• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Use your email address, or register through your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Building a comprehensive plan - THE CYBURBIA FAQ

el Guapo

Professor Emeritus of Cyburbian Studies
Messages
5,901
Points
28
Here is the concept: Post a typical question a planner in “Any Town USA” may have about the process of developing or updating a comprehensive plan. Feel free to answer your own question. Or answer questions you may find here. Post links to good articles and give examples from your career or those that happened in the town "next door."

I’m going to exercise higher-than-normal moderating authority in this thread to keep it on subject and to eventually build a “Cyburbia Knowledge Base” of FAQ’s on this, as well as various other subjects.

If you reply to a question please use the quote function and keep your answer on topic. Responses may be merged – credit will be given to authors. Beware you post counter driven Cyburbians that you posts her may not count once the thread is edited.

This project should result in something that we can all be proud of contributing to when we start accumulating enough material to flesh out a few FAQs.

Thank you.
el Guapo

PS - I will not edit your posts for content or grammar. You will be able to suggest changes to your posts even after the vBulletin editing time lapses by PMing me or another MOD.

Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
24
el Guapo said:
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?
One of the first things that you should do is to take inventory of all of the plans that have been done for your community. Gather up the plans that have are currently being used as well as the well-intentioned plans that either were never fully approved that were approved but never implemented. Read through those plans and see what information you can still use. Take note of the shortcomings of the plans for use later on in your comprehensive planning process.

Take inventory of what the plan specified and compare it to what actually happened in your community. Did your plan call for a residential area that has somehow become the City’s office park? Did your industrial district somehow become home to big box retailers like Home Depot and Wal Mart? If so, why? Did the plan fail to take certain things into consideration? Too often it seems that plans are done with pie-in-the-sky dreams of a utopian community where businesses can be picked and chosen by the community. Plans fail to take market forces, economy, property rights and personal preference into account. While dreams of utopia can be a great asset to the visioning process at the beginning of the comprehensive planning process, they should be weighed against other factors during the later stages.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Moderator
Messages
10,876
Points
31
el Guapo said:
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?
In addition to reviewing your existing plans, review state statutes governing comprehensive planning in your state. There are required elements in the planning statutes that will be essential to the enforcability of your comprehensive plan. Most states allow a wide flexibility in the comprehensive planning process and in what you may include in your comprehensive plan, especially if you are in a "home rule" state.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Points
25
Gedunker said:
In addition to reviewing your existing plans, review state statutes governing comprehensive planning in your state. There are required elements in the planning statutes that will be essential to the enforcability of your comprehensive plan. Most states allow a wide flexibility in the comprehensive planning process and in what you may include in your comprehensive plan, especially if you are in a "home rule" state.
Additionally, you will want to familiarize yourself with any recent and relevant case law in your state on comprehensive planning. Too often case law can significantly redefine some of the legislative intent of state enabling statutes. If you don't have access to case law, make sure you have the authority and funding to delegate this task to the municipal attorney.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?

The single most important thing to know about how to build a comprehensive plan is that it is the community's plan, and that the people of the community must be actively involved in its development. This means that you must have a thorough understanding of public involvement strategies and how to decide which strategies are best for your particular community.

Having put months into a book that describes the process, I feel no need to repeat what it says here. Obtain a copy of The Planning for Results Guidebook by Lee Nellis and Karen Van Gilder from the National Association of Counties (it is a bargain at $12) and pay close attention to Chapter 1 and 2. Once you get the community talking about the plan and what it should contain, you can forge ahead.
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
Great thread EG - I turned it into a sticky. :)

Here's a question/scenario that stumped me on a project I had about a year and a half ago:

Q. What do you do when you've exhausted all of your means and still cannot get any substantial public input for the community's plan?
 

lowlyplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
69
Points
4

Q. What do you do when you've exhausted all of your means and still cannot get any substantial public input for the community's plan?
[/QUOTE]

Having recently worked on a large scale "vision" plan for a big chunck of our town, I've found that it's almost impossible to get people to focus on an area larger than their own neighborhood. What that suggests is that the best way to get input for your comp plan is to go to individual neighborhoods and ask people what they want for their area, and then try to stitch the answers together into a unified whole.

In order to figure out how the neighborhoods and business districts link together, try inviting just the heads of neighborhood groups / merchants associations, councilpeople, etc. - people who are used to looking at the "big picture."

You can also do the same activities in different neighborhoods (i.e. Visual Preference Surveys). What we found was that most people gave very similar answers, even when they were from very different areas.

My question would be:
Q. What innovate methods do people use to advertise or increase turnout at public meetings?
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Points
25
Q. What innovate methods do people use to advertise or increase turnout at public meetings?

Food! Lots and lots of food!

