Community Plans

A Plan as a tool for decision making

Contrary to many other states, in Ohio it is not mandatory for any political jurisdiction to have a Comprehensive Plan. However, counties, townships, cities and villages are making decisions on a daily basis that shape the future development of their communities. Under those circumstances the need for solutions and effective tools to manage and plan for growth are alike no matter the size of the jurisdiction. Hence, a plan as all-encompassing as a comprehensive plan or as specific as a land use plan, a corridor plan, or a transportation plan becomes a vital tool to guide analysis and provide direction in the community's decision making process.

Although many political jurisdictions in Hamilton County have a land use plan, many have not been updated in years. Outdated plans are more susceptible to unanticipated infrastructure improvement needs, demographic changes, or changes in the industrial base, etc., and therefore, are less able to properly guide development or redevelopment efforts. Clearly, there is great benefit for our jurisdictions to periodically complete appropriate planning benefit processes for their communities to assure they "manage and plan for growth".

Purpose of Land Use Planning

The adoption of the land use plan as part of a continuous planning process enables a balanced and comprehensive review of incremental zoning amendments.

Successful implementation of the goals and objectives of a plan requires regular reevaluation of recommendations. This on-going planning approach is essential to assure appropriate flexibility since it is impossible to determine the exact location of all land uses in advance of need and development.

The Rationale For Land Use

Planning includes some variation of the following:

  • to accommodate future needs
  • to provide for orderly growth
  • to provide sound basis for short-range decisions
  • to provide an official position that property owners can count on to enable consideration of cumulative and secondary offsite effects of individual development proposals

Relationship between land use plans and zoning

While land use plans are recommendations for the use of land, and guide the type of development that should occur on a piece of land, zoning is an actual tool for implementation. Land use plans should guide zoning and not vice versa.

According to the American Planning Association's Planning Advisory Service:

"One essential difference is that zoning and comprehensive plan maps (Land Use Plans) serve different purposes. The zoning map must be specific in order to perform a regulatory function; general boundaries do not serve this purpose. The comprehensive plan map is typically very general; its application to individual parcels is less specific".

Types of Plans

Comprehensive master plans are a statement of planning policy as it relates to the future development of a community. They typically cover elements such as land use, economic development, community facilities, transportation, housing, etc.

In general, they are intended to be a means of coordinating long-term and short-term actions and integrating independent decisions.

Components of a comprehensive plan sometimes become stand-alone documents that address a particular issue.

A land use plan presents the policies regarding the extent and intensity of physical development. It typically includes an analysis of existing land patterns by use category, an examination of the amount of vacant land, and the percentage of each land use that makes up the composition of the community. A future land use plan represents the direction of growth and the expected intensity of uses of the land.