Local Comprehensive Planning

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Basic Info

One of the fundamental responsibilities of local government is planning and the preparation of plans. Planning is the word we use to describe how a community shapes and guides growth and development. Some people call this process "city planning," "urban planning," or sometimes "land use planning."

The results of planning are contained in documents we call "comprehensive plans" or "growth management plans." Effective planning ensures that future development will occur where, when, and how the community and local government wants. There are several important benefits to the entire community that result from the planning process:

  • Quality of life is maintained and improved.
  • There is a vision, clearly stated and shared by all, that describes the future of the community.
  • Private property rights are protected.
  • Economic development is encouraged and supported.
  • There is more certainty about where development will occur, what it will be like, when it will happen, and how the costs of development will be met.

In order to provide for better consistency and coordination between local governments in this vital activity, the State of Georgia has passed laws and regulations to guide communities in the preparation of their plans.  The Office of Planning provides variety of useful tools and resources to help local governments comply with these requirements.

Qualified Local Government (QLG) Status

To encourage local governments' engagement in comprehensive planning, Georgia incentivizes it by allowing cities and counties with DCA-approved comprehensive plans access to a special package of financial resources to aid in implementing their plans.  This includes Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), water and sewer loans from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), economic development funding from the OneGeorgia Authority, and a variety of other programs from DCA and partner agencies (a detailed list is available in the "Fact Sheets" section, below).  Eligibility for this package of incentives is called Qualified Local Government (QLG) status.

NOTE: The Georgia Planning Act provides DCA with 30 days to review comprehensive plans and related submittal to verify their compliance with applicable standards.  Be aware that all deadlines are the dates by which the local government must have formally adopted a DCA-approved--the deadlines are not submittal dates, they are process completion dates.  We recommend 60-90 day lead times to ensure that reviews can be completed and any necessary revisions conducted and subsequently reviewed before passage of applicable deadlines.