What is a Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan is a statement of what the Town of Moncks Corner is and will become. It is centered on a community vision and identifies guiding principles as well as specific recommendations with time frames for implementation.
The plan is based on a composition of concepts, historic and projected patterns, and relationships that integrate the social aspects of our community with its physical character and development.
The Planning Process
The planning commission must establish and maintain a planning process which will result in the systematic preparation and continual evaluation and updating of the elements of the comprehensive plan. S.C. Code § 6-29-510(A). Surveys and studies on which the planning elements are based must consider potential conflicts with other jurisdictions and the effect of any regional plans or issues. S.C. Code § 6-29-510(B).
The planning process for each comprehensive plan element must include but is not limited to the following items:
- Inventory of existing conditions. The inventory could include a description of existing conditions as they relate to the particular planning element under consideration.
- A statement of needs and goals. A vision statement establishes where the community wants to go. It should include long- and short-range goals for achieving the vision. It is important to involve the community in identifying needs and goals to create community support for the plan and minimize future objections to specific programs. When preparing or updating plan elements, the planning commission may appoint advisory committees with membership from the planning commission, neighborhoods or other groups, and individuals in the community. If the local government maintains a list of groups that have registered an interest in being informed of proceedings, it must mail meeting notices relating to the planning process to them.
- Implementation strategies with time frames. Implementation strategies for each element should include specific objectives, steps and strategies for accomplishing the objectives. The strategies should specify time frames for actions and persons or organizations who will take the actions.
What is included in a Comprehensive Plan?
The elements of a comprehensive plan are unique to each community and will vary from place to place. Per state law, however, the plan must address the following:
- Population element. The population element includes information related to historic trends and projections; the number, size and characteristics of households; educational levels and trends; income characteristics and trends; race; sex; age and other information relevant to a clear understanding of how the population affects the existing situation and future potential of the area.
- Economic development element. The economic element includes historic trends and projections on the numbers and characteristics of the labor force, where the people who live in the community work, where people who work in the community reside, available employment characteristics and trends, an economic base analysis and any other matters affecting the local economy. Tourism, manufacturing and revitalization efforts may be appropriate factors to consider.
- Natural resources element. This element could include information on coastal resources, slope characteristics, prime agricultural and forest land, plant and animal habitats, unique park and recreation areas, unique scenic views and sites, wetlands and soil types. This element could also include information on flood plain and flood way areas, mineral deposits, air quality and any other matter related to the natural environment of the area. If there is a separate community board addressing any aspects of this element, that board may be made responsible for preparing this element. The planning commission could incorporate the element into the local comprehensive plan by reference. S.C. Code § 6-29-510 (D)(3).
- Cultural resources element. This element could include historic buildings and structures, unique commercial or residential areas, unique natural or scenic resources, archeological sites, educational, religious or entertainment areas or institutions, and any other feature or facility relating to the cultural aspects of the community. As with the natural resources element, a separate board may prepare this element. The planning commission can incorporate the work of a separate board into the comprehensive plan by reference.
- Community facilities element. This element includes many activities essential to the growth, development or redevelopment of the community.
- Housing element. This element includes an analysis of existing housing by location, type, age, condition, owner and renter occupancy, affordability, and projections of housing needs to accommodate existing and future population as identified in the population and economic elements. The housing element requires an analysis of local regulations to determine if there are regulations that may hinder development of affordable housing. It includes an analysis of market-based incentives that may be made available to encourage the development of affordable housing. Incentives may include density bonuses, design flexibility and a streamlined permitting process.
- Land use element. This element deals with the development characteristics of the land. It considers existing and future land use by categories including residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, forestry, mining, public and quasi-public, recreation, parks, open space, and vacant or undeveloped land. This element is influenced by all previously described plan elements. The findings, projections and conclusions from each of the previous six elements will influence the amount of land needed for various uses.
- Transportation element. This element was originally included in the community facilities element. The transportation element considers transportation facilities including major road improvements, new road construction, and pedestrian and bicycle projects. This element must be developed in coordination with the land use element to ensure transportation efficiency for existing and planned development.
- Priority investment element. This element requires an analysis of projected federal, state and local funds available for public infrastructure and facilities during the next 10 years and recommends the projects for those funds. These recommendations must be coordinated with adjacent and relevant jurisdictions and agencies (counties, other municipalities, school districts, public and private utilities, transportation agencies, and any other public group that may be affected by the projects). Coordination simply means written notification by the local planning commission or its staff to those groups.
Who is responsible for creation, review, and monitoring the Comprehensive Plan?
The Planning Commission is responsible for defining criteria and principles for engaging citizens in a public involvement process, identifying benchmarks, and timelines to measure success, and serving as “champions” of the process to make sure that criteria and principles continue to be applied throughout the development and implementation of the Plan.