LaFayette Council talks strategic plan

Published 10:30 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

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The LaFayette City Council held a work session before their regular Monday night meeting, where they discussed the drafting of a new strategic plan for the city’s future.

Ben Wieseman, a real estate developer and owner of Place Associates consulting firm, was invited by Mayor Kenneth Vines to speak to the council. He discussed the possibility of hiring his firm to develop what the council called a “comprehensive/strategic plan”. The company works with municipalities and communities on planning, zoning, design, and real estate development.

Wieseman explained his company’s role at the meeting, saying, “We’re helping cities, helping councils determine what you want to see for your city where you want things to go and documenting those ideas and creating the projects and implementation strategies for you to take off.”

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Wiesman and his team would be going to meetings, data gathering, research and conversations with city leaders to identify what area they want to focus on for the plan. He said in a previous conversation with Vines, housing was mentioned as a potential focus. 

“Lanett, they have the airport…Unfortunately, Valley has the school system now. We need something; whether it be housing, industry, or something to get us going,” said Vines.

Through his work, Weiseman has seen the need for what he calls, “affordable and attainable housing” in the state. His firm worked with the city of Brewton, AL which was having a housing issue. They worked with the city and community on the type and cost of housing they needed. Then the firm developed a plan with a concept for the design and ways to incentivize contractors to build a cost-effective property on the city’s 100-acre golf course.

Weiseman intends to partner with Keys to the City’s community development coach, Hollie Cost as well as a design firm for drawing out the plan. He says the initial estimate, depending on the scope of the plan, will be six to eight months of work at a cost of $60,000.

All council members present, Vines, Chairman Terry Mangram and Councilman Mike Ellis wanted to move forward with the process. Councilman else believed it was overdue, saying the city had not had a comprehensive strategic plan done in 15 to 20 years. The next step would be putting the plan development in the city’s budget. When the council goes over the budget, they can decide whether they want to approve the expense. The budget meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. CT, Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the city hall.