Building a comprehensive plan - THE CYBURBIA FAQ

SGB

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#41
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

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#42
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

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#43
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
 
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#44
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.
 

Downtown

     
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#45
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

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#46
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

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#47
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
 
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#48
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.
 
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#49
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

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#50
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
 
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#51
Natural resource elements vary a lot. Williston's (VT) is incorporated into our Open Space Plan, which is a separate document adopted by reference in the comp plan. We also have a separate watershed health plan element that covers mateiral that is often included in a natural resources element. The drafts are currently on-line on the Town's website. The best reference book is Frederick R Steiner's The Living Landscape.
 

TOFB

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#52
Definition
Inventory
Ag land
Soils
Terrian/Topography
Extractive Minerals
Watercourses/Wetlands/Floodplains
Urban Forest
Introduction to Ecological Footprinting, Life Cycle Design,
Pollution and EPA's Effort to do something about it, BMP's
Anticipated/Desired Change (Recommendations)

Pretty straight forward
 

kjel

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#53
Thanks....all of you have been very helpful to this intern. The internship has been a bit disappointing because I have been relegated to a windowless room that doubles as the break/conference room. Everyone says they are always busy and don't have time to show/explain any of the inner workings of the office. I did finish the Population Element and it came back with only a few minor requests, which were easily completed and now it will be adopted into the Comp Plan.

Working on the Natural Resource portion of the plan which should go fast. A request has been made by the county manager that my senior research project be included into it so that's what I am working on currently aside from reformatting and smoothing out the existing document.

Six more weeks left and then I am off to grad school for planning....hopefully I will get a little more exposure there.
 
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#54
This is a great thread... interesting to see how others are working on similar issues we face daily. For what its worth here is my .02....

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

The answer to the following 3 questions:

1 - What are your community's local critical issues / issues of concern? (Leads to the community vision/value statement. Also idea's plan's primary goals and objectives.)

2 - What community conditions have changed since your last comprehensive plan and how do those changes relate to your community's local critical issues? (Completed through extensive assessment of community data)

3 - What are the best planning practices to address your critical issues? (Involves an assessment of smart growth, sustainable development, land use planning, case law, and other planning practices as they relate to your community.)

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? & Q. What innovate methods do people use to advertise or increase turnout at public meetings?

Not sure what you've tried, but start with an assessment of your efforts and then be creative in finding solutions. Recognize that the goal of your public efforts should guide your process. We have used a variety of public involvement techniques including visioning, charrettes, public hearings, and workshops.

Each different function was very well publicized through a identified marketing scheme that includes a name & logo. We have sent the logo to both local newspapers and ask them to use it when writing an article about the project. We have also developed a mailing list from previous participants and website.

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

Besides the basics that others have identified so well....

Start with your state growth management legislation. (Here in Florida that is very specific.) Then tailor those state requirements to meet the community critical issues. IE: Florida Requirement: Coastal Management (includes coastal development & disaster planning components). Local Critical Concerns: Waterfront (all waterways not just coast) & Coastal Development. Emergency Management & Disaster Planning Services (not just disaster management). Comp Plan Elements: Coastal and Waterfront Development. Emergency Management. All issues get addressed more thoroughly, index shows state where to find policies that meet statutory requirements.

Q. 6 months after it's adoption and printing, is there any reason to keep drafts / comments in the file ?

NO. In fact it may hurt you because it will give naysayers something to scrutinize. We keep only those drafts that are reviewed in public meetings, all others trash as soon as the meeting is over and new draft created.

Q. Does anyone have an example of a Comp Plan Timeline?
Yes and I'm happy to send it to you. However our process is exaggerated because of Florida requirements to complete an official community assessment report (known as the Evaluation and Appraisal Report). Here are the basic steps:

1a) Determine local critical issues through public forums
1b) Evaluate current community conditions & past planning practices.
2) Identify policy solutions/alternatives to critical issues and community conditions
3) Conduct public hearings about solutions/alternatives
4) Adopt plan.
5) Revise LDRs

5 easy steps that center around the basic planning model. We started in Fall 2004 and will finish with the Comp Plan in Fall 2007. Then we will revise the LDRs....

Qs on Data & Community Information:

Remember most people will not read all of this data, so focus on quality not quantity. The key issue is to make sure your goals, objectives, and policies can be supported by your data and analysis.

Also, we have done 2 things to make the Comp Plan more user friendly 1) Made 2 volumes 1 with gops and 1 with d&a. 2) Included illustrations, pictures, maps, and other graphics that explain or highlight the policy outcomes in the gops volume.

Hope those ideas help.... Look forward to reading more of your posts to get new ideas.
 
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#55
The PUBLIC

Know that no matter what you do the public at some point will be very very angry with some part of the plan
 

bud

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#56
Q. What should I know before starting to develop a comprehensive plan for my community?
Know the Law, because that is the expession of the will of the People. Has any such plan ever been duly published, adopted and filed as a matter of public record in the County Probate Court. This is required by statute but it is a little known fact that since the "Master Plan", the official map is a fake it has never been adopted; therefore it is not on record as a matter of law. This is a very touchy subject I have found, especially in the Probate Court. Apparently Lawyers make a good living from all this confusion. As some wit has said, "If you're not part of the solution there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem".

Question:
What can we do to promote cross-jurisdictional communication and cooperation when developing comprehensive plans
.
Isn't that what the Regional Planning Commission is for? As a matter of coordination that is what an Architect is for; but it seems the Architect has been lost in the shuffle - the big boy politicians and other wheeler dealers have taken that prerogative to themselves by default.

