What is a Comprehensive Land Use Plan?

A Comprehensive Land Use Plan (The Plan) is a statement of the local government’s goals, objectives, and policies to guide public and private development.  The Comprehensive Land Use Plan is the overarching policy document that guides the development and implementation of zoning and subdivision regulations, location and classification of streets, public facilities, parks and open space, and housing and economic development programs. 


The key characteristics of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan are:

  1. They are comprehensive.  The Plan covers the entire jurisdiction, as opposed to certain limited areas or sections of a community.

  2. They are general. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan summarizes high-level policies, goals and objectives, as opposed to a zoning ordinance which regulates the design and use of individual parcels.

  3. They are long range.  A Comprehensive Land Use Plan looks forward 10 to 20 years. 


A Comprehensive Land Use Plan’s purpose is generally to: 1) identify the needs of a community; 2) develop goals and policies that directly address those needs; 3) identify and direct the long-term development of land, including uses, parks, streets, open space, public utilities and infrastructure; 4) serve as the legal framework for zoning and subdivision decisions.    The Comprehensive Land Use Plan influences nearly all essential community services.


Formulation of a community's zoning ordinance is one important example where general goals and directions outlined in the Plan provide the basis for legislative action. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan is recognized as a legal framework that supports and guides development tools such as the zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinances. Variations in tools such as the zoning ordinance are necessary to meet varying and changing conditions, but clear guidance is required, through the Plan, about when it is appropriate.


Improvements and/or new extensions of infrastructure should be in accordance with overall growth expectations established in the Plan. Annual spending and resource allocations should be supported by the goals outlined in the Plan. New community additions, such as a community center, parks, governmental facilities, etc. should also be directed by the Plan. These are just a few of the many examples where the plan is essential in determining appropriate action and in defending the decisions that are based on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.


The commonly accepted legal tools for plan implementation are twofold: zoning and subdivision regulations. In addition to zoning and subdivision regulations, other tools such as an annexation policy, mutual land use agreements between political subdivisions, and code enforcement protocol can be very influential in achieving the Plan's goals.


The broad-based purpose of this Plan is: 1) to describe options that will help secure a positive quality of life for residents; 2) to allow active participation and influence changes that are inevitable; 3) to state explicitly the commonly held goals for the Village's future; and 4) to establish means of implementing those goals.


The Village should periodically review the growth assumptions, goals, and policies outlined in this Plan (every 10 to 15 years) to maintain the Plan’s relevance, or whenever significant changes to the development pattern of the Village, such as when large annexations occur.