MUSCLE SHOALS — Completing a master plan that will determine the best use of 1,000 acres of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Muscle Shoals Reservation is the next step now that the TVA board has approved the sale of the property at public auction.
Nathan Willingham, director of community planning at Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments, said the plan will be completed through the efforts of NACOLG, Northwest Alabama Cooperative District and TVA.
The master plan will address recommendations for the best use of the property, which borders the cities of Muscle Shoals and Sheffield.
The plan will lay out which areas of the property might be suitable for retail development, office, warehouse or manufacturing use, and designated green space.
Willingham said numerous issues remain to be addressed before a public hearing in early 2013.
Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford, who chairs the cooperative district, said a portion of the property could be used by Northwest-Shoals Community College or the University of North Alabama, both of which are landlocked.
Willingham said a management plan also is being developed to guide the implementation of the master plan.
“The land use plan will determine a strategy for guiding the development in accordance with the overall master plan,” Willingham said. “The complexity of this property and its redevelopment is that it is in essence a federally owned single parcel of immense size that is currently unincorporated.”
Because the property does not lie within a local municipality, there are no zoning regulations and no mechanism for creating zoning regulations that would determine what type of development could take place.
“Counties don’t have the ability to guide growth and development like cities do,” Willingham said.
He said TVA has stated that guidance for developing the property should be determined locally.
TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said TVA will continue to work with the local entities to complete the final master plan.
On Nov. 15, the TVA board agreed to sell the property at a public auction. That auction would likely not take place for at least a year.
“We’re working with them on how to decide how the entire 1,000 acres can best be used,” Brooks said.
One major issue is who will have jurisdiction over the property as far as fire and police protection.
There also is the question of who will provide utilities.
It must also be determined if the property will be sold as a single parcel or several smaller ones, possibly divided based on the recommended use.
Bradford questioned who will be responsible for roads in the reservation, including Reservation Road, which will likely be a main artery through the property.
Brooks said it is possible the property could be purchased by a local government, an economic development agency or private developers.
“Everything is on the table,” he said.
Bradford said TVA has been cleaning up portions of the property.
TVA’s property on or near the Muscle Shoals Reservation includes about 3,000 acres.
The Northwest Alabama Cooperative District was formed in 2007 to work with TVA staff and evaluate the possible redevelopment possibilities for the site. The cooperative district consists of representatives of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia, and Colbert and Lauderdale counties.
The group began seeking public input in early 2009.
TVA and the local group have worked closely since then to develop a draft plan for how the property might be used to support economic development, and promote the best and most environmentally responsible use of the property.
While the original study area consisted of about 1,400 acres, it was later determined that only about 1,000 acres are suitable to market.
The property does not include recreational areas such as the TVA walking area or the CCC Picnic area.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.