Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A Comprehensive Plan identifies the community’s desired future vision and the roadmap for how to get there. The core of a Comprehensive Plan is the community vision, which describes what the community wants to be. That vision is implemented through goals and policies used to guide future changes. Comprehensive Plans illustrate where, how and when the community intends to grow, how to preserve and enhance the things that make it special, and strategies for implementing the vision for how residents will live, work, play and get around in the future.

Comprehensive Plans involve input from all city and county departments and coordinating agencies, along with significant input from the general public. Public input is critical to ensure that goals and policies reflect the community’s values.

What is in a Comprehensive Plan?

A Comprehensive Plan typically includes plans and policies for the following:

  • Goals for the future
  • Future land use patterns
  • Housing needs
  • Transportation improvements
  • Community facilities
  • Public utilities
  • Environmental resources
  • Other initiatives to further the community’s vision
What is Plan Forward?

Plan Forward is the theme for the Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan. The Plan will envision a future that not only looks forward in time, but also forward in concept with new and innovative ideas to support our growing community.

What is the timeline for the Comprehensive Plan update?

The Comprehensive Plan goes through a major update every ten years, with the last major update being LPlan 2040 adopted in 2011. Minor updates are conducted in the interim, about every five years. LPlan 2040 had a minor update in 2016, with the planning horizon staying at 2040.

This Comprehensive Plan is a major update that will extend the planning horizon to 2050. This update will provide an opportunity to evaluate all facets of the existing Comprehensive Plan, and it will incorporate new ideas along with an updated community vision.

The update process will take approximately two years and last through the end of 2021. It is concurrent with an update to the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). A summary of the update process can be found on the Plan Forward Process page.

What is a Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)?

A Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) fulfills the requirements of the Federal Transportation planning process by describing the transportation needs of a community for at least 20 years. The LRTP is guided by the Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and is required to be updated every five years.

The plan must consider the full complement of transportation modes – roads, bicycles, pedestrians, trails, transit, parking, railroads and airports. In Lincoln and Lancaster County, the LRTP is consistent with the Transportation chapter of the Comprehensive Plan, but provides a greater level of detail regarding projects and financial information.

What are the Legal Requirements for a Comprehensive Plan?

Many states require Comprehensive Plans as the legal foundation for zoning ordinances. In Nebraska, cities of the Primary Class (Lincoln) are required to have a Comprehensive Plan if they wish to exercise zoning powers (per NE Rev Statutes 15-902). In addition any local ordinance or resolution (in the city or county) that deals with public rights-of-way or other public improvements must be reviewed for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan (15-1104, 23-174.07).

State statute (15-1102, 23-174.05) broadly describes the types of items required to be in a Comprehensive Plan, including the pattern and intensity of land use, the provision of public facilities including transportation and other governmental services, the effective development and utilization of human and natural resources, the identification and evaluation of area needs including housing, employment, education, and health and the formulation of programs to meet such needs, surveys of structures and sites determined to be of historic, cultural, archaeological, or architectural significance or value, long-range physical and fiscal plans for governmental policies and action, and coordination of all related plans and activities of the state and local governments and agencies concerned.

The Comprehensive Plan is adopted by the Lincoln City Council and Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

How will the Comprehensive Plan be implemented?

The Comprehensive Plan is a guiding document, and it is used at various levels of local government as well as the private sector. In a broad sense, the Comprehensive Plan is utilized by staff when considering development proposals and public investments, and by the private sector to help guide development decisions. Zoning and other City and County ordinances are directly influenced by the Comprehensive Plan, and zoning, specifically, is the primary tool for implementing the Plan on a day-to-day basis. In addition, all projects in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) are reviewed for their conformance with the Comprehensive Plan to ensure that major public investments are aligned with the community vision.

Why do we need a Comprehensive Plan?

The purpose of a Comprehensive Plan is to identify the shared community vision and develop goals and strategies for how to achieve that vision. The plan gives direction to local government decision making, including where and when to make major investments, to ensure that these decisions positively contribute to the shared community vision.

In addition, state statute requires Lincoln to have a Comprehensive Plan in order to exercise zoning powers, and both Lincoln and Lancaster County are required to review Comprehensive Plan conformance when making decisions regarding public rights-of-way and other public improvements.

The existing Lincoln-Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan was first completed in 2011 and has a planning horizon of 2040. A major update that includes projections to the year 2050 is necessary in order to maintain a roughly 30-year planning horizon, which has been established as an effective planning horizon in Lincoln and Lancaster County. This update will also allow for the inclusion of new ideas and viewpoints.

What is the Planning Area for the Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan?

The Comprehensive Plan includes Lincoln and the unincorporated areas of Lancaster County. Other incorporated communities in the County have their own planning jurisdiction and thus their own Comprehensive Plans. Even though these incorporated communities aren’t directly included in the plan, their input and planning considerations are still important to having a complete picture of the county.

How Does the Comprehensive Plan Relate to Other Planning Documents?

The Comprehensive Plan provides broad guidance for achieving the community’s stated vision. Fleshing out the details takes additional effort. One means of doing this is through the preparation of subarea plans. Subarea plans offer greater details about the intended future of an area of the community — including land uses, infrastructure requirements, and development policies and standards. Many of these subarea plans are prepared by the City-County Planning Department, while some are prepared by other agencies and departments. Subarea plans and planning documents incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan include the Downtown Master Plan, Lincoln Bike Plan, 33rd & Cornhusker Subarea Plan (currently under review), South Haymarket Neighborhood Plan, several Watershed Master Plans, Parks and Recreation 10 Year Facilities Plan, Transit Development Plan, Water and Wastewater Facilities Master Plans, LPS 10 Year Plan, and other miscellaneous local plans.

Who is guiding the Comprehensive Plan and LRTP update process?

The Comprehensive Plan update process is being guided by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department in coordination with an Community Committee consisting of members from the City-County Planning Commission and other community representatives. The committee will make recommendations to the Mayor and Planning Commission.

The transportation element will be guided by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The MPO Technical Committee, comprised of staff from the City, County and State, will provide technical support and guidance, while the MPO Officials Committee will adopt the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).

Following the recommendations of the Community Committee, a draft Comprehensive Plan and LRTP will have formal public hearings before the Planning Commission, City Council and County Board for adoption. The LRTP will then be presented to the MPO Officials Committee for adoption and will need to be accepted by State and Federal agencies.

What is the history of Comprehensive Planning in Lincoln and Lancaster County?

The City of Lincoln first adopted a Comprehensive Plan in 1952. The first joint Lincoln-Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan was completed in 1961. Updates to the Comprehensive Plan were completed in 1977, 1985, 1994, 2002, 2006, 2011, and 2016.

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