BIG Picture Plan Addresses Historic Growth and Quality of Life Needs

Why is it important for citizens to be involved in the Huntsville City Big Picture process? For Dennis Madsen, the answer is quite simple.

“Inputs shape politics and politics shapes growth,” he said.

When The BIG Picture was launched five years ago, public feedback helped inform efforts to revitalize Ditto Landing, John Hunt Park (and parks in general), our greenway network and the center -town. Madsen, Huntsville’s director of urban and long-range planning, said it’s also impacted community-focused redevelopment like the Sandra Moon Complex, Robert Shurney Legacy Center and Jaguar Hills.

“We know that with intentional planning and smart infrastructure investments, we can handle all of this growth ahead – heck, we’ve already done that,” he said. “Some of our longtime residents may remember the huge influx of people in the 60s and 70s. In less than a decade, Huntsville quadruple in the population. If we can manage this type of growth, we can absolutely cope with our current challenges. »

Citizens look at maps during a BIG Picture public comment session.

Re-engage the audience

In July, the city’s planning department launched a month-long educational campaign to provide insight into the BIG picture and direction of Huntsville. The plan, available for viewing at, takes an in-depth look at what Rocket City could look like in 5, 10, 15 years and beyond.

With Huntsville now the largest city in Alabama, there’s never been a better time to re-examine the big picture as we manage growth in a thoughtful and measured way.

Madsen said public comment so far has focused on a few areas:

  • A mix of enthusiasm about the quality of growth and anticipation of the impacts of growth. Concerns mainly revolve around transportation and housing.
  • Appreciation of the City’s investments in quality of life and a desire to do more. Citizens appreciate our parks, greenways and facilities like the Orion, but want to see more preservation of open spaces and cycle and greenway connections.

More soon

In addition to planning public updates to the Greenway Network Plan, the City is working on several other planning projects, including new bylaws that will encourage more mixed-use development along major corridors and updates to zoning to allow for greater diversity in housing.

We are also conducting two transit studies to examine service improvements in the City of Huntsville, as well as how to implement regional transit. An updated plan for environmental sustainability as well as an economic development study for the Meridian Corridor are also underway.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Madsen said.

Join the conversation about smart growth by visiting our website, contacting us and following our Facebook page for updates.