6 Tips for Developing a Successful Comprehensive Plan

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Often times, people question the benefit of comprehensive planning for their community – frequently saying that they have prepared a plan in the past, but it sits on a shelf and no one ever uses it.

While the famous quote “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” underscores that it is better to plan for the future and that planning can help a community better adapt to change, there is no question that undertaking a comprehensive planning process costs money.  So if you have a planning document that is not being used, then the effort was indeed a waste of money.

In the interests of using public resources wisely, it is important to ensure that when you do undergo a community planning process, you end up with a useful planning document that will serve as a guide for making future decisions, one that informs not only public-sector decisions, but also private sector investment decisions.  How do you do that, you might ask?

Here are six tips for boosting the chances for developing a successful community comprehensive plan.

1.  Create a Shared Vision

Engage all segments of the community and focus on broad issues to determine what the community values most.

2.  Consider Relevant Facts

Base policies and strategies on relevant facts about existing conditions/trends and reasonable assumptions of future outcomes.

3.  Be Realistic

The policies and strategies should realistically reflect the development options that are available to the community.

4.  Be Actionable

Map out a clear course for taking action — be sure to answer the who, what, where and when questions.

5.  Prioritize

Prioritize your actions; everything can’t be done at once, and most often resources rarely allow you do everything you would like to do.

6.  Get Decision Makers On Board

Involve elected officials early in the process.  Those who have the power to allocate resources to make the plan a reality need to understand, support and believe in the plan.

Kristin HopkiHopkinsK-blogns, AICP, Principal Planner

Kristin has over 27 years of experience working with a wide range of communities (large, small, urban, and rural) on land use planning initiatives, including 10 years in the public sector working for the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission.  She has developed a unique combination of expertise in research, land use planning and preparation of zoning and subdivision development regulations to implement plan policies, as well as community collaboration, whether through working with planning commissions, advisory committees and/or elected officials.  Kristen can be reached at (440) 530-2320 or khopkins[at]ctconsultants.com.

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