In all seriousness, catering can help attract - and keep - a crowd at public meetings.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
SGB is right about food. Beyond its obvious appeal, the act of breaking bread together is a powerful unifying force for human beings.

Entertainment can add to the appeal of a meeting, as well, as can offering day care. In some communities one might also want to offer transportation.

If people aren't coming to your meetings you may have to go to them. Take a portable kiosk to the shopping mall or some other gathering place or to the county fair or another local event. Use it to distribute info, inform people of meetings, and to have at least some interaction. Even if some people are coming to your meetings this approach will broaden the base of involvement.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Catered a deli selection for 50, 7 showed up. We fed the entire city hall lunch the next day. To top it off, the expense was rejected by CDBG, because food was part of the 'entertainment' exclusion.

Later with the same neighborhood, we did a pot luck--more than 70 came out.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
21
el Guapo said:
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?

1. Give some serious thought to whether you rerally need a comprehensive plan. If you have one already, is it good enough? Will the new one be just about the same as the old one? If you don't have one, can the existing sets of standards be catalogued to do the same thing as a comprehensive plan.

2. In any comprehensive plan time frame, you get to achieve 5-10 major objectives. Define those early. (A major objective is usually defined as a major change in the physical development of the city.) After you define these major objectives, run through #1 again. Do you really need a new comprehensive plan.

3. Don't set up a Citizen's Committee unless you have a real reason to have one. It adds one more layer to the preparation project. You will have to prepare a General Plan for the CAC, for the Planning Commission, and then for the City Council. If you have a CAC, define their purpose before you start meetings.

4. I like to start a General Plan process with an unstructured Town Hall meeting. Ask citizens what they want. A good format is a facilitated meeting. Start with an overview presentation to the group as a whole, Divide into discussion groups with a facilitator and recorder. Ask "what do you like," "what do you want to change," "what is your vision for the next 10-20 years." The facilitator points to people who want to speak. The recorder writes it down on a large pad (Post it makes presentation pads that stick to the wall). That way, when an idea is stated, it is written and doesn't have to be repeated. Everyone usually comes with one major idea, but when that is said and recorded, people talk about their second, third, or fourth priority, and you start to get a true picture of the public's opinion. At the end, give each person in the group 5 adhesive dots and let them "vote" for what they think is most important. I have compared the results of facilitated meetings to neighborhood surveys and found the meetings are pretty true to the survey results.

If there is a lot of turmoil and conflict in town, it is best to use comment stations. Set up comment stations with a recorder and facilitator. Each station has some background information about a particular subject. The audience members circulate to the stations and talk directly with the facilitator. The recorder puts their comments down. This means there is no group dynamic. People are talking to the piece of paper on the wall, not to each other. You can also vote (as above) on the comments on the wall.

5. Take the information and start the comprehensive plan preparation process. You should have a pretty good set of information on which to base draft policies.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,153
Points
45
Q. What is an adequate public review and hearing time period ?

In my fair city, we placed a draft copy of our Comp Plan
in 4 different Public Library branches, 2 university& 1 college libraries
besides our our office and website: http://www.evansvilleapc.com/
for 30 days before 3 already scheduled public meetings with another 30 days to submit comments.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,075
Points
33
Planderella said:

Q. What do you do when you've exhausted all of your means and still cannot get any substantial public input for the community's plan?
With all of their other commitments, people simply do not have the time to attend meetings. Look to things that they can do at their liesure. Surveys are a good example. Make information available online and use a listserve to update anyone who signs up. Get information in the papers and on TV.

Look at the bright side. People usually make the effort to show up when they are opposed to something. If nobody is attending your meetings despite all you are doing to keep them informed, perhaps it means that most people are pretty happy with the way it is going.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
38
el Guapo said:
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?
Whatever you do, will impact all the zoning and land development codes in your jurisdiction. If you have suggested changes to your comprehensive plan, show how they will be implemented through the codes.

Use lots of graphics so citizens can see what the current land uses are, where there are conservation areas, etc.

Know who the citizen activists are, what homeowners associations are active, etc. Contact them directly so they can involve their neighbors.

Look at plans in neighboring communities and counties. You will likely need to ensure that your plan does not run counter to theirs (e.g., placing urban uses next to a rural area next door).
 
Messages
3,691
Points
27
SGB said:
Q. What innovate methods do people use to advertise or increase turnout at public meetings?
Send a press release to:
the local PTA(s)
Homeowner Assn. Coalition
The senior center
major churches

Convince your local town newspaper to write an article in advance about the meeting.
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
22
Once it has been determined that a comprehensive plan is warranted for your community, the following question would be instrumental in its development:

What are the key elements/aspects that the comprehensive plan should address?

I'll offer just a few, but please chime in.

