Four Key Components of a Community Comprehensive Plan


In order for a community to utilize their land productively and plan appropriately for future growth, it is imperative they have a comprehensive plan in place. As the old adage goes, failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail.


A comprehensive plan, sometimes called a master plan, is an official document that outlines key uses, goals, and guides future decisions. A comprehensive plan gets everyone on the same page, keeps community leaders on track when decisions need to be made and provides businesses with the information they need to guide their decisions.


A comprehensive plan also shows prospective businesses and land developers who are considering engaging in the community where it has been and where it is going. There are several key components a comprehensive plan covers.


1. Provides Guidance for the Long Haul


Community officials, whether they are voted in or appointed, don't stay in office forever. A comprehensive plan provides future leaders with a clear vision to continue following after previous leaders have moved on.


2. Dictates How the Land Is Used


Land is used for several different activities in a community. A community must have clear land use zones in place. Some land is set aside for additional residential development. Some land may be set aside for agricultural use. Industrial parks where existing and new industry is placed is yet another land use need. Commercial land provides space for retail space and office buildings.


Recreational land, forested land, and wetlands are other examples of land use needs a community may have. Zoning laws are necessary in a community in order to preserve order and create a cohesive community where the needs of residents, industry, and nature are all taken into consideration.


Without zoning laws in place, a community can quickly become disjointed. A comprehensive plan dictates what goes where. For example, most people wouldn't want the town dump located in the middle of their subdivision, so a comprehensive plan would set this space on the outskirts of town or in an area zoned for industrial use.


3. Determines Infrastructure


Transportation routes must be carefully planned far in advance. It takes time to build roads. A community's transportation planning phase must take into account what the roads will be used for. For example, the transportation network that runs in and out of an industrial area must be built in such a way that it can accommodate the heavy traffic of semi-trucks constantly moving goods.


Roads and bridges must be able to accommodate the weight of semi-trucks. They must provide easy access to highways and interstates and not be routed through residential areas. Roads in agricultural zones must be able to accommodate heavy farm equipment. Residential roads must be carefully planned with safety paramount. 


Infrastructure planning must also take into account utilities such as the power supply, water and sewer, natural gas lines, and communication system. These utilities are a necessity, and the companies that provide these services must be aware of a community's future plans so they can plan accordingly for the upcoming increased needs.


4. Shapes a Community


How a community is laid out can dramatically affect the quality of life and the ease of doing business. For example, Phoenix is one of the best laid out cities in the world. Its streets run in a grid that is easy to navigate. It is aesthetically pleasing and easy to get around. Residents know what to expect and know how to find what they need.


In contrast, New York City is a logistical nightmare. Because it grew up so fast and urban planning wasn't a profession until early in the 20th century, it can be extremely confusing and difficult to navigate. A comprehensive plan will prevent this confusion from developing or continuing and provide a nice place to live and do business.


Communities who are looking to shape their future must have a comprehensive plan in place. This will provide them a clearly defined vision and prepare them for the inevitable changes that will come. Contact Community Sciences Corporation today to see how our land use analysis and strategic planning services can benefit your community.

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