Strategic Analysis &
Plan Development

A comprehensive plan includes significant technical research and analysis. This information serves as the baseline for plan recommendations and a benchmark for progress. On this page, the plan topics are presented along with an in-depth analysis of the key conditions, trends, and findings. If you have any questions or ideas for this page, please contact Kyle May at kyle@planning-next.com. This resource portal will grow throughout the process with new topics and resources will be added on a regular basis.

Plan Topics & Structure

The Comprehensive Plan is made up of around a dozen topics ranging from land use, to mobility, to parks and recreation. This research and analysis will undergird the plan’s final recommendations and is presented below. The final plan may be organized by these topics or by major themes the integrate the topics. Please review the topics and information below and add any comments, ideas, or questions that come up. Please note that each of the reports is still in a draft form. The Planning Team will integrate you your comments and ideas and share with the broader public. Click any of the topics below to skip to this section of the page. 

1. Land Use, Development, Community Character & Urban Design

The Land Use, Development, Community Character, and Urban Design chapter focuses on the use, regulation, and character of development across the Montgomery Planning Area. The chapter includes a breakdown of the city’s current use of land along with the history that led to this distribution. Community character is another important consideration of the plan and the variety of built and natural environments are detailed in the chapter. Finally, the land is regulated in Montgomery through zoning. These tools, actors, and processes are outlined and explored. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Establishing strong and consistent policies on land development and redevelopment
  • Understanding the fiscal implications of growth versus consolidation
  • Addressing commercial vacancy and land redevelopment
  • Utilizing existing planning and regulatory tools to achieve community goals
  • Addressing equity issues related to past land development or investment decisions
  • Developing a new palette of development types that enhance the quality of place, secures fiscal productivity and promotes new or continued inclusive investment

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Click the image above to review the draft memo, or follow this link: Land Use Strategic Analysis Memo

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2. Transportation & Mobility

The Transportation and Mobility topic area analyzes the movement of people and goods throughout the Montgomery Planning Area. The topic considers the overall performance of the system, travel options, safety, access, additional modes and future investments and opportunities. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Unlike many urban areas, congestion in Montgomery is not a major concern, even when compared to peer cities in Alabama. Maintenance and modernizing the city’s aging network should be the major focus when considering how to make the best use of limited resources.
  • Active transportation facilities are extremely limited, and what facilities do exist are disconnected from each other. This has created unsafe biking and walking conditions, and an environment where most rely on cars for all trips, regardless of the distance.
  • Investing in low-cost, high-impact active transportation improvements, along with education programs, has the opportunity to result in significant mode shift. A significant proportion of Montgomery residents have very short commutes, representing an opportunity to shift a large portion of the city’s trips off the city’s streets and onto the sidewalks or bike lanes.
  • There is currently no strong project prioritization process in place and no transit leadership board. A restructuring of these institutional decision-making process can improve the efficiency of the city’s operations, as well as ensure an equitable and effective use of program funding.
  • The city’s Complete Streets policy, adopted in 2013, provides guidance toward a desire to be inclusive of all modes and work toward a more balanced system. A number of street reconstruction projects slated in the current TIP provide excellent low-cost opportunities.

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3. Housing & Community Development

Safe and affordable housing is an essential component of a strong and resilient community. Strong neighborhoods are the building blocks of a strong city and contain housing types that reflect the diversity of the community overall. The Housing Chapter is an outline of the key conditions and trends within the Montgomery housing market along with a review of major neighborhood plans and initiatives. These pertain to the full spectrum of housing conditions from homelessness to homeowners. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Housing affordability and insecurity is an increasing challenge
  • Housing stock is generally older and will require rehabilitation to prevent blight
  • Growing competitive markets surround Montgomery
  • Vacancy and abandonment is an issue in certain areas
  • Missing middle housing types contribute to the challenge of housing affordability
  • Out-of-community residential property ownership challenges reinvestment

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4. Environment

The Environment chapter focuses on the natural environmental conditions in the Planning Area. The chapter includes a breakdown of the city’s physical geography and how this impacts Montgomery’s economy, ecology, development, and future opportunities. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Understanding, examining and mitigating effects of the various pollutants to soil, groundwater and air quality
  • Considering the implications of flooding and lack of national dam safety programs
  • Addressing the deficit in Green Infrastructure throughout the area
  • Recognizing the drinking water resources in Montgomery and the implications of a non-diverse resource system
  • Utilizing existing plans and public efforts to achieve community goals
  • Leveraging forested areas and greenways as a community asset / resources

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5. Public Health

The Public Health Chapter is focused on the health of the Montgomery community as a whole, and how health trends of the community compare to the state and the nation. Public Health looks at human health at a community scale. This chapter will highlight the many interrelated factors that determine a person’s health, including personal behaviors, how persons interact with their physical surroundings, access to health care and education, economic situation, and genetics. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Developing health policies that are proactive around existing and emergent challenges
  • Addressing chronic inequalities in health outcomes
  • Understanding the impact of the built environment on community health
  • Confronting infant mortality

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6. Parks, Recreation, & Open Space

The City of Montgomery currently provides over 1,400 acres of public parkland and recreation facilities distributed among parks, community centers, and special facilities. The systems facilities support both specific neighborhoods and larger communities with both passive and active recreation. In addition, the system provides city-wide youth baseball and softball, youth summer and after-school programs, and senior programs. Because of Montgomery’s large foot-print, Montgomery struggles to directly serve all of its residents with physical amenities and services. As Montgomery continues its efforts to retain its youth, support its aging population, and grow economically, a quality parks and recreation system and experience will have to play a substantial role in this reinvigoration

This strategic analysis describes the efforts and services of the City of Montgomery with public open space, recreational facilities, and programs through an inventory of the current park facilities and services. Through an inventory and spatial analysis of these amenities, this memo will highlight the existing areas of service and gaps in Montgomery’s parks and recreation efforts as they relate to the population of the plan’s service area. This analysis will use two major classifications for parks and recreation amenities: passive and active recreation. Passive recreation is generally defined as actives that can require little to no physical activity and is typically associated with non-structured actives. Examples of passive recreation may include walking, jogging, and picnicking. Passive recreation’s definition also typically includes special interest activities. Active recreation is generally defined as organized or team physical activity. Examples of active recreation include baseball, football, soccer, swimming, and racket sports. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Develop trails and greenways to connect Montgomery’s parks, neighborhoods, and destinations; including the development of rails to trails opportunities
  • Develop parkland in the flood-prone and contiguous forest that surround Montgomery
  • Develop parks on vacant or tax delinquent parcels unserviced neighborhoods
  • Expand recreational services to include more youth sports, adult, and senior physical activities
  • Update aging park equipment and community centers
  • Market parks and recreation’s past to connect with broader Civil Rights efforts
  • Update subdivision regulations to include a dedication for public open space Support grassroots park to support and volunteerism
  • Develop city-wide parks and recreation specific plan

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7. Military

The Military chapter focuses on the Maxwell Airforce Base (AFB), Gunter Annex, and Dannelly Field. See Map 12.1 for the installations’ geographic context. The chapter includes a breakdown of the AFB’s history, current operations, economic impact, physical development, and population. The military installations are important to consider in the Envision Montgomery 2040 Comprehensive Plan because of their significant influence on the local economy and the overall well-being of current and future residents. Some major challenges/opportunities exposed through the research include:

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Maxwell and Gunter are unique and valuable economic assets for the city of Montgomery, but also represent a potential vulnerability long-term
  • There are opportunities for Montgomery to further leverage assets that currently exist on or around military operations and physical bases
  • The city has the opportunity to retain military talent and provide programming/amenities that are attractive to that population (e.g. families, young adults)

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8. Historic Preservation

The City of Montgomery is a place of rich history. The origins of Montgomery can forever be seen in its conflicting downtown grid system, as two rival towns merged and incorporated in 1819. Montgomery would grow to play an iconic role in changing the shape of the Nation several times over. As both the birth place of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery has no doubt left its mark on the country and the world. Over the years this history has weaved itself into the places, buildings, and fabric of Montgomery. Montgomery maintains this strong identification with its past, and that connection is exemplified through the built environment. To preserve its past and to ensure its future, Montgomery actively works to preserve both historic and architecturally significant places, but more needs to be done to ensure this connection is as strong as Montgomery deserves.

Historic Preservation is the process of strengthening connections between people and places through identification and protection of the built environment to convey historic significance for current and future education and enjoyment. This analysis will highlight the connection between Montgomery’s historic figures, their historical actions, the places that are home to those events, the effects those events had on the city’s built environment, and what efforts the city is currently taking to protect this history.

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Becoming a Certified Local Government
  • Creating a Stronger Connection with Montgomery’s Historical Events and Its Built Environment
  • Developing a deeper appreciation and protection of Montgomery’s historical resources, and the economic opportunities that those historic assets offer
  • Continue to increase local preservation of Centennial Hill, and other historic African American districts
  • Continue to increase Downtown’s local preservation

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9. Economic Development

The Economic Development component of the Comprehensive Plan focuses on conditions and trends related to the city’s industrial makeup, workforce, small business and entrepreneurialism, and general economic competitiveness both around the state of Alabama and across the country. Montgomery’s local economy supports more 100,000 jobs. These are gathered, largely in stable sectors such as government, military and health care. While this provides a strong foundation of employment, small business activity trails other metros in Alabama and commuting patterns reveal a workforce that is largely out-of-town. The opportunities, however, are many. The city’s unique historic assets and rejuvenating downtown are prime tourism assets. Additionally, the community has made strategic investments in its information and technology infrastructure. Finally, the large number of daily commuters present an opportunity attract more residents and expand the tax base. The following report highlights the key takeaways from this research and provides the basis for plan direction and recommendations.

