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Thread: Building a comprehensive plan - THE CYBURBIA FAQ

  1. #26

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    Here is a condensed version of the work program we are currently in. This would be fine if we were not also tasked to do a number of other substantive projects in the same time period, including three major sets of ordinance amendments. As it is, this requires a lot of extra staff hours and way too many PC meetings. Note that this is for a community where there is generally strong support for planning. It tends to take longer where that is not true.

    June 04 - PC approves work program for plan update
    October 04 - kickoff public involvement with major community event, solicit involvement of other agencies
    October 04 - appoint citizen task forces assigned to key elements of plan
    November 04 - March 05 - task forces work on land use/natural areas, transportation, and housing/growth management elements - staff completes energy element
    April 05 - PC meets with task forces, task forces finish up
    April - early July 05 - PC reviews task force work, staff begins completing other elements
    late July-October - PC meets with affected agencies (MPO, Historic Pres, Conservation, etc. etc.) and revises plan elements in weekly meeting
    late August-October - Selectboard reviews draft plan elements and provides comments to PC to avoid surprises after the electeds get the plan
    October 1 - first draft released for hearing
    November 1 - PC hearing
    November 7 - joint PC-Selectboard meeting to discuss
    November 15 - draft transmitted to Selectboard, hearing notices authorized
    January - Selectboard hearings (VT laws requires two) and adoption

  2. #27
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    Question:

    What can we do to promote cross-jurisdictional communication and cooperation when developing comprehensive plans.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Strategic and Comprehensive Plans

    Q. There are Strategic Plans and Comprehensive Plans. Whats the difference? More detail in planning?

  4. #29
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66Q.
    There are Strategic Plans and Comprehensive Plans. Whats the difference? More detail in planning?
    Comp Plan / Offical Plan = a legal document that covers a land use. Typically, (depending on your jurisdiction) describes the proposed uses and ideas for land use within a municipality. May also cover other items related to land use (parks, historic preservation, beautification projects, servicing, infrastructure schools etc). Usually contains language related to goals, policies and objectives. Usually contains maps showing what you are describing. Empowers zoning.

    Star Plan = an organizational tool describing the objectives of a department, city , business and the associated way points. Usually contains language related to vision, mission, goals, objectives actions. Not a legal document.
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  5. #30
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Comp Plan / Offical Plan = a legal document that covers a land use. Typically, (depending on your jurisdiction) describes the proposed uses and ideas for land use within a municipality. May also cover other items related to land use (parks, historic preservation, beautification projects, servicing, infrastructure schools etc). Usually contains language related to goals, policies and objectives. Usually contains maps showing what you are describing. Empowers zoning.

    Star Plan = an organizational tool describing the objectives of a department, city , business and the associated way points. Usually contains language related to vision, mission, goals, objectives actions. Not a legal document.
    Ok, the city needs both. Would it be a good idea to handle the Comp Plan first? I think the city is looking more at a short goals list as far as strategic planning is concerned.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66
    Ok, the city needs both. Would it be a good idea to handle the Comp Plan first? I think the city is looking more at a short goals list as far as strategic planning is concerned.
    I would suggest that the strat plan be done first, as a comp plan would be one of the actions that comes from it.

    The other reason I would suggest this is a strat plan would provide guidance to your consultant with respect to how the city sees itself and how the city wishes to brand itself.
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  7. #32
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by big_g
    Question:

    What can we do to promote cross-jurisdictional communication and cooperation when developing comprehensive plans.
    Send then a copy of the plan and ask them to review that plan (Land use, infrastructure and other capital improvements) in relationship to their plan. Tell them that you will consider their comments prior to formal adoption.

    This "coordinaged planning" is required by law in Michigan

  8. #33
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I would suggest that the strat plan be done first, as a comp plan would be one of the actions that comes from it.

    The other reason I would suggest this is a strat plan would provide guidance to your consultant with respect to how the city sees itself and how the city wishes to brand itself.
    The more I get into this, the more I think the town really needs something like a group therapy session. What I am thinking of doing is having more general meetings about forging a identity for the town. It seems to me that successful small towns are those that have found a niche, and built around it. So, it would seem that even before any specific plans can be made, a town needs to have an identity and have residents more or less on the same page.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66
    The more I get into this, the more I think the town really needs something like a group therapy session. What I am thinking of doing is having more general meetings about forging a identity for the town. It seems to me that successful small towns are those that have found a niche, and built around it. So, it would seem that even before any specific plans can be made, a town needs to have an identity and have residents more or less on the same page.
    Maybe you should take a look at the Heartland Center for Rural Development. They have compiled a list of "clues to rural community survival" that I think is a good place to begin discussions in many small towns.
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  10. #35
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Q: How much is too much information in a comprehensive plan?

    I am interning at the planning office this summer and my task is to review and revise four of eight sections of the County Comprehensive Plan. I am currently working on the Population Element of the plan which is giving me problems.

    The county has an est. population of 66,000 with 5 incorporated cities with populations ranging from 22,000 to 105. The current Population Element is broken into the following categories in order: State Geographic Region, County, 5 Individual Cities, Population Projection Models.

