Too often a community’s comprehensive plan is updated out of obligation without much thought into how it might be modernized to address the evolving issues that a community faces.
The Illinois Municipal Code provides communities the authority to create comprehensive plans. Compared to some states, there are very few “must haves” that are required to be included. This should be viewed as an opportunity to evolve the comprehensive plan to improve quality of life and to customize comprehensive plans to address the unique issues of an individual community. For example, many comprehensive plans do not address topics near and dear to residents and property owners. Depending on the community, it may be appropriate to expand the topics addressed in a comprehensive plan to include health, food systems, sustainability, aging in place, workforce housing, homelessness, social services, historic preservation, multi-modal transportation, technology infrastructure and more. The comprehensive plan can then provide the policy guidance that decision-makers and staff need to address the issues that matter most to the community. This also helps to ensure the updated plan does not collect dust on the proverbial shelf.