Take Our Survey!

We invite you to get engaged in planning the future of Frederick County by taking our online survey.  Completing this survey is the first step you can take to help define a vision for our community that will influence things in the decades to come. What do we want our community to look like?  How will we get around?  What kind of jobs do we have and want?  Who will be living here? What do we want our quality of life to be?

We need to hear from everyone in answering these questions. Please take a few minutes to let your voice be heard and share with us your vision for what Frederick County should become over the next 25+ years.  The survey will be live through July 30, 2016.  The results will be shared with everyone in early Fall 2016.

Here’s the link to our survey: https://livablefrederick.typeform.com/to/w7bOyE

The Future of Comprehensive Planning Practice

Planning for sustainability is the defining challenge of the twenty-first century. As the leading policy document guiding the long-range development of local jurisdictions across the country, the comprehensive plan has a critical role to play in meeting challenges such as resource depletion, climate instability, and economic and social disparities.

In the twentieth century, the typical comprehensive plan was a general policy document focused on land use and physical development. The plan was divided into separate elements, and it was prepared through a “top-down” process. This model began to change towards the close of the century in response to societal change and trends in planning practice, such as increased demand for citizen participation and a greater focus on implementation.

The following are some key trends that likely will significantly affect comprehensive planning practice in the twenty- first century:

Resilience: The increasing frequency and impacts of natural disasters, as well as severe economic downturns, have highlighted the need for communities to become more resilient— in other words, they need the ability to recover from disturbance and change.

Systems Thinking: The traditional model of separate topical elements is being replaced by an approach that views these topics as complex systems whose interactions determine the form and function of an even more complex system—the community as a whole.

Community Engagement: Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the ways citizens can be involved in the comprehensive planning process. At the same time, a critical need exists to reach groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the process.

Equity: Increasing inequality—not just in economic status but also in basic quality-of-life issues such as health outcomes and vulnerability to disasters—is a major national and global concern.

Implementation: In a time of fiscal constraints and questioning of the role of government, successful implementation is vital to establish the value of planning. For the comprehensive plan, this means establishing priorities, responsibilities, and time frames; effectively allocating resources; developing new implementation models; using targets and metrics to monitor progress; and communicating stories of success.

Adaptation: Conditions that used to be considered stable, such as the climate, resource availability and costs, and the local employment base, are increasingly subject to forces beyond the control of local governments. Such uncertainties call for an adaptive approach that uses monitoring and feedback mechanisms (a form of systems thinking) to adjust implementation programs on an ongoing basis.

There are no easy paths to addressing these and other complexities affecting comprehensive planning practice in the twenty-first century. The plan standards framework described in the report, American Planning Association PAS Report 578, is not a prescription or recipe. Rather it is a resource and benchmark for communities to use as they develop solutions that work for their particular circumstances. The ultimate aim is to help planners and the communities they serve realize the powerful potential of the comprehensive plan to sustain twenty-first century places.

Source: American Planning Association, PAS 578: Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans

Carroll Creek 3

Livable Frederick: A New and Dynamic Approach to Comprehensive Planning

If you don’t know where you are goingyou might wind up someplace else.” ~  Yogi Berra

By now you’ve probably heard that Livable Frederick is a new way of planning for the future. But many people don’t know what planning was like in the past. Here’s a brief history of how communities approach comprehensive planning has evolved.

In past decades, comprehensive plans focused on land use and zoning as tools for local governments in rapidly growing areas. In the 20th century, the comprehensive plan became an effective growth management tool for counties and cities in the United States. Detailed and sophisticated methods were developed and highlighted by national organizations, such as the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the American Planning Association (APA).These groups offered guidelines for drafting ordinances on zoning, subdivision and the like, to carry out the goals and recommendations of adopted comprehensive plans.

ICMA’s and APA’s comprehensive plan and zoning guidelines were primarily driven by land use. They were written and used to address issues related to growth and development. Related topical areas, such as housing, transportation, the environment, and public facilities, were included as elements to meet the needs of development or address public safety.

Essentially, the overall goal of older comprehensive plans was to develop land use maps, zoning and infrastructure in order to efficiently locate areas for new growth and the necessary roads, highways, water, sewer, schools, parks, public facilities etc. to accommodate predicted growth for an area.

In retrospect, these 20th century comprehensive planning methodologies provided orderly ways to manage growth, and to fund adequate facilities. They redirected random, leapfrog and scattered low-density development and business activity to communities and locations that could accommodate development. They did this by providing necessary infrastructure, roads and public facilities. These planning methodologies were adopted and used, with refinements, in high, moderate and low-growth communities throughout the United States for a half century or more.

One of several drawbacks of traditional land-use driven comprehensive plans is that they followed a linear growth process. Often, they produced similar results, along with an increasingly limited range of development types and transportation choices. Over time, these practices became more structured and less innovative. Yes, communities grew in designated areas, but these communities were often isolated from schools, shopping, employment and public places because of zoning, subdivision and transportation decisions tied to the plan. They also often lacked livability features that were found in older, pre-comprehensive plan communities, such as a mix of land uses in close proximity to one another or sidewalks that linked various neighborhoods or separate areas of communities.

Traditional plans are not well suited to respond to these broader challenges.  This resulted in rethinking the role of the comprehensive plan, and of land use and other tools and mechanisms used to achieve the plan.

In recent years, ICMA and APA have endorsed newer approaches and methods to guide comprehensive plans and land use in general. In addition to managing growth, current best practices examine the systems, networks and outcomes for communities. There is an increasing focus on how newer and older communities can develop and redevelop to become more livable, healthy and sustainable for the people who live and work there. They address how a community can incorporate sustainable practices from climate and energy to resilient economic choices to housing equity and affordability in the framework of a comprehensive plan.

These dynamic comprehensive plans have land use components, but are not solely focused on where to place housing, roads and facilities. Instead they are also oriented to how communities grow, redevelop, become resilient to changing conditions, enhance overall quality of life and provide sustainable choices for residents and businesses and local governments. That is what we want for Livable Frederick.

More to come…

APA Sustaining Places Recommended Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans

Livable Built Environment

Ensure that all elements of the environment, including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure, work together to provide sustainable green places for living, working, recreation, with a high quality of life.

Harmony with Nature

Ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued and maintaining their health is a primary objective.

Resilient Economy

Ensure that the community is prepared to deal with both positive and negative changes in its economic health and to initiate sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies that foster green business growth and build reliance on local assets.

Interwoven Equity

Ensure fairness and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, safety and livelihood needs of all citizens and groups.

Health Community

Ensure that public health needs are recognized and addressed through provisions for healthy foods, physical activity, access to recreation, health care, environmental justice, and safe neighborhoods.

Responsible Regionalism

Ensure that all local governments account for, connect with, and support the plans of adjacent jurisdictions and the surrounding region.

For Additional Information

Local Governments and Their Sustainable Land Use Policies http://webapps.icma.org/pm/9405/public/pmplus4.cfm?title=Local%20Governments%20and%20Their%20Sustainable%20Land%20Use%20Policies&subtitle=&author=Anna%20Read   International City/County Management Association/ ICMA Publications

Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice http://icma.org/en/press/print/local_planning_contemporary_principles_and_practice  ICMA Publications

Livable Frederick: Shaping Our Future

Livable Frederick is a dynamic approach to long-range planning. We want to put in place the community’s vision for a sustainable, high quality of life in Frederick County, Maryland, over the next 25 years. We plan to focus on:

  • vibrant, healthy communities;
  • enhanced accessibility;
  • sustainable business growth;
  • economic resilience;
  • equitable housing; and
  • a strong agricultural economy.

Join the conversation. Get engaged!