A Comprehensive Plan is a document, or series of documents prepared under the direction of a Plan Commission or Plan Commissions, with input from citizens and community leaders, that sets forth policies for the future development of the entire community. It is based on inventory, analysis, and evaluation of data such as land use maps and surveys, population studies, studies of the community's economic base and community facilities, housing analyses, natural resource studies, and community surveys.The Comprehensive Plan lays out the "vision" for the future growth and development of the community; what the community will be like and look like in the future; it then serves as a guide for community decisions, and provides policy and program guidance to promote the community's vision.
The current Fort Wayne Comprehensive plan was adopted in 1982. The Allen County Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1977. Although portions of these plans have been amended over the years, they still remain essentially unchanged and in need of updating. In a number of areas, the policies in the current plans have been implemented. In other areas, the policies need to be reevaluated due to the many changes that have taken place over the last 20+ years. New policies and strategies are needed to address current planning and community issues and those forthcoming over the next 20 years.
Indiana State law says that the primary goal of a Comprehensive Plan is the "promotion of public health, safety, morals, convenience, order, or the general welfare and for the sake of efficiency and economy in the process of development" [Indiana Code 36-7-4-501] According to Indiana Code; a Comprehensive Plan is required to include the following three elements:
- a statement of objectives for future development;
- statement(s) of policy for land use development; and
- statement(s) of policy for the development of public ways, public places, public lands, public structures, and public utilities.
In addition to these required elements, a Comprehensive Plan may also include elements such as:
- historical resources, population, infrastructure, utility, transportation, transit, park, recreation, and education information;
- programs for public works projects and governmental capital improvement projects; and
- economic development strategies.
- Establish a community vision created through community consensus, and capture the values, goals, and objectives of the community
- Create an up to date policy guide for encouraging quality physical and economic development in the community; prepare the community for the changes that the future will bring; preserve the community's character; improve the community's quality of life; and encourage actions that will be in the long-term best interests of the community
- Introduce current innovative planning, development, and growth concepts to the community
- Encourage the efficient use of public resources by coordinating development and future public capital expenditures, encouraging balanced growth in areas where adequate infrastructure exists, and saving future public expenditures to "fix" poorly planned or installed development
- Generate new strategies, new alternatives, and new solutions to address community problems, weaknesses, and issues; and build on the community's strengths to maintain the economic vitality of the community
- Provide a strong legal basis for sound land use decisions