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The comprehensive plan covers the entire municipality and has a long time horizon, typically 20 years or so. The goals of a municipality's comprehensive planning process might include issues of health, public safety, circulation, provision of services and facilities, fiscal health, economic development, environmental protection, and, perhaps, some redistributive goals.

The comprehensive planning process may be divided into these five major stages:

  • 1. Research
  • 2. Clarification of goals and objectives
  • 3. Plan formulation
  • 4. Plan implementation
  • 5. Review and revision.

Although shown as separate steps, there is much overlap between them because what is learned in one step may cause the community to modify what was established in a preceding step. For example, the detailed work of plan formulation, by revealing the true costs of pursuing a particular goal, may cause the community to reconsider its goals. We also noted that periodic review of problems and progress and subsequent updating of the plan are essential if the plan is to continue to affect the development of the community. Active participation by the citizens in the planning process is an essential element. The chapter ends with a brief statement on possibilities from citizen participation that are being opened up by recent advances in computer technology.

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