A modern community is also a community that is diverse in character. The diverse geography of a community often suggests the need for detailed plans that are part of the comprehensive plan but that focus on such areas as: specific neighborhoods; other districts or sectors, such as industrial parks or entertainment districts; downtowns; historic districts; viable agricultural lands; sensitive environmental areas; and major road corridors and gateways. This chapter discusses the substantive issues involved in planning for such areas. It also outlines the process for incorporating small area plans into a larger community planning effort.
Weblinks from Chapter
- Austin, Texas, Overview of Neighborhood Planning
- City of Arlington, Virginia Planning Division Land Use Studies, Reports and Other Documents, Metro Corridor Sector Plans/Studies
- American Farmland Trust
- Identify three specific geographic areas in your community for which it would be useful to have special plans. Are the boundaries of those areas clear? Is each of those areas relatively unique, or are there other parts of the community like it?
- Does your community have clearly defined neighborhoods? Can you name some of them? Can you identify them on a map of the community?
- Identify two or three major corridors in your community. Now, working in a group or alone, pick one of those and conduct a strengths-and-weaknesses analysis on it. What might be some basic policy elements of a plan to improve that corridor?
- Check the Internet, or send representatives from your class or your group to your local planning office and find out what neighborhood or sector plans exist for your community. Obtain copies if possible. Are they consistent with the comprehensive plan?
- Does your community have a plan for its downtown? Does it need one? What would you do to make the downtown the “heart” of the community, as most downtowns once were? How would those plans relate to the comprehensive plan for the community?
- A number of cities support continuous neighborhood planning functions, typically working with different neighborhoods at different times; see, for example, the programs for Austin, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Seattle, Washington.
- Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has a continuous program of small area planning, focusing on different areas of the county.
- The City of Minneapolis publishes a map of adopted small area plans, with web access to the plans and other background information.
- Some communities use small area plans to deal strategically with particular locations and issues that differ significantly from the rest of the community. For example, see the plan of Apex, North Carolina for an activity center at a proposed interchange on a planned Interstate highway.
- For a fascinating large-scale but “small area” plan, see the Fairfax County, Virginia, plan for transforming the suburban Tyson’s Corner area to a transit-oriented development area.
- Many communities have specific development plans for their downtowns; see, for example, Clearwater, Florida, Alpharetta, Georgia, Madison, Wisconsin, and Lakeland, Florida.
- For examples of gateway and corridor plans, see the Southern Gateway Corridor Plan for Raleigh, North Carolina; the Gateway Corridor District for La Vista, Nebraska; the Broadway Boulevard Corridor in Tucson, Arizona; the Mesa [Arizona] Gateway; and the corridor plan for a section of U.S. 56 in western Kansas.
- For examples of plans focusing on the preservation of agricultural land, see the Dane County [Wisconsin] Farmland Preservation Plan, the Sussex County [New Jersey] Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan, and the Calvert County [Maryland] Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board.
- Many communities have plans for specific historic districts. For some good examples, see information on those districts in St. Louis, Missouri, Newport, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts.
- Some communities are defined in substantial part by their historic character, and preservation of that character is a focus of many local planning efforts. Examples include Santa Fe, New Mexico, Savannah, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida.
- In some communities, private, non-profit organizations are leaders in planning for historic preservation; see, for example, the Historic Charleston Foundation, serving Charleston, South Carolina; Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, with activities throughout the Hoosier State; and the Ada County [Idaho] Historic Preservation Council.
- Some historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- A website provided by dedicated volunteers, Louis Colombo, and Ken Balizer provides a number of resources on neighborhood planning.
- The National Park Service provides extensive resources on “Historic Preservation Planning”.
- The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides publications, conferences, technical support and on-line resources for individuals and local organizations interested in historic preservation.
- New Orleans has published a Guide to Neighborhood Planning that is downloadable from its neighborhood planning website. Although the guidebook includes specific requirements under Louisiana law, many of its provisions would be useful in other communities.
- Scenic America, an organization particularly concerned with the views from our major highways, makes available on-line suggestions for Byways and Corridor Management Plans.
- The National Park Service provides an excellent on-line guide to “Working on the Past in Local Historic Districts”.
Common Search Terms
Use these terms in search engines to find additional examples and other resources:
small area plan, district plan, neighborhood plan, downtown plan, redevelopment plan, historic district plan or historic neighborhood plan, historic preservation, hospitality and entertainment district, tourist district, corridor plan, gateway plan