Pike Road, AL

The Town of Pike Road, Alabama decided to preserve and build on its heritage by becoming incorporated and adopting a zoning ordinance. This has allowed the town to determine its own fate, rather than being subject to unplanned, sprawling development to which many communities on the edge of cities are susceptible. Their zoning code has allowed the community to protect key natural resources, concentrate development in ideal locations, and define a community character that is rural while also providing urban amenities.

The Waters, Pike Road, AL. Photo via  PlaceMakers .

The Waters, Pike Road, AL. Photo via PlaceMakers.

Project Overview

The Town of Pike Road, with a population of 5,406, is primarily a rural community located on the edge of the city limits of Montgomery, Alabama. After flourishing as an unincorporated “town” in Montgomery County for over 175 years, the threat of being annexed by the growing Montgomery County next door led to the consideration of incorporation. When the City of Montgomery developed a plan to run a highway bypass loop through the middle of town, the people in Pike Road gained enough voter and financial support to become an incorporated town in 1997. Incorporation has given Pike Road the ability to zone land for future use, leverage taxes, provide public services and annex properties to enable growth. Although the incorporation of Pike Road generated new opportunities, it also created new challenges for the community, such as maintaining roads, providing public services to citizens and staying ahead of the neighboring city’s efforts to annex land.

There was also a concern that the development needed to address these challenges would alter the town’s “sense of place.” In an effort to address these various issues, the community of Pike Road decided to implement Smart Growth principles in conjunction with zoning to protect the rural small town character of their community, establishing it as the first community in Alabama to adopt a zoning ordinance incorporating a Smart Code. The Pike Road Euclidian Zoning Ordinance and Form-Based Smart Code work together, allowing communities to grow and develop in appropriate areas while preserving and enhancing the town’s historical character. The Smart Code includes more aesthetic provisions than many traditional land use ordinances. It also promotes flexibility and creativity and allows for more complimentary uses in the same “zone” without requiring variances.


Plan Highlights


To ensure the goals of the community were met, the Town Planning Commission was created to develop appropriate codes and ordinances. Comprised of town residents, the Commission addressed the community’s priorities, including the protection of farmland and open space, mixed land uses, increased walkability, and preservation of a strong “sense of place.”

  • The neighborhood known as “The Waters” was created in Pike Road as a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND), which includes a mix of housing types and small businesses that promotes walkability. These types of development provide residents with amenities such as community schools, police/fire stations, and sports/recreational facilities that promote learning, safety, and public health. TNDs can be an economic development driver for an entire town.
  • The 2003 Zoning Ordinance of Pike Road, Alabama incorporated Smart Code Principles.
  •  The Pike Road Natural Trail, funded by a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Federal Highway Administration, connects many of the town’s neighborhoods and parks, offering alternative transportation and recreation options.


Lessons Learned

With the new autonomy to guide development in their town, the people of Pike Road have adopted a combination of land use and development regulations and standards to achieve a rural town character with access to urban amenities. By choosing to become incorporated, the town was able to identify their goals and form regulations to specifically address each goal. The Town of Pike Road now boasts a 300:1 resident-to-city council representative ratio, compared to the 21,500:1 ratio in the City of Montgomery. Being a small town allows greater access to elected officials and a stronger voice for citizens in local government.