Chapter 17 | Planning for Particular Geographic Areas


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


  1. 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?
  2. Does your community have clearly defined neighborhoods? Can you name some of them? Can you identify them on a map of the community?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?

Discussion Question

  1. 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?


Supplemental Resources

  • 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