News Release: Five Communities Recognized for Comprehensive Plans

CHICAGO — The American Planning Association (APA) has recognized five comprehensive plans through the second round of the organization’s Comprehensive Plan Standards for Sustaining Places Recognition Program Pilot. A comprehensive plan guides a community’s physical, social, and economic development, which provides guidance on local land use decisions.

APA’s pilot program recognizes plans that advance the principles, processes and attributes of sustainability as detailed in the Comprehensive Plan Standards. The program aims to increase awareness about the importance and value of a comprehensive plan that also addresses a community’s overall sustainability.

Submitted plans produced within the last five years were eligible for review and recognition. A team of professional planners scored the plans based upon the principles of a livable built environment, harmony with nature, resilient economy, interwoven equity, healthy community, and responsible regionalism. The reviewers also looked at the community engagement and implementation efforts, and the attributes that shape the content and characteristics of a comprehensive plan.

“The comprehensive plans recognized in the pilot program exemplify how communities today are working to create a sustainable future,” said David Rouse, FAICP, ASLA, director of research and advisory services at APA. “From innovative community engagement to implementation, these plans represent excellence in comprehensive planning and serve as a model for other communities — large and small — across the country.”

Comprehensive plans from 30 communities were submitted for review. The five comprehensive plans receiving recognition in the second round of the pilot program received either gold, silver or bronze recognition. This is the first time a plan has received gold level recognition. Gold is a score of 90–100 percent, silver a score of 80–89 percent and bronze a score of 70–79 percent. The communities receiving recognition for their comprehensive plans include:

Gold Level

The Imagine 2040: Temple Terrace Comprehensive Plan focuses on issues related to future land use and transportation, particularly as they connect housing, schools, jobs, and recreational areas. The use of historic resources, sustainable development, renewables, green building practices, and intergovernmental cooperation are also emphasized. Reviewers cited the plan’s key features, such as a policy listing, definitions, index of terms, and definition of metrics, which helps readers understand the plan’s objectives and evaluate its progress.

Silver Level

The Imagine 2040: Plant City Comprehensive Plan includes details not usually included in many comprehensive plans, such as green buildings, renewable energy, local food access, jobs-housing balance, public schools, and counseling of developers. The plan has a strong emphasis on refocusing growth and redevelopment in walkable, less auto-reliant neighborhoods. It is unique in its ability to simultaneously update all area comprehensive plans in concert with other county-sponsored plans.

Bronze Level

PlaNorfolk 2030 outlines a vision for the city that is sufficiently flexible to respond to changes in development patterns. The plan focuses on planning and urban design goals, with an emphasis on several key issues: safe neighborhoods; accessible transportation system; a healthy economy with a well-trained workforce; sustainable environment; affordable housing; a well-managed government; cultural and recreational resources for all citizens; a rich, architectural history; and a commitment to regional cooperation. The plan was cited for its depth of research; stakeholder input; and the use of charts, diagrams, and maps to illustrate key concepts.

The Fernandina Beach Comprehensive Plan focuses on creating distinctive and appealing communities with compact development and multi-modal transportation. The plan also emphasizes environmental sustainability with particular focus on land use, energy, and the natural environment while addressing issues related to resiliency and hazards. Policies call for denser development and improved infrastructure for more accessible transportation which will help reduce pollution and waste. Development plans call for the construction of green-certified buildings and better access to natural resources.

Plan Prince George’s 2035 builds on the county’s 2002 Approved General Plan to address the changing priorities, such as public safety, sustainability, and transit-oriented development. The plan includes several innovative practices, including the evaluation of parking in order to decrease vehicle miles traveled, converting brownfields into community gardens, and the launch of a health enterprise zone. Through a targeted public outreach program, planners sought participation from diverse groups, including immigrant communities, and frequently engaged with community leaders using a variety of platforms.

This is the second round of competition through the pilot program. The first round of plans was recognized in Fall 2016. All plans will be recognized at APA’s National Planning Conference in New York City, May 6–9, 2017.

The Comprehensive Plan Standards for Sustaining Places Recognition Program Pilot is a result of APA’s Sustaining Places initiative that examined how places can be sustained and how places can sustain life and civilizations. Planning’s comprehensive focus is not limited to a building or a site, but encompasses all scales and all forms of organization of human settlements, from rural areas and small towns to cities and metropolitan regions. The program is run through APA’s National Centers for Planning.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit

# # #


Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

April 11, 2017