What is a Comprehensive Plan?

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Comprehensive Resiliency Plan header 

A Comprehensive Plan IS

A blueprint for the growth and development of a community. It guides the manner in which the community accommodates development or redevelopment. The plan is developed with the guidance of a professional planning team, but created, owned and championed by members of the community.

A Comprehensive Plan IS NOT

A legal document. It is a planning document that sets forth the intention of the planning commission and community council regarding growth and development decisions. The plan is not a zoning ordinance or zoning map, which are tools often used to implement the plan.

A Comprehensive Plan Includes

  1. A statement of the overall purpose of the plan
  2. Background data about the community
  3. The community’s vision, including recommendations for future development, roads, utilities, parks and community facilities
  4. Local policies, goals and objectives for future growth
  5. Strategies for farmland, forest, and natural area preservation as well as recommendations for how future development should appear
  6. Maps, graphics and text describing existing land use and future land use as decided by each community
  7. An action Plan, also called an implementations strategy, so the community will have a guide for how to make the vision a reality
  8. Strategies for job and tax base growth
  9. Provisions to monitor progress of the plan

Benefits of a Comprehensive Plan

Once implemented, a comprehensive plan can safeguard against zoning and land use litigation. It can help balance community goals with private interests in land use and manage growth and redevelopment so that they do not occur in a haphazard pattern. It can also preserve the character and resources of the area. Comprehensive plans help make public spending wiser and more efficient so that service costs do not result in a heavy burden on property owners. The plan becomes a marketing tool by providing a well-thought-out statement of your community’s development goals. Investors as well as prospective residents can benefit by understanding where your community is headed and what your development priorities are. The greatest overall benefit of a comprehensive plan is the development of a more livable and sustainable community—an efficient environment that grows in tandem with your community’s ability to provide a high level of service.