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Pool of total employers or firms is shrinking over time; local labor force shrinking and aging
  • Start-up engine in Montgomery underperforms compared to peer cities in Alabama and around the Southeast
  • Laborshed has expanded over time with more worker commuting in from farther away
  • Community is both cushioned and exposed by government-supported employment with private sector growth
  • Risks for employment loss in sectors with the growth of artificial intelligence and automation (especially true of local manufacturing and call center operations)
  • Cyber and tech opportunities can be built around community investments and unique assets
  • Tourism is a key focus area based on the city’s unique assets

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10. Community Facilities & Infrastructure

This analysis offers an overview of the City of Montgomery’s community facilities and infrastructure, how they affect municipal wellbeing, and how the city is poised to handle spatial and population shifts regarding these facilities and infrastructures and the services they provide. This analysis emphasizes Montgomery City-County Public Libraries, the Montgomery Fire and Rescue, the Montgomery Police Department, water and sewer infrastructure, and the cost of operating those services and utilities.

Montgomery’s community facilities include public libraries, community centers, senior centers, and police and fire protection. The City of Montgomery is served by seven public libraries operated by the Montgomery City-County Public Libraries. Libraries are key community facilities that provide spaces for cultural engagement and personal improvement. Community centers act as gathering spaces for the neighborhoods they serve, specifically benefitting youth and seniors. The City is served by twenty community centers. In addition to its community centers, Montgomery has two senior centers that serve the growing population of senior adults in the City, operated by the non-profit Montgomery Area Council on Aging.

Community infrastructure in Montgomery includes water and sewer, electric, and gas. These services provide everything from a daily standard of living in the community to an economic force that shapes physical growth. Montgomery’s water and sewer is provided by the Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board. Electricity infrastructure and services in Montgomery are provided by Dixie Electric and Alabama Power. Gas infrastructure and services are provided by Spire Energy and Southeast Gas.

Providing well functioning and strategic community facilities and infrastructure is fundamental in operating a successful city. Supporting citizens with libraries and community and senior centers is key to nurturing personal and community development. By engaging and improving the lives of individuals and marginalized populations in the community, these facilities create a cyclical elevation of the community as a whole.  Develop a comprehensive understanding of how the City can support its protective services with policy decisions that support proactive public safety and quality of life. .  Making sound community infrastructure decisions can lead to substantial municipal savings, incentivize quality redevelopment, and save citizens money that can then contribute more to the local economy.

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • The City has limited methods for prioritizing upgrades to its existing community facilities.
  • Large areas of the City are not served by community centers or senior centers.
  • Needed expansion of library and community center services into existing areas of the City that are dominated by a single use.
  • Provide more community activities for all of Montgomery’s citizens.
  • Develop an improved understanding of how police and fire departments’ operations and budgets could be updated to best address the City’s recent trends and needs.
  • Support lowering the community infrastructure cost by allowing higher density development.

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11. Education & Cultural Arts

A quality education system and the presence of cultural art programs are critical in creating a prosperous community. The quality of a community’s education and arts can positively or negatively affect broader community goals, including quality of life, population trends, prosperity, and economic attractiveness. This analysis focuses on how Montgomery’s education systems support its citizens from pre-K to adult education, and how cultural arts are represented in Montgomery’s community. This planning effort is intended to make comprehensive analyses of the Montgomery School System in an effort to correlate it with larger community themes; however, this comprehensive planning effort cannot directly affect or alter the school system in Montgomery.

According to the 2016 American Communities Survey, 85.5% of the city’s population were high school graduates or higher, while 31.2% had a bachelor’s degree or higher. When looking at Montgomery’s (and the nation’s) overall educational attainment through the lens of race, we begin to see a discrepancy between Whites and African Americans. Whites in Montgomery (and the nation) are more than twice as likely than African American to receive a bachelor’s degree. The percentage of Montgomery’s population that have received a bachelor’s degree is higher than the state and national averages.

In 2016 there was an estimated 34,231 kindergarten to 12th-grade students in the City of Montgomery; of those students, 83% attended public schools while 17% attended private schools. Enrollment at the state level the same year was 89% public versus 11% private.

Major Challenges / Opportunities

  • Create a stronger support network for school readiness
  • Support the public school system to ensure equitable education for all of Montgomery’s youth
  • Reinforce the bond between Montgomery’s public schools and Montgomery’s workforce opportunities
  • Retain Montgomery’s top students from K-12 to employment
  • Continue to develop downtown Montgomery as a hub of cultural arts
  • Nurture a sense of place around Montgomery through public art

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Additional Resources

The Community FactBook

A successful planning process starts with an in-depth analysis of community’s current conditions and trends within a broad range of topics. In the Envision Montgomery 2040 Factbook, the Planning Team has highlighted initial findings pertaining to demographic, economic and place-based information. Click the link to the right and find out more.

Steering Committee Documents

A committee of 50 leaders from around the community will lead the Envision Montgomery 2040 process forward. This group was intentionally selected to represent the wide range of interests and backgrounds present in Montgomery today. Over the course of the project, the Steering Committee will reach out the public to elicit ideas, gather support, and discover new leadership to guide plan implementation.

After each meeting, the presentation materials will be uploaded to the resources page.

Click here to view the Steering Committee Meeting Documents