What is a Comprehensive Plan?

1. What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A comprehensive plan can be defined as a long range plan intended to direct the growth and physical development of a community for a 10 to 20 year period. Ideally, and if feasible, it is appropriate to try to prepare a comprehensive plan for the ultimate development of a community. The comprehensive plan is the single most important document for managing a community’s physical growth because it can (and should) consolidate and coordinate physical planning needs, goals and policies, as well as all the separate community studies that address various aspects of physical development in the city.

This will allow for ultimate utility, transportation, and community facilities planning, and therefore can aid in a more time and cost-effective planning and budgeting program. The plan usually includes policies relevant to the development of various physical elements in the community such as transportation, housing, parks and public facilities. It provides for the distribution and relationships of various land uses.

The plan also serves as a basis for future physical development recommendations. These recommendations are supported by a set of goals and objectives drawn from existing conditions and the desires and aspirations of the citizens.

To further aid in its effectiveness, the comprehensive plan has to be based on a shared vision of the community. This vision is constructed through consensus-based planning. It should also be recognized that the planning process itself can be understood as a product. The continuing, on-going nature of contemporary comprehensive planning involves learning, consciousness changing, community building, constructing new relations, and setting (and refining) direction. These functions are part of the roles of all who are involved in the preparation, implementation, and updating of the community’s comprehensive plan.

The RENEW Texarkana Comprehensive Plan:

  • Establishes the community’s Vision for the future development and Redevelopment of the City;
  • Provides a framework for allocating City resources through the budgeting and CIP processes;
  • Provides a basis for considering and evaluating land use decisions, and planning for the future development and redevelopment projects;
  • Integrates other City plans and policies in a cohesive manner; and
  • Provides actionable implementation strategies.

2. Basis in State of Texas Law

Chapter 213 of the Texas Local Government Code provides the basis for comprehensive planning in the State of Texas. This chapter reads in part:


(a) The governing body of a municipality may adopt a comprehensive plan for the long range development of the municipality. A municipality may define the content and design of a comprehensive plan.

(b) A comprehensive plan may:

(1) include but is not limited to provisions on land use, transportation and public facilities;

(2) consist of a single plan or a coordinated set of plans organized by subject and geographic area; and

(3) be used to coordinate and guide the establishment of development regulations.

(c) Land use assumptions adopted in a manner that complies with Subchapter C, Chapter 395, may be incorporated in a comprehensive plan.

One of the primary ways in which a municipality regulates the development of land within its jurisdiction is through the implementation of a zoning ordinance. Here again, the Comprehensive Plan serves as the basis upon which all zoning decisions must be made. Chapter 211 of the Local Government Code requires that all zoning decisions must be consistent with a municipal Comprehensive Plan. That chapter reads in part:


(a) Zoning regulations must be adopted in accordance with a comprehensive plan and must be designed to:

(1) lessen congestion in the streets;

(2) secure safety from fire, panic and other dangers;

(3) promote health and the general welfare;

(4) provide adequate light and air;

(5) prevent the overcrowding of land;

(6) avoid undue concentration of population; or

(7) facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewers, schools, parks and other public requirements.