    The Geographic Region, County, and each of the five cities have subheadings of the following: Population, Density, Age, Race, Poverty & Income, Education, Quality of Life (marriage/divorce numbers but not the rate, birth/death rate, and curiously-the education level of mothers at the time they give birth), and each section is followed by a list of findings. Essentially one will read the same information for each of the categories but with no real comparison being done. Additionally I have a problem with the two cities that have populations of 105 and 158; as the plan is currently written the city with 158 has a 20% growth rate because it gained 27 people between the 1990 and 2000 census. It seems a bit misleading in my opinion. Essentially there are charts and tables galore with a lot of numbers and just blocks of text recapping the data.

    If anyone works in a similar sized county I would love to hear any suggestions or ideas to make this streamlined, coherent, and understandable by most people.

    Cheers!
    Kim
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Q: How much is too much information in a comprehensive plan?

    I am interning at the planning office this summer and my task is to review and revise four of eight sections of the County Comprehensive Plan. I am currently working on the Population Element of the plan which is giving me problems.

    The county has an est. population of 66,000 with 5 incorporated cities with populations ranging from 22,000 to 105. The current Population Element is broken into the following categories in order: State Geographic Region, County, 5 Individual Cities, Population Projection Models.

    The Geographic Region, County, and each of the five cities have subheadings of the following: Population, Density, Age, Race, Poverty & Income, Education, Quality of Life (marriage/divorce numbers but not the rate, birth/death rate, and curiously-the education level of mothers at the time they give birth), and each section is followed by a list of findings. Essentially one will read the same information for each of the categories but with no real comparison being done. Additionally I have a problem with the two cities that have populations of 105 and 158; as the plan is currently written the city with 158 has a 20% growth rate because it gained 27 people between the 1990 and 2000 census. It seems a bit misleading in my opinion. Essentially there are charts and tables galore with a lot of numbers and just blocks of text recapping the data.

    If anyone works in a similar sized county I would love to hear any suggestions or ideas to make this streamlined, coherent, and understandable by most people.

    Cheers!
    Kim
    You are right to note the misleading nature of the statistics. I worked in a similar setting; a county of 30,000 with a city of 18,000 and two small communities of about 500 and 1,500. In these instances I would usually provide a table with both the numerical and percentage changes. Although the numbers may seem small, the addition of 25 new homes to a community with 100 homes is going to be noticable. The percentage does still have some relevancy.

    I have never seen the statistic of mother's age at time of her childrens' birth included in a plan, but I can speculate that there has been an issue of teen pregnancy. The plan may be very forward in looking at this issue. Is it discussed anywhere?
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  12. #37
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I have never seen the statistic of mother's age at time of her childrens' birth included in a plan, but I can speculate that there has been an issue of teen pregnancy. The plan may be very forward in looking at this issue. Is it discussed anywhere?
    This is what it says:

    "As far as the education of mothers, 72.43% of the mothers in the county in 1994 had attained a high school diploma or higher in education. Conversely, 27.36% of the mothers had not graduated high school. However, 20.49% of the mothers were less than 20 years old. More than 56% of the mothers were unmarried, surpassing the state average of 30.4%. Almost 20% of the White mothers were unmarried: 6.6% higher than the state average. The county had the highest percentage in the state of unmarried Black mothers: 73.6%."

    I think teen pregnancy is an issue here, just as it is in many other places. However, I think that whoever wrote this was targeting the wed/unwed mother issue regardless of age (think small religious Southern community). This text is sandwiched between the birth rates and death rates in the section without addressing the issue further.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  13. #38
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Q: How does your county or city comprehensive plan calculate or determine divorce rates?
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  14. #39
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Q: How does your county or city comprehensive plan calculate or determine divorce rates?
    That is not something we have considered in any of the plan I have prepared. In my opinion, that is a social issue that should not become a factor in growth policy. I always ask myself the question, should government really have a role in this phenomenon when deciding what pieces of information to include in various planning studies.
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  15. #40
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Q: How much is too much information in a comprehensive plan?
    If you can't answer "So What?" after throwing data out there, don't include it.

    Use your inventory to build a case for your implementation portion. If you aren't going to begin to address teenage birth rate with a program or policy change, don't bother graphing it.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Q: How does your county or city comprehensive plan calculate or determine divorce rates?

    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it
    That is not something we have considered in any of the plan I have prepared. In my opinion, that is a social issue that should not become a factor in growth policy. I always ask myself the question, should government really have a role in this phenomenon when deciding what pieces of information to include in various planning studies.
    We have anectodal evidence that divorcees are a significant component of the demand for apartments in our community, so this data could be relevant to the housing section of a local plan.
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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Q: How much is too much information in a comprehensive plan?
    From my fair City/County Comp Plan:

    Indiana Code 36-7-4-502 states a comprehensive plan must contain at least the following:
    1. A statement of objectives for the future development of the jurisdiction;
    2. A statement of policy for the land use development of the jurisdiction; and
    3. A statement of policy for the development of public ways, public places, public land, public structures, and public utilities.

