Comprehensive Planning

COMMUNITY PLANNING.  Brookside, Gadsden, and Jefferson County, Alabama.  Termed "Building a Better Brookside," this planning effort responded to the 2000 and 2003 floods which devastated this historic mining town of about 1,500 families.  In April 2002, Lehe Planning first proposed the initial concept to community leaders to connect open space areas acquired through FEMA flood plain acquisition projects along Five Mile Creek.  The concept immediately caught on and shortly afterwards, the Five Mile Creek Greenway Partnership was formed.  The Partnership has actively coordinated projects and events to enlarge the initial concept and make the 28-mile greenway a reality.  During this same period, we were retained by Downtown Gadsden, Inc. for the  2003 update to the Downtown Gadsden Revitalization Plan.  This plan helped sustain Alabama's most successful Main Street Program that was first born in 1993 under Jim Lehe's guidance.  At the time, he was  Planning Director for the East Alabama Regional Planning Commission.    

PLANNING ADMINISTRATION.  Rapid City, South Dakota.  ​Beginning in 2010, we first evaluated the responsiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency of the City's planning, development review, and permitting processes to manage its growth and development.  This study resulted in the complete restructuring and streamlining of planning and development review operations.  The Mayor called us back in 2013 to report on the City's progress towards implementing the 2010 recommendations and present new recommendations for continuing improvements.  Again in 2014, the Mayor asked us to examine customer service and the administration of historic preservation programs.  Implementation of the report's recommendations by City staff resulted in the adoption of a new ordinance with improved procedures.  (2010-2014)

Hazard Mitigation Planning

2003 - 2006 MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL NATURAL HAZARDS MITIGATION PLANS. Lehe Planning assisted 19 Alabama county emergency management agencies with establishing hazard mitigation planning committees and preparing plans representative of unincorporated and incorporated jurisdictions within each county. Plans were funded through FEMA planning grants awarded to the county emergency management agencies, and all plans were approved by the Alabama EMA and FEMA for compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. The 19 plans covered over 100 jurisdictions comprising over half the State's population.

2007 STATE HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN.  State of Alabama.  Lehe Planning teamed with two other firms for the 2007 update of the Alabama's Hazard Mitigation Plan. This included guidance to facilitate the State of Alabama's efforts to achieve the Enhanced State Mitigation Plan designation through FEMA, which would significantly increase federal funding awarded for state and local mitigation projects.


  • We provided guidance and support to Rock Park, Inc. who served as lead consultant on the 2017 five year plan update of the Morgan County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan .
  • Funded through FEMA planning grants, we completed the five-year multi-jurisdictional plan updates for rural  Blount County (2016), Chambers County (2011 and 2016), Dale County (2011), Fayette County (2014), and Marshall County (2009 and 2014). 
  • Based on the Mobile model (see below), the 2009 Marshall County multi-jurisdictional plan became Alabama's first plan approved under the 2008 FEMA guidance, and the 2014 update was the first to be approved under FEMA's revised 2013 planning guidance.  The 2009 planning process featured a very active community involvement program that included a public Web site, a toll free hot line, a three-week long public display, a community-wide survey, among other opportunities for public participation. This plan was praised by the Alabama EMA as "a great job" and "the only plan in Alabama that has never required any revisions" in the approval process.  FEMA Region IV planning staff in Atlanta said it "was a pleasure reading this Plan." 
  • In high-risk, coastal Baldwin and Mobile Counties, we completed the original plans in 2005 and the 2010 and 2015 five-year updates. 
  • The 2010 Mobile County plan for Alabama's highest risk coastal location is one of the nation's most thorough and extensive planning studies. Working cooperatively with all Mobile County communities, the firm worked closely with the Mobile County EMA to develop a five-year plan update that included detailed risk assessments using FEMA's HAZUS-MH GIS software applications, specialized planning studies, and a consolidated plan for all jurisdictions.  Funded by a sizable FEMA HMGP planning grant of $538,409, the 2010 plan consolidated the three original 2004 plans and added a detailed and comprehensive Critical Facilities Assessment.  The 2010 Mobile plan served as a model for all subsequent plans prepared by our firm.  It includes three components:  the Comprehensive Plan, Community Action Programs for each participating jurisdictions, and Appendices of Supporting Documentation. The 2010 Baldwin Plan followed the model established for Mobile County.   
  • Funded through a $242,700 FEMA planning grant, 35 Jefferson County jurisdictions, including the City of Birmingham, participated in the 2010 Jefferson County plan update to meet the latest Federal planning guidance.  

