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Comprehensive Plan Process: How do we get from Point A to Point B?

Learn about the phases of the planning process and what’s going to happen over the next two years.

Have you heard about Buncombe County’s Comprehensive Plan but aren’t sure what it is or how the process works? Big projects like this can seem complicated, and we want to cut through the jargon by giving you information that will help you understand important steps along the planning timeline. Read below to learn more about the phases, and keep up with the latest developments by subscribing to our Comprehensive Plan newsletter.

Phase 1: Launch project, Fall 2021

Phase 1 of the planning process includes gathering information about the County and creating a project management plan for staff to work from. What do we have to do to create the plan? How will we reach all County residents to get their input? Who are the community stakeholders, boards, and committees that need to be involved? These are just some of the questions that will be answered during the first phase.

Staff will grow the plan website and will roll out new ways of reaching the public through social media, activities, and local events. A Steering Committee of residents will meet monthly to help guide the process, and an Outreach Task Force of community volunteers will be created to help spread the word.

Phase 2: Establish the vision and goals, Winter 2021

Phase 2 is about understanding what the County is currently like, how it might change over time, and what residents want it to be like over the next 20 years. Through ongoing public engagement, the County will establish the vision and goals for the community. The vision is the collective idea that the community has for what the future should look like. The goals are what you want to accomplish.

Residents will be presented with critical planning topics, asked for their ideas and feedback about ways to address issues, and form aspirations about what they want the future to look like. Residents will provide guidance about a range of topics including the environment, economy, hazards, transportation, housing, tourism, and much more.

Phase 3: Develop Policies and Strategies, Winter-Summer 2022

Phase 3 builds off the results of the prior two phases and continues to gather feedback from the community on the evolving draft plan. The plan will include a refined vision, goals, policies, and strategies. A policy is a set of guidelines to help the County make decisions or act in a certain way, which aligns with the vision of the plan. A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a goal. The plan will also include a new Land Use and Character Map to guide development. Residents will review and discuss policy choices, their thoughts on the draft, and suggested revisions.

Phase 4: Adopt the Plan, Summer-Spring 2023

Phase 4 focuses on gathering support for the plan in order to have it adopted. This includes presenting final drafts to the public, a work session, and public hearings with the Buncombe County Planning Board and Board of Commissioners.

What Comes After the Plan is Approved?

The Comprehensive Plan has identified the community’s vision and has outlined the goals and strategies to achieve that vision. But now what happens? The following are examples of some of the ways that the plan will impact the County:

  • County staff will analyze existing ordinances to see if they are in line with the adopted plan. If they are not, they will propose changes or additions to the ordinances. As an example, changes to the Zoning or Subdivision Ordinances can impact how and where development occurs.
  • County Boards, such as the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment, will look to the plan as a guide to help them make decisions about land use regulations or about the compatibility of certain types of development with the community.
  • The County will use the plan as a guide when creating five-year Strategic Plans and annual and multi-year budgets.
  • Priorities and recommendations in the plan may allow the County to apply for new types of grants or funding.

Over time, changes to land use regulations, local government funding, service priorities, and ongoing planning activities can have a big impact on a community. The Comprehensive Plan will act as the guiding document for the County as it sets its course for the next 20 years.

To learn more or get involved, visit the Comprehensive Plan website.