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What is a comprehensive plan?
Adapted from League of Minnesota Cities (www.lmnc.org) “Handbook for Minnesota Cities” and “Planning and Zoning 101”
City governments provide many important services, but one function stands apart in its impact on future generations—the authority to engage in community planning and zoning. Comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances adopted and enforced by current officials affect the future layout and landscape of a city for many years to come. Whether through the development or preservation of open space, or the redevelopment and revival of existing properties, what a community will look like dozens of years from now depends on decisions made today.
A comprehensive plan is an expression of the community’s vision for the future and a strategic map to reach that vision. Comprehensive planning is an important tool for cities to guide future development of land to ensure a safe, pleasant, and economical environment for residential, commercial, industrial, and public activities. Planning can help:
- Preserve important natural resources, agricultural land, and other open lands
- Create the opportunity for residents to participate in guiding a community’s future
- Identify issues, stay ahead of trends, and accommodate change
- Ensure that growth makes the community better, not just bigger
- Foster sustainable economic development
- Ensure more efficient and cost-effective infrastructure and public services
- Provide an opportunity to consider future implications of today’s decisions
- Protect property rights and values
- Enable other public and private entities to plan their activities in harmony with the municipality’s plans<
A comprehensive plan sets forth a vision and goals for a city’s future and provides the overall foundation for all land use regulation in the city. State law encourages all cities to prepare and implement a comprehensive municipal plan. Under state law, a city planning commission or department is tasked with creating the city’s comprehensive plan. At its core, planning is a relatively straightforward three-step process:
- A community takes stock of where it is today.
- The community generates a shared vision and goals for what the city will be like in the future.
- The city develops a set of specific strategies to achieve that vision over time.
The comprehensive planning process helps communities identify issues before they arise, stay ahead of trends in land use development and redevelopment, and anticipate and navigate change in populations and land use patterns. Public participation ensures broad and ongoing support, brings a variety of information and perspectives, and instills a sense of community ownership in the plan. Comprehensive plans typically also include plans for:
- Public or community facilities
- Parks and open space
- Natural resources
State law determines how comprehensive plans are adopted or amended. When the draft Plan is ready for consideration, a public hearing is scheduled with the City Planning Commission. The Commission considers the Plan, takes public testimony, and then makes a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council then holds another public hearing, and considers testimony, and evaluates the proposed Plan and recommendation from the Planning Commission. The City Council then takes final action on the Plan. Once adopted, the city should actively consult the plan, periodically review it for consistency with current policies and practices and recommend amendments whenever necessary. State law provides that comprehensive plans should be implemented through zoning and subdivision regulations, coordinated public improvements and city services, and a capital improvements program.
Want to be part of something great?
Are you a renter, landowner, farmer, lake homeowner, seasonal resident, year-round resident, local business owner or local business employee? Frequent participant and/or volunteer for community events? If you’re passionate about the future of Vergas, we invite your participation and feedback as we work to create this plan together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is this committee exactly?
The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee is a group of engaged residents and stakeholders who are responsible for helping plan community engagement and advise on the content of the Comprehensive Plan.
What is the goal?
The goal of the steering committee is to ensure that all perspectives of the community are represented in the community engagement and the plan itself. They will help with outreach to their own respective communities and provide advice on how to reach folks that may not be involved in other public events.
Who formed it?
This group was selected by the City of Vergas and is open to residents of the City of Vergas as well as stakeholders who have a vested interest in the future of the city's development.
How did the current people on the committee come together?
The City of Vergas made specific recommendations of members who would accurately reflect and represent the civic life and business community.
Who is allowed on it and how many would you like to see on it?
This group should not exceed 10 members, simply due to scheduling limitations. There are no restrictions to who is allowed on the group, although beyond December, the group will most likely be at its final capacity, due to limitations on onboarding once the community engagement process has started.
Who funds it?
The comprehensive plan is currently funded by the City of Vergas. They have entered into a contract with West Central Initiative to provide planning services, which includes facilitation, project management, writing of the plan, incorporating public feedback into the plan, and ensuring that it is approved by the City Council and Planning Commission.