5 Specific Area Plans to Consider

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In observance of National Planning Month Rural Resurrection is publishing a series of posts on planning-related topics. Each year National Planning Month is recognized to promote community planning. This year’s theme is “Planning Is Essential to Recovery“. 

NATIONAL PLANNING MONTHMany states require a comprehensive plan or master plan for communities as a basis for zoning and land use decisions. However, there are a host of other plans a community should consider. Some of these “specific area” plan are often recommended in the community’s comprehensive plan.

They cover specific areas that are often touched on in the comprehensive plan, but not to much detail. Specific area plans get into deeper detail on a subject. They provide more background research, provide a more detailed set of goals and policies for that subject area, and often look at funding sources that help implementation.

Five of the more popular specific area plans that Rural Resurrection recommends are:

Economic Development Plans

An economic development plan develops a comprehensive overview of the economy, sets a direction policy related to economic growth, and identifies strategies, programs, and projects to improve the economy. Economic development plans can assist the following if created the right way:

  • Impacts to population growth or decline
  • Adjusting to the parabolic economy
  • Job creation or retention
  • Economic stability in an unpredictable market
  • Public and private partnerships
  • Human resource education, training and overall development
  • Housing stock, anticipated housing growth, and housing affordability
  • Commercial and industrial stock
  • Community amenities, including social, cultural, recreational, and arts

Parks and Recreation Plans

A parks and recreation plan addresses planning, acquisition, development, maintenance, and improvements to the parks and recreation system of a community. It not only looks into the parks and facilities of the community, but also the programs available to the residents.

Even though it is considered a specific area plan, parks and recreation planning is a comprehensive process that provides guidance and policy direction to local government decision makers. The planning process utilizes public input to gather an understanding for and responding to the parks and recreation needs of a community. The process also strategically examines a community’s vision for future community parks and recreation services, facilities, and resources.

Active Parks and RecreationThrough the planning process, those involved evaluate feasible options, develop a strategic action plan, and conceive a fiscal plan for long-term improvements to the system. The parks and recreation plan helps to link parks and recreation services and facilities to the community’s comprehensive plan, capital improvements plan, and policy agenda.

Downtown Revitalization Plans

Downtown revitalization plans outline a design vision for the central cores of communities. They analyze the existing transportation and utility infrastructure, public spaces, and overall neighborhood condition. The plan compiles potential economic development strategies and often branding and marketing concepts.

Downtown revitalization plans also compile a list of projects that are aimed at leveraging private reinvestment with public dollars to rehabilitate the downtown core. Such projects include private building improvements, infrastructure and public space rehabilitation, and programs that bring energy and interest back to your downtown.

Housing Studies

There are a number of different types of housing studies. Housing Needs Assessments are the most common type of housing study. Needs assessments compile and evaluation of housing-specific demographic data, economic characteristics and trends, current housing inventory and characteristics, government policies and incentives. They also typically analyze the adequacy and availability of selected community services. As part of the planning process, needs assessments also gather the input of area stakeholders and residents.

Housing ConstructionHousing needs assessments then compile a plan for improvement of the housing stock available in the community. It provides an outlay of the number of housing units needed in the market by type, price point, bedroom type and market segment (e.g. families, seniors, disabled, young families, etc.). The needs assessment also typically provides a set of housing goals, policies, and projects aimed at improving the overall local housing market.

Streetscape Plans

The Van Nuys Central Business District (CBD) Streetscape Plan provides guidelines and standards for both public and private development projects in the Community of Van Nuys. The intent of the Streetscape Plan is to provide direction for improvements in the public right-of-way that create a pedestrian-friendly environment and enhance the identity of this area.

The principle objective of the Van Nuys CBD Streetscape Plan is to promote a long-term, coordinated program of public and private investment in the pedestrian environment that will enhance the area’s role as the focus of community activity. The Streetscape Plan establishes a plan for the area’s public right-of-way, which includes sidewalks and streets. Design considerations for this space include streetscape elements such as landscape, street lighting, public art, street furniture, infrastructure, and signage. The Streetscape Plan does not supersede established standards by other City departments.

The streetscape guidelines and standards complement the Van Nuys CBD Community Design Overlay District (CDO) which establishes design guidelines and standards that focus on improving the visual quality of development by addressing building features such as facade and wall treatments, parking areas, landscape buffers, building materials, and signage. Together, these two plans will help to direct development towards a more cohesive design concept and will provide the community with tools for ongoing participation in the revitalization and development of the Van Nuys CBD.

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