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A community’s comprehensive plan is not just a file cabinet full of plans for future streets; parks and recreation; housing; fire protection; environmental protection; historic preservation; land use zoning; sewers; ground drainage and flood protection; water supply and distribution; downtown rehabilitation and parking; school location; and community character.
More importantly, the comprehensive plan is an integrated statement of the aspirations of the community (“this is what we will ourselves to be”) illustrating how the various function-specific plans in the community file cabinet are tied together to achieve a broad array of community objectives.
The comprehensive plan (also often referred to as the “master plan” or “general plan”) is a practical vision of the future capable of shifts in detail and arrangement over time as available resources and public preferences change. Note the juxtaposition of the words practical and vision in the preceding sentence. The comprehensive plan is practical in that it lays out a series of objectives that the community realistically intends to accomplish over the coming years. The plan also reflects <i>vision</i> in that it encapsulates the community’s goals and aspirations for its future.
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