Planning is an orderly, open approach to reaching specific community-wide goals. It is a process to help a community examine where it has been, where it wants to go, and how to get there by identifying where investment will be aimed and what community priorities will be fostered. Planning also provides a community the opportunity to avoid costly impacts that can arise from short-sighted decision making. A comprehensive plan provides taxpayers and the private sector with predictability and certainty regarding future development and public investment in services and infrastructure.

Taxpayers should expect their substantial infrastructure investments to be tied to a plan and to a budget. This means planning efforts should be rational and fiscally constrained and that plans should prioritize investments, development, and policies that improve community wellbeing and value. Planning should be consensus-driven and reflect public concerns and priorities based on input from broad-based constituents, including citizens, businesses, community organizations, government leaders, and others.

The comprehensive plan is the fundamental tool for ensuring that development is consistent with community resources and priorities. Proper planning helps ensure adequate resources and services are available, helps prevent shortages and issues, and avoids the need for costly reactive mitigation of problems that would have otherwise arisen.

A strategic regional policy plan (SRPP) was adopted by OKI’s board in 2005 and updated in 2014 after extensive review and input from experts and broad-based public participation from across the region. The SRPP is an online plan accessed at www.howdowegrow.org. The SRPP encourages consistent local comprehensive planning and rewards it with additional consideration in the funding for transportation projects. This report is intended as a tool to help guide local governments in their comprehensive planning efforts. The guidance included should be adapted to local circumstances, and should not be seen as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to producing a comprehensive plan.