Aerial view of city

Overview of the Planning Process

In order to develop or update a comprehensive plan, you need a process. The planning process is not unlike how we plan our everyday activities. For example, before you start planning a trip across the country, you need an overall view of how you are going to get there. Once you have that, you can plan the details for each part of the trip. This course provides an overview of the phases involved in developing or updating the comprehensive plan and the details that will assist with performing each phase.

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Course Info

  • Duration 9 video lessons (40 Mins)
  • Published Published
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Browse Course Chapters

  • 1. Introduction (3 mins)
  • 2. The Big Picture (5 mins)
  • 3. Planning to Plan (10 mins)
  • 4. Working With the Public (5 mins)
  • 5. Collecting and Analyzing Data (3 mins)
  • 6. Setting Goals and Objectives (3 mins)
  • 7. Drafting the Plan (2 mins)
  • 8. Adopting the Plan (2 mins)
  • 9. Review Activity (3 mins)

Course Description

The innumerable ways that a local planning team can carry out a planning process is both an advantage and a disadvantage. In one sense, a strong understanding of the purpose of the planning process can allow a planner to think creatively and strategically when developing a plan. However, new planning officials may find themselves doing double work, scheduling a project ineffectively or forgetting crucial planning elements.

This course describes the planning process from preparation to adoption of the plan, broken down into five main steps: collect and analyze data; work with the public; set goals and objectives; draft the plan; and adopt the plan. Each of these steps is vitally important to include in an effective planning process. For this reason, we go into detail to identify reasons why these phases are necessary. We emphasize, however, that these steps do not necessarily have to be taken in any particular order. In the big picture, all that really matters is that the planning process is able to respond to changes. Planners must be prepared to adapt to the information and reactions received from the public participation process. From planning preparation to the drafting of the plan, officials are in the best spot to succeed when they know how to effectively gather all of the information pertinent to local decision making and organize that data to create a useful tool guiding the future of the community.

Learn these skills

  • Civic Engagement
  • Land Use
  • Law and Policy
  • Plan Making
  • Zoning Codes

Meet Your Instructor

Mary Reilly

Mary Reilly

Mary Reilly is a land use educator with Michigan State University Extension.

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