Town of Brantley planning for future

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

By Haley Mitchell-Godwin

The Town of Brantley Planning Commission hosted an open house Thursday, Jan. 19 at Ft. Dow Sport, also known as the Brantley Armory. The purpose of the come-and-go style open house, held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. was to give citizens an opportunity to learn about the proposed Brantley Development Strategy Plan and ask questions about the long-range vision and goals for the growth of Brantley. 

With the help of a community development block grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), the town employed community planners from the South Central Alabama Development Commission (SCADC) to help craft the plan that includes data from a land use study, a retail market study, and an annexation feasibility study conducted by SCADC.

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 The comprehensive plan, still a work in progress, is being headed up by Tracy Delaney, a representative of the SCADC, who has been working with the town of Brantley for the last year and a half to develop a road map for the town’s future. Before the final plan is adopted by the Town of Brantley Planning Commission and presented to the town council for approval in March, a public hearing will be announced and held so that citizens have another chance to weigh in and contribute to what will be the definitive plan. Delaney was on hand at the open house to answer citizens’ questions and receive comments and suggestions to be taken into account as finalization of the plan draws closer. 

 “We (SCADC) have gone through a lot of facts and have really looked at what the studies have shown us, and have done a lot of brainstorming,” Delaney said. “I am really hoping citizens will show up and weigh in their thoughts. We really want input from the citizens so that we can make what they want a big part of this.  Public comments are vital to the long-term success of the plan. We will eventually look at zoning and subdivision regulations and the final strategy will incorporate funding suggestions to include grants and other state and federal funding.”

Mayor of Brantley, Bernie Sullivan, is excited about the town’s progress and agrees that the community’s involvement with the plan is key. 

“We really want to hear what our citizens have to say,” Sullivan said. “I think it is important that the town maintains what it is that makes us Brantley and we want the whole community involved. There is really some moving and shaking going on in Brantley that is thanks to the hard work and willingness to help of so many well beyond my office-our sister city Luverne, our county officials and state officials, including the state’s mental health commissioner Kim Boswell, and the director of the South Central Alabama Mental Health, Tommy Wright. We are proud to have some new locally owned businesses up and running and the mental health crisis diversion center is set to be operational by late 2024. We need to be prepared for the growth that is coming our way and be familiar with the best practices when it comes to maximizing the prosperity that is right at the end of our fingertips so that we can meet and exceed the expectations of our citizens and our stakeholders. This plan is going to help us do that.”  

Displays were available during the event that contained information about economic development, housing, recreation, infrastructure, and more. The town of Brantley’s strong points were highlighted and areas, where there is room for improvement, were made known through the exhibit.

Suggestions in the preliminary plan included creating downtown gateways, recruiting and fostering interesting shops to the downtown area, town beautification projects, the promotion of local history and local history resources, the annexation of the town limits, the exploration of the idea to develop a wetland park below the Conecuh River Bridge on U.S. HWY 331 that could serve as a tourist draw and feature amenities like a kayak/boat landing, multiple use trails, a sitting area, outdoor classroom spaces, a sculpture garden, and more.

Planning commission member Karen Gray stated that a plan to manage the town’s growth is needed, one that focuses on what is best for the citizens of Brantley. 

“When it comes down to it, the plan isn’t about buildings or city limit signs. It is about the people and what is best for them. The data collected by SCADC helps pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses as a small town and can help us to make informed choices when it comes to development in Brantley.”

Other Brantley planning commission members present at the open house were Chad Kilcrease, Pamela Campbell, Diane Mears, Darryl Elliott, and Sally Byrd. 

As the town of Brantley continues work on a long-term comprehensive growth plan that will analyze trends and give the city information needed to make future decisions on where and how to grow retail, industrial and residential communities, resident and local businessman Justin Bradley hopes that momentum stays strong. 

“All of this is so exciting.” Bradley said. “My mother and I own a mobile home park just outside the city limits and we would love to expand along with the growth of the area. Although the current location of our mobile home park would not be included in the proposed annexation, we’d have no problem if it were. My kids go to Brantley and they are about the fifth or sixth generation of our family to grow up in Brantley so I have a vested interest for many reasons and  would be honored to help bring more tax revenue into the town. I hope that all this movement keeps going right along and we can pave a way to keep people here whose families have been here for generations, and give them a way to be just as successful here as they could be anywhere.”