VOLUNTARY DISASTER RECOVERY PLANNING ASSISTANCE.  Communities in Mobile County, Tuscaloosa County, Jefferson County, Baldwin, and Chambers County, Alabama.  We first volunteered our professional planning services to help Mobile County communities in their long term recovery planning from the damaging impacts of Hurricane Katrina (2005-2006).  Again, in response to the devastating statewide tornado outbreaks of April 2011, we volunteered our services, to help devastated communities in Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties develop plans for community safe rooms and secure FEMA grant funds (2011-2012).  Following the federal disaster declaration for the severe spring storms of 2014, we assisted affected communities in Baldwin, Jefferson, and Tuscaloosa Counties identify mitigation projects, and most recently, we helped communities in Chambers County affected by the "Christmas Floods" of 2015 develop projects for potential FEMA funding (2016).


Emergency Management Planning

​​EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLANS.  Working in partnership with other local firms, we developed a comprehensive system to enhance emergency management operations for the Mobile County EMA. The system includes an update to the Emergency Operations Plan, a terrorism plan annex, and a Geographic Information System linked to FEMA's HAZUS-MH applications for estimating damages resulting from hurricanes, flooding, and other natural hazards (2004).   Next, we updated the Chambers Emergency Operations Plan to comply with FEMA guidance in 2012 and later developed a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), which was built upon the Risk Assessments in the 2011 and 2016 Chambers County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Similarly, in Marshall County, we reported on the integration of its 2014 Marshall County Muli-Hazard Mitigation Plan into its THIRA. 
Critical Facilities Planning and Project Management


COMMUNITY SAFE ROOMS.   Over $4.25 million in FEMA grants were awarded to cover 75% of the total cost to construct nine multi-use tornado shelters to serve communities in Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties, Alabama.  

EMERGENCY GENERATORS. Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  A FEMA grant of $1 million helped fund a $1.5 million emergency backup power generator at a principal filtration plant that serves the Birmingham area.  FEMA funds also helped the City of Tuscaloosa provide emergency power backup to four of its sewer lift stations.  (2008-2015) 


ESSENTIAL MUNICIPAL FACILITIES.  Brookside and Center Point, Alabama.  We helped flood-ravaged Brookside package over $3.5 million in funds to build a new municipal complex to replace facilities which were destroyed by its 2003 flood.  In addition to FEMA grant funds, other sources included the Jefferson County Commission, the HUD Community Development Block Grant Program, and the USDA Rural Development loan program. In 2006, we helped the Center Point Fire District with securing over $600,000 in FEMA grant funds to demolish its flood-damaged fire station and relocate in a new building within a flood-free location. (2003-2006)

Flood Hazard Mitigation Planning and Project Management

FLOODPLAIN PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS.  Prattville, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Fultondale, Tarrant, Brookside, Huntsville, and Mobile, Alabama.  Since 2000, we've helped communities plan, secure funding, and manage the buyout of 242 flood-damaged homes at a cost of $16.5 million.  Primary funding sources were through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs. (2000-2014)

DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT MANAGEMENT.  Tuscaloosa and Mountain Brook, Alabama.  Based upon detailed economic and engineering feasibility studies, we helped mitigate the flood threats to commercial and residential areas with over $13 million in drainage improvements.  We helped secure over $9 million in FEMA grant funding.  The Tuscaloosa project reduced significant flood threats to this mixed use, urbanized area of 258 structures, with flood elevations lowered up to 12 feet in some locations. Structural improvements to Watkins Brook in Mountain Brook Village help mitigate flood damages to the City's central commercial village and surrounding areas. (2003-2011)

FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT.  City of Tuscaloosa and Jefferson County, Alabama.  Our firm helped prepare model flood hazard prevention ordinances for Jefferson County unincorporated and incorporated areas. The ordinances follow the "Higher Regulatory Standards" guidelines of the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program.  In 2015, we prepared the City of Tuscaloosa Floodplain Management Plan in association with Walter Schoel Engineering Co.  This plan helps guide the City's participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) Program of the National Flood Insurance Program. The CRS Program discounts flood insurance premiums in recognition of exceptional floodplain management practices.  A FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) planning grant helped fund the planning process.  More information can be found at the two public outreach websites at


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FEATURED project successes