Photo by Jon Anderson.
Mac Martin Jr. is the new city planner for Hoover.
The city of Hoover has hired a new city planner to lead the city’s effort to develop and implement a new comprehensive master plan and recruit quality residential and commercial developments.
Today was the first day for Mac Martin Jr., who comes to Hoover from Athens, where he has served as the city planner and zoning official since 2009.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato tonight introduced Martin to the City Council and said the 32-year-old Martin brings years of expertise and experience to Hoover that should serve the city well as it seeks to plan proactively for the city’s future.
Hoover’s longtime planning consultant, Bob House, plans to retire at the end of September, so city officials thought this would be a good time to bring the city planning function in-house as a city employee, Brocato said.
Martin will work alongside House for the next five months to ensure a smooth transition, Brocato said.
The city received more than 30 applications for the city planner job from as far away as Delaware and Massachusetts, and a committee of residents involved in the rigorous search found Martin to be the best choice, Brocato said.
While in Athens, Martin helped the city update its future land use and development plan and zoning ordinance, and adopt a transportation plan, public works capital improvement plan, downtown streetscape plan and historic preservation ordinance.
He also facilitated the city’s retail/commercial recruitment program that led the city to hire an outside retail recruitment company last year, and he helped develop a “wayfinding” system that helps people driving along city streets find various amenities.
While a graduate student at Auburn University, Martin also helped the town of Bayou la Batre obtain a grant from the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program to conduct visioning workshops and draft a community plan.
Martin said coming to the city of Hoover is a great opportunity for him. He loved working in Athens, but when the sixth largest city in the state and a retail hub for all of central Alabama comes calling, “it certainly was hard to say no,” he said.
He was very intrigued with the job after hearing Brocato explain his vision for “reinventing suburbia” and creating a place that can serve as the city of Hoover’s “downtown” area, he said.
“It’s a big undertaking, and it’ll take a big effort to get there and support from the community and public, but it’s certainly a worthy cause,” Martin said.
Athens and Hoover couldn’t be more different, he said. Athens is a historic city that will be 200 years old next year, yet is experiencing growth with the close proximity of Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal, he said.
Hoover, meanwhile, is 50 years old and is a suburb trying to reinvent itself as an urban area.
Though the two cities are different, Martin said he believes he can use lessons learned in Athens to help him with his work in Hoover.
In Athens, one of the first things he had to do was familiarize himself with the city, he said. He then helped the city determine its core identity and then started making sure city development plans matched up with that identity, he said.
In Hoover, Martin said it will take him a little while to get grounded, but he wants learn the ins and outs of the city and find out what people feel are the biggest needs. He will help the city identify both its strengths and weaknesses that need to be improved, he said.
He realizes not every single person will have the same exact vision, but it’s important to develop some consensus about what direction the city should take and then work to make sure all facets of the city are working together in the same direction, he said.
Martin said he originally is from the “sprawling metropolis” of Plantersville, a town of about 200 people just outside of Selma. He grew up coming to Hoover for to enjoy the shopping, movies, restaurants and Birmingham Barons games, so he is at least familiar with the city, he said.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Auburn University in 2006 and a master’s degree in community planning from Auburn in 2009. Martin now serves as president of the executive committee for the Alabama chapter of the American Planning Association and is chairman of the Auburn University Master of Community Planning Advisory Committee.
He and his wife have two daughters, ages 4 and 1. His wife is from the Mobile area, so moving to Hoover will bring them 1 ½ hours closer to both of their families, he said. His wife is a high school teacher and will be finishing out the school year before they move, he said.