- scope of the plan
- neighborhood and local historic district descriptions
- demographics
- economic development
- transportation modes and systems
- parks, recreation, and open space
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
29
Big Easy King said:
What are the key elements/aspects that the comprehensive plan should address?
In both jurisdictions I have worked in, the empowering Acts provide guidance. The first one is a pretty comprehensive list of items to include. the funny one is the budget. When we did our we did it $1 per year for each of the five years to be reviewed annully and without requiring amendment to the Plan.

One jurisdiction requires the following as minimums

(a) statements of policy with respect to
(i) the development and use of land in the municipality,
(ii) the conservation and improvement of the physical environment,
(iii) the control and abatement of all forms of pollution of the natural environment,
(iv) the development of communication, utility and transportation systems,
(v) the reservation and projected use of land for municipal purposes, and
(vi) the provision of municipal services and facilities, including
(A) sewage collection, treatment and disposal,
(B) water supply and distribution,
(C) garbage disposal,
(D) educational and cultural institutions,
(E)recreational facilities, parks, playgrounds and other public open spaces,
(F) fire and police facilities,
(G) cemeteries and crematoria,
(H) urban renewal,
(I) housing,
(J)preservation of buildings and sites of historical interest, and
(K) facilities for the provision of health and social services,

(vii) the co-ordination of programmes of the council relating to the economic, social and physical development of the municipality, and
(viii) such matters other than those mentioned in this clause as are, in the opinion of the council, advisable; and

(b) such proposals as are, in the opinion of the council, advisable for the implementation of policies contained in the plan; and

(c) subject to subsections (6) and (7), a five-year capital budget for the physical development of the municipality.

Where i live now you must include the following. Does not provide much guidance. In this jurisdiction they are far more concerned with processes than the product. Not sure if that is good thing or not.

Contents of official plan

16. (1) An official plan,

(a) shall contain goals, objectives and policies established primarily to manage and direct physical change and the effects on the social, economic and natural environment of the municipality or part of it, or an area that is without municipal organization; and

(b) may contain a description of the measures and procedures proposed to attain the objectives of the plan and a description of the measures and procedures for informing and obtaining the views of the public in respect of a proposed amendment to the official plan or proposed revision of the plan or in respect of a proposed zoning by-law. 1994, c. 23, s. 9; 1996, c. 4, s. 8 (1).
 

edyo

Cyburbian
Messages
28
Points
2
Q. What is different between Comprehensive Plan and Master Planning ? and What is different between Structure planning and Detail Planning?
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,153
Points
45
Q. 6 months after it's adoption and printing, is there any reason to keep drafts / comments in the file ?

Reason I ask office files are being moved and stored.
(probably never to see light of day again, until somebody else 20 yrs later will ask WTF)
 

natski

Cyburbian
Messages
2,579
Points
21
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?[/QUOTE]


As yourself what are the reasons for establishing a plan? What do you want to get out of it?

Should you look at individual "studies" and then combine these into a comprehensive plan?

Alway remember that the community should "own" the project:)
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,456
Points
21
Comprehensive Plan Timeline

Q. Does anyone have an example of a Comp Plan Timeline?
I am specifically looking for a timeline for a revision, but any example will help. PM if need be.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Points
25
RandomPlanner... said:
Q. Does anyone have an example of a Comp Plan Timeline?
I've got a good timeline for a revision project, but the file size exceeds the Cyburbia attachment limits.

PM me with an email address for a copy. (PDF file, 116KB)
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
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
 

big_g

Cyburbian
Messages
269
Points
10
Question:

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

Hawkeye66

Cyburbian
Messages
382
Points
12
Strategic and Comprehensive Plans

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

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
29
Hawkeye66Q. said:
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.
 

Hawkeye66

Cyburbian
Messages
382
Points
12
donk said:
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
29
Hawkeye66 said:
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.
 

PlannerByDay

Cyburbian
Messages
1,827
Points
23
big_g said:
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
 

Hawkeye66

Cyburbian
Messages
382
Points
12
donk said:
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.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,075
Points
33
Hawkeye66 said:
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.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
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
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,075
Points
33
kjelsadek said:
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?
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
Cardinal said:
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.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
Q: How does your county or city comprehensive plan calculate or determine divorce rates?
 

Plan-it

Cyburbian
Messages
921
Points
19
kjelsadek said:
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.
 
Messages
3,691
Points
27
kjelsadek said:
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.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Points
25
kjelsadek said:
Q: How does your county or city comprehensive plan calculate or determine divorce rates?

Plan-it said:
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.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,153
Points
45
kjelsadek said:
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
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
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 :-c

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
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
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 . This plan shows the proper relationship between factual material and policy language, as I see it.
 
Messages
3,691
Points
27
kjelsadek said:
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 :-c

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?
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
Downtown said:
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
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
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:

Hawkeye66

Cyburbian
Messages
382
Points
12
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.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
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.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,776
Points
30
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
 
Top