Community Planning Services

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham’s Community Planning Department provides community planning services for the Member Governments within the following counties: Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. 

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Public Outreach

Our team joins with the community to understand their
needs and desires. Public outreach activities include:

  • Project Websites 

  • Surveys

  • Steering Committee Meetings 

  • Pop up events

  • Public Meetings and Open Houses

  • Online interactive mapping tools

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4 Levels of Planning

RPC’s Community Planning department builds long range plans to direct growth and redevelopment over the next 5 to 15 years. Equally as important are the strategies offered for communities to grow their tax base.

Planning Services

Planning can help manage change in your community in a way that provides better choices for how people live, work and play. It guides quality development while promoting the health, safety and welfare of citizens.

Planning documents are meant to be living documents that focus on a community’s overall vision and expectations for future growth and development. They provide a framework for guiding public and private investments that will affect new development as well as reinvestment in existing neighborhoods, major corridors and downtown areas. Plans are based on the citizen’s vision of how they want their city to grow in the future. It is a long-term vision – for the next 5 years, 10 years, or an even longer period of time. 


Zoning Codes & Overlay Districts


Independent from the planning process are zoning codes and overlay districts, which are utilized by Planning Commissions and Board of Zoning Adjustments.

A zoning ordinance is different from a comprehensive plan because the Zoning Ordinance is part of the City’s Code and regulates the type, scale and intensity of development that may occur in the specific zoning districts. To fully understand how a parcel of land can be used, you first need to know how the land is planned in a Comprehensive Plan, and then determine how the land is zoned. Just as changing the Comprehensive Plan for a parcel of land requires a Comprehensive Plan amendment, changing the zoning for that parcel requires a rezoning application.

Example: Downtown Homewood Zoning Code


An overlay district is a zoning tool used to establish land development standards that are placed ‘over’ the current base zoning district. It allows for standards that are stricter than the base zoning. While an overlay district establishes limits, its purpose is to ensure that design decisions complement each other and contribute to creating the quality of place envisioned in the plan.

Example: U.S. Highway 280 Overlay District (Chelsea)

Building Communities Program

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The Building Communities Program provides direct technical assistance to local communities within the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Area - which is the area shown in the map to the right, which includes all of Jefferson, and Shelby counties and portions of St. Clair and Walker counties.

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The services of the Building Communities Program include:

  • Examining redevelopment or development opportunities within communities

  • Preparing comprehensive plans that encourage economic development and promote compatible land uses

  • Analyzing and formulating strategies that improve multimodal transportation (walking, biking, riding transit or driving)

  • Drafting and amending zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, overlay districts and design guidelines

Who should use the Building Communities Program?

The Building Communities Program is designed to assist local governments with developing, managing and implementing comprehensive plans and transportation plans for their respective communities.

How Does the Building Communities Program Work?

The RPCGB offers an 80/20 match through its Building Communities Program for communities within Birmingham’s Metropolitan Planning Area that want to improve their transportation system, catalyze economic development and grow in a sustainable way. That means you only pay 20% of the cost of a plan.  An average Comprehensive Plan costs approximately $150,000, therefore a municipality would only have to provide $30,000 in local funds as match for the program grant.

Throughout the planning process the RPCGB will serve as the project manager and will actively engage the community to ensure that the plan reflects the community’s aspirations.

Community Plans & Studies

In Progress