    Besides the required Comprehensive Plan elements, State statute (I.C. 36-7-4-503) allows for additional contents. The 2004-2025 Comprehensive Plan includes many of these optional items such as studies of current conditions and future growth in the City and County. Other items in the Plan from the list of permissible contents are maps and descriptive materials on the following subjects:
    History, population, and physical site conditions
    Blighted areas
    Air and water pollution
    Flood control
    Public utilities and other services
    Transportation, including rail, bus, air and water
    Parks and recreation
    Education, including location of schools and universities
    Land utilization, including agriculture, forests, and other uses
    Conservation of resources
    Other physical, economic, and social factors
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  18. #43
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Thanks everyone!

    I am interning in the Planning Office this summer before going to grad school (planning of course!) and since I have been tasked with reviewing 4 of 8 elements of the comp plan without having a clue of what it is supposed to be. Now I have been asked to actually revise the sections

    I know that I do not like the tone of the current comprehensive plan, think it dwells too much on irrelevant information, comes across as judgmental in some instances, relies on too many facts and figures without explaining their significance to the particular element or plan. Any advice for this first-timer is greatly appreciated!

    Cheers!
    Kim
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  19. #44

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    A plan is a policy document. It should include only those facts needed to support the policy statements along with references to relevant factual documents.

    The divorce rate may or may not (but probably not) be relevant in your community. If it is, the the plan should say why. So unless there is a policy statement that is based on it, or refers directly to it, you shouldn't include a fact that specific.

    n small data-poor communities I have often written a separate socioeconomic profile that I can cite in the plan, but that is published separately.

    Williston's new plan is on-line in the form of the hearing draft that got adopted. The color illustrated version will go on-line soon at [URL="town.williston.vt.us/forms.htm"]. This plan shows the proper relationship between factual material and policy language, as I see it.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    Thanks everyone!

    I am interning in the Planning Office this summer before going to grad school (planning of course!) and since I have been tasked with reviewing 4 of 8 elements of the comp plan without having a clue of what it is supposed to be. Now I have been asked to actually revise the sections

    I know that I do not like the tone of the current comprehensive plan, think it dwells too much on irrelevant information, comes across as judgmental in some instances, relies on too many facts and figures without explaining their significance to the particular element or plan. Any advice for this first-timer is greatly appreciated!

    Cheers!
    Kim
    Kim - I remember when i was doing a comp plan in SC (not *too* many moons ago), it was more of an inventory of existing conditions to support the preferred "future land use scenario".

    Are they just wanting you to streamline the inventory, or make policy recommendations?

  21. #46
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Downtown
    Kim - I remember when i was doing a comp plan in SC (not *too* many moons ago), it was more of an inventory of existing conditions to support the preferred "future land use scenario".

    Are they just wanting you to streamline the inventory, or make policy recommendations?
    My task is to streamline it for the most part and to give a non-planning perspective about what is or is not in the plan. The Natural Resource Element I have free reign on since I did a year long project in my public research course on the natural resource element in the county. The current version of the natural resource element is pretty skimpy so I will have much to add to it.

    Things are moving along...albeit a bit slowly.

    Kim
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  22. #47
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Q: While working on the population element of our comprehensive plan I have a few questions about income. What does your comp plan use as a measure of income?

    The previous version of the plan I am working on uses per capita income. Useful to some degree but misinterpreted by many people. A suggestion from someone else in the office was to use median family income, however not everyone is considered a family by census definition and the family median income is usually higher than the median household income. My instinct is to use the median household income since I think Joe Q. Public can understand and use it as a measure of his own household income. Any suggestions?

    Cheers!
    Kim
    Last edited by kjel; 19 May 2006 at 1:41 PM.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  23. #48
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Comp Plan: A way to come together?

    Our town has some deep divisions, and the our Comp plan as I may have mentioned above was last done in 1963. Could the updating of the Comp Plan serve as a way to bring more togetherness if I were to recommend to council people from both sides of the division to serve on the ad hoc planning committee?

    Would be interested to hear what thoughts anyone has. Thanks.

  24. #49

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    First, re income. I think PCI is the least useful. Median family income is, as you have concluded, more comprehensible. I think that looking at the distribution of income, ie the nmber of households in different income brackets is also an interesting statistic. In most comprehensive plans it is also be important to compare incomes to housing costs. I also like to use the REIS data to look at income sources for the community. This can sometimes upset the applecart - if the data show retirement incomes as the single most important source, for example - but is often helpful and even therapeutic in helping the community understand its economy.

    Re healing: You can work on this, but if the divisions are really deep you may need more than an ad hoc committee. I would start with a larger, well-advertised visioning event and make a concerted effort to get everyone there, from all sides. I would also use that event to solicit volunteers for the committee (or committtees). Healing can only be done in a process that is explicitly, obviosuly open to everyone.

  25. #50
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    What kinds of information is included in the Natural Resources element of your locale's comp plan?

    Thanks all for the help on the Population Element. It turned out rather well and after slogging through a lot of Census data and pulling it all together in a coherent and relevant manner.

    New project: Working on the Natural Resources element of the plan now and was just looking for examples and ideas of what different places include in their plan.

    Cheers!
    Kim
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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