Long Range Planning

"Do you want new development to shape the character of your community, or do you want the character of your community to shape new development?"
 ~Ed McMahon, Orton Family Foundation Trustee

What is Long Range Planning?

Cities and counties provide two levels of planning service. They review land-use applications and they set the rules by which applications are to be judged (this is where the Land Use Code comes into play). They also conduct long-range planning efforts, as they try to look into the crystal ball and plan appropriately for the future. This second function is often overlooked by the general public, simply because it is more difficult to visualize. However, this is not a function to be overlooked, as the framework of our communities is set by long-range planning.

There are numerous reasons why long-range planning usually doesn’t evoke the same level of awareness as entitlement planning. For one, long range planning often sets forth scenarios that never come to fruition. And then there’s the problem of visualizing the future. How many people can truly believe that a grand vision of the future will actually happen? But the biggest reason that long-range planning is often undervalued is that it looks twenty or more years in the future. In a world where homeowners move every seven years and renters even more frequently, many of us have a hard time caring about our communities 26 years in the future.

However, none of those are valid reasons to overlook long-range planning. Even if neither we nor our descendants will be living in our communities in 26 years, we owe it to the folks who will be living there to take long-range planning seriously - to grasp the land-use issues that will define the 21st century and to be a part of creating a good direction.

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In December 2012, the City was selected as one of five cities in the nation to be awarded a 2-year, $100,000 Heart & Soul Community Planning grant from the Orton Family Foundation. The grant was aimed at helping small towns with a population of 50,000 or less to conduct long-range planning efforts, using the Heart & Soul techniques currently under development by the Foundation.