Q. What is different between Comprehensive Plan and Master Planning ? and What is different between Structure planning and Detail Planning?
Good question. I would say they might be one in the same - it depends on the size of the project. If it is a Master Plan for an entire City, a Comprehensive Plan would be for the entire County or Region, in as much as the City is a subdivision of the County or Region. I realize that in practice this is not so clearly defined.

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
Example:

Alabama Code

Section 11-52-8 Municipal Planning

Adoption, etc., of master plan for physical development of municipality by commission — Authorization and procedure generally; contents of plan. It shall be the function and duty of the commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the municipality, including any areas outside of its boundaries which, in the commission's judgment, bear relation to the planning of such municipality. Such plan, with the accompanying maps, plats, charts and descriptive matter shall show the commission's recommendations for the development of said territory, including, among other things, the general location, character and extent of streets, viaducts, subways, bridges, waterways, waterfronts, boulevards, parkways, playgrounds, squares, parks, aviation fields and other public ways, grounds and open spaces, the general location of public buildings and other public property, the general location and extent of public utilities and terminals, whether publicly or privately owned or operated, for water, light, sanitation, transportation, communication, power and other purposes, the removal, relocation, widening, narrowing, vacating, abandonment, change of use or extension of any of the foregoing ways, grounds, open spaces, buildings, property, utilities or terminals; as well as a zoning plan for the control of the height, area, bulk, location, and use of buildings and premises. As the work of making the whole master plan progresses, the commission may from time to time adopt and publish a part or parts thereof, any such part to cover one or more major sections or divisions of the municipality or one or more of the aforesaid or other functional matters to be included in the plan. The commission may from time to time amend, extend or add to the plan.
(Acts 1935, No. 534, p. 1126; Code 1940, T. 37, §791.)

Section 11-85-4 Regional Planning

Adoption, etc., of master plan for physical development of region by commission; contents and purpose of plan. Any regional planning commission is hereby authorized and empowered to make, adopt, amend, extend and add to a master regional plan for the physical development of its region. Such plan shall be based on comprehensive studies of the present and future development of the region with due regard to its relation to neighboring regions and the state as a whole and to neighboring states. Such plan, including maps, charts, diagrams and descriptive matter, shall show the commission's recommendations for the physical development of the region and may include, among other things, the general location, extent and character of streets, parks and other public ways, grounds and open spaces, public buildings and properties and public utilities (whether publicly or privately owned or operated) which affect the development of the region as a whole or which affect more than one political subdivision of the state within the region, the general location of forests, agricultural and open development areas for purposes of conservation, food and water supply, sanitary and drainage facilities or the protection of future urban development and a zoning plan for the control of the height and area or bulk, location and use of buildings and premises and of the density of population. Such master plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the region and of public improvements and utilities which do not begin and terminate within the boundaries of any single municipality or which do not relate exclusively to the development of any single municipality and which will, in accordance with the present and future needs of the region and the state, best promote health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare, as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development.
(Acts 1935, No. 534, p. 1126; Code 1940, T. 37, §811.)


It is also a matter of fact that experts in Planning say, “No one can design a city”; no doubt they mean, no one on Earth. Then the question is, “Is there other intelligent life in the universe that can?” I should say so. What's it all about - Orderly and systematic development, by design - with a willing client, Architects following the principles of good design can design and build anything anywhere with due regard for the natural ecological and sociological environment and for everyone and everything concerned.

Moderator note:
(nerudite) Note: some of the discussion in this post is State-specific to Alabama. As always, consult your local State/Provincial laws and planning enabling legislation when beginning the comprehensive planning process.


Notice Alabama Laws are dated 1935 - 1940 and are in accord with Dillon's Rule rather than Home Rule.
 
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NHPlanner

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#57
Moderator note:
Follow up mesage by bud regarding the "politics" of enabling legislation deleted. This thread is not the appropriate place for politics or agenda pushing.



Please, stay on topic in the threads outside of the FAC. If you want to discuss the politics of enabling legislation, please do so in a new thread devoted to that topic.
 
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#58
Read the enabling act and understand the process. You really can't do anything until you know what you are required to do and when you are required to do it.
 

Tobinn

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#59
First things first...

Q. Why Have a Comprehensive Plan?

A. The City’s Comprehensive Plan serves as a guide for local decision-making and forms the foundation of the City’s Code of Ordinances. It is a dynamic tool used by the City to balance and reconcile all the various aspects of maintenance and growth. The City’s Comprehensive Plan provides assurance to the citizens of the City that development implements the City’s vision for the future. The Comprehensive Plan is the veritable DNA or blueprint of the community. It is important to remember that Comprehensive Plans are not static documents. They evolve and change just as a community changes over time.

The following is from http://archive.ci.champaign.il.us/compplan/1/1_1.htm

* It conveys a vision of the community in 15 to 20 years
* It anticipates the future needs of the community
* It represents the public interest
* It presents policy direction
* It presents a comprehensive strategy to shape a community's future
* It coordinates the inter-relatedness of the many city functions
* It balances the needs of existing urban areas with the needs of growth areas
* It designates land use and transportation routes through the Future Land Use Map
 
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#60
Q. What is different between Comprehensive Plan and Master Planning ? and What is different between Structure planning and Detail Planning?
These terms are often used synonymously. However, I think of a Comprehensive Plan as just the policy document that provides the basis for every aspect of the physical and economic development of the community, including the basis of the zoning and subdivision regulations. But I think of a Master Plan as a combined document that contains the Comp Plan, Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations and maybe even the sign code and any additional development guidelines that have been adopted. Some communities may also call this a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). You may also see the term "master plan" applied to the development of large tracts of land (i.e. A Master Planned Community."
 
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