Chapter 9 | Putting it All Together


Chapter 9 discusses how planners bring the various elements and processes discussed in chapters 4 through 8 together into a complete comprehensive plan. It summarizes what should be included in the adopted comprehensive plan. The chapter discusses alternative formats for a plan and also describes the typical plan adoption process.


  1. In one of the exercises in a previous chapter, you should have obtained a copy of the most recent comprehensive plan for your community. Look at its format. Is it an effective format, based on the criteria set out in this chapter? Do you agree with those criteria in the context of considering that plan? Can you think of changes that would make the plan more effective and useful?
  2. Is the plan for your community internally consistent? Are you sure? Compare the provisions on infrastructure financing (and/or taxes) with the provisions on housing costs; compare the provisions on economic development with provisions on the natural environment.
  3. Use the Internet to find copies of several different plans from different communities; check your library for some hard copies of other plans. Which one is most accessible and user friendly? Why?
  4. To explore the concept of consensus, work with a group of seven or eight people. Each of you should choose the plan format that you like best (preferably based on exercise 3 in this chapter) and prepare a draft table of contents or outline for a plan for your own community (based generally on the contents of the actual plan for your community—but not necessarily on its format). After each of you has prepared an outline and a proposed format, meet as a group and decide on a single format and outline acceptable to all of you. Try to accomplish that in one meeting.
  5. Look at the electronic versions of some plans. Web addresses for some current ones will be available at this book’s on-line Web site. How do those plans compare in user friendliness and accessibility to the paper copies of plans that you have reviewed—do you think your grandmother would agree?
  6. Go back to exercise 2 in chapter 3. If you found the land uses at some locations in developing areas to be inconsistent with the future land-use map, are those uses consistent with relevant policies in the plan?

Discussion Question

  1. Should a comprehensive plan include a future land-use map? Should the use classifications have hard edges that are easily identified on the ground, or should it use a “bubble” format? If you owned land near one of the borders between two different future-use categories, would you respond differently to this question? What if you were a developer looking for a site for an office building?


CREDIT NOTE:  Thanks to the following students in my Land Use Planning course at Ball State University (Fall 2009) for helping me to assemble the list of comprehensive plans shown here:  Heather Williams, Jessica Weigel, Christopher Urban, Alexander Sulanke, Ryan Sagar, Caroline Reynolds, Dean Kessler, Seth Jenkins, Matthew Hammons, Jeffrey Gibbs, Corey Feldpausch, Matt, Nathaniel Brugler, Jessica Bradley, Marissa Bowman.

Common Search Terms

Use these terms in search engines to find additional examples and other resources:

Comprehensive plan, master plan, general plan