The Comprehensive Plan establishes the “blueprint” or “roadmap” for the future of the Town with a bold, clear, vision, and focused goals. The Plan looks at past and current development trends, previously approved plans, demographic and economic data, and community perceptions, in order to prioritize methods to fulfill the Town’s vision for the future. The Plan is comprised of goals and strategies that provide a framework for decision-making and the allocation of resources as they relate to long-term development. It builds upon existing assets while taking advantage of opportunities for improvement and growth. The Plan is implemented over time through annual budgeting, departmental work programs, zoning decisions, and development projects. While local governments must have a comprehensive plan as a condition of adopting and applying zoning regulations in North Carolina, the Comprehensive Plan is not a zoning or regulatory document.
As stated by the American Planning Association, “Planning Provides a Vision for the Community Today — and in the Future.” The overall goal of planning is to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people living in our communities. This involves thinking about how we can move around our community, how we can attract and retain thriving businesses, where we want to live, and opportunities for recreation. Planning helps create communities of lasting value.
The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association also highlights a few good reasons to plan in its Citizen Planner Training Manual as follows:
- A good, well-maintained and clearly articulated plan forms the basis of a community’s vision for the future. Without it, regulatory controls can be legally challenged as arbitrary.
- A good plan ensures that a community can provide services efficiently while maintaining a relatively low tax rate for its citizens.
- A good planning process involves a wide variety of citizens and interests. Once a community reaches consensus, the vision created in the plan can make future decision-making easier and less politically charged.
- Resources provided by state and federal governments are increasingly tied to good plans and planning processes. Bringing highway funds, water, and sewer grants, and environmental clean-up funds to the community is strongly tied to having a well-crafted plan that shows extensive community involvement.