Town of Section plans for sustainable growth with $50,000 grant, partnership with Auburn landscape architects

AUBURN – The Town of Section, in Jackson County, Ala., sits atop Sand Mountain overlooking the Tennessee River. Following a significant upgrade in the town’s infrastructure and anticipating impending growth, residents wanted to create a sustainable framework to protect Section’s scenic, environmental and cultural assets. In partnership with landscape architects at Auburn University, Section received a $50,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to research and develop a plan.

“This town has shown a lot of foresight,” said Michael Robinson, professor of architecture and landscape architecture in Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. “Its citizens realize that proper planning is necessary for sustainable growth. We are pleased that Auburn was chosen to help them develop a plan that will be more than a master plan. It will have implementation stages.”

Robinson, the R. Hugh Daniel Professor of Real Estate Development and David Hill, assistant professor in landscape architecture, are the grant’s principal investigators. They will team with the Town of Section to draft a zoning ordinance, develop a sustainable rural design plan and develop a brand for the community. The joint effort will also include identifying cultural, recreational, architectural and business projects that will form an identifiable anchor for the community’s progress. Developing this design plan for sustainable growth is expected to take about one year.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about this new project with Auburn University,” said Mayor Bob Matthews at a recent city council meeting. “I am particularly pleased that our community will be directly involved in developing this plan. This is the most important project that Section has had in years.”

Rick Hanbeck, the city council president, said, “We appreciate this opportunity and the benefits it will provide for our town. We are really looking forward to working with Auburn on this project.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission supports the Town of Section planning project as part of the commission’s goal to develop and improve Appalachia’s infrastructure to make the region economically competitive.

The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. Each year it provides funding for several hundred projects that create thousands of new jobs; improve local water and sewer systems; increase school readiness; expand access to health care; assist local communities with strategic planning; and provide technical and managerial assistance to emerging businesses.

For more information about the landscape architecture program in Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction, go to

Contact: Michael Robinson, (334) 844-5486 (,
David Hill, (334) 844-5434 (,
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (