(and the Implementation of Your Plan)
When your community begins to prepare a new or updated comprehensive plan, or to implement that plan after it is developed, some groundwork is likely to be necessary. The citizens of your community need to know why planning is important and how planning benefits them. This involves some education. But it will also mean that citizens may be asking questions about private property rights, impacts on property taxes and limitations on land uses, as well as other topics. Below are suggestions to help alleviate some of the perceived difficulties/ misconceptions that surround these topics.
Talking Points: Benefits of Planning and Quality Growth
It always helps to have the points you want to make clearly outlined. There are several things that planning and plan implementation can do that is beneficial for your community, including:
- Planning helps the local government invest taxpayer money wisely, thus saving taxpayers money
- Private property rights and property values are protected and stabilized.
- There is more transparency and certainty about where development will occur, what it will be like, when it will happen, and how the costs of development will be met.
Other benefits include: environmental protection, increased economic development potential, and improved public health.
See “Talking Points: Benefits of Planning & Quality Growth” (PDF)
See “Talking in Public about Growth and Development ” (PDF)
What Can Happen if You Don’t Plan?
Planning is the means to thoughtful decision-making that results in creating and preserving the community that citizens want for themselves, their children, and future generations. Without planning, each decision is made independently, with little consideration of how it could impact the future of the community as a whole. Here are some negative consequences that are likely to result in the absence of planning:
- Poorly thought-out development that can drain local coffers
- Incompatible land uses adjacent to each other
- Deteriorating quality of life
- Traffic congestion
- Higher taxes or wasteful spending
Potential Planning Questions and Answers
Here are some typical questions and ideas to help you answer them.
Q: Planning is great, but will the elected officials actually follow/use the plan?
A: With a guiding plan in place, citizens can monitor decision-making about development, infrastructure, and other matters affecting the community. Because the plan contains background, identified local issues, opportunities, strategies, and action items, it will give them a foundation for discussing with elected officials how decisions made today are connected to the future of the community. The citizens can use this as a basis to continually request that elected officials act according to the plan.
Q: Are you going to tell me how I can use my land?
A: It has long been established that government has an appropriate role in protecting neighbors from potential harmful impacts resulting from a property owner’s use of his land. That is the reason we must receive permission or permits for such things as constructing a building or other structure, beginning a new business in a residential neighborhood, or dispose of waste into septic tanks. The comprehensive plan provides the basic information needed to ensure that each individual maintains their rights to use land in a wide variety of ways, while at the same time ensuring that those rights do not interfere with the rights of their neighbors to be protected from nuisance, pollution, congestion, and other negative impacts.
Q: What about private property rights?
A: A plan preserves property rights by ensuring that appropriate uses are described that allow an owner to develop his land for uses that are compatible with neighboring properties. There is typically a wide range of possible uses given along with a means of amending the plan to provide for new uses.
Q: Will the plan threaten farming and agriculture?
A: No. Georgia is a Right-to-Farm state. A comprehensive plan does not require a farmer to continue farming, just as it does not interfere with the continuation of farming. In many communities, farming is an important economic activity. Through the planning processes citizens describe their desired future, which can and should include all types of uses, including farming.
Q: . Will the comprehensive plan raise my property taxes?
A: While the plan is not directly related to property taxes, if a government plans its infrastructure investments and development patterns well, it is very likely to result in more efficient use of tax dollars and therefore can help avoid future tax hikes.
Techniques for Enlisting the Local Media
An important part of telling the planning story is providing information to your local media. Here are some tips, excerpted from American Planning Association information, which will help you define your message, get the word out and more.
Techniques for Enlisting the Local Media (PDF)
Planning Press Kit
Information and Resources
Planning Information & Resources
Why Do We Plan?
Best Practices Toolkit
State Planning Recommendations
Alternatives to the Conventional
Your Local Government Status
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
60 Executive Park South, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30329-2231
For more information about Planning and Environmental Management, please contact the Office of Planning and Environmental Management at 404-679-5279.