City of Decatur 2050

Comprehensive Plan

What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A comprehensive plan should be a vision of what a community is to be in the future. The process of developing this plan should be a community-wide effort. All interest groups should play a part in delineating this vision. Specific goals and objectives should be developed along with a time frame for implementation. The contents of a comprehensive plan can vary from community to community, but in most cases, a plan should consist of the following elements:

  • Land Use (both existing and future)
  • Demographics (existing and projected)
  • Housing
  • Infrastructure
  • Economic Development
  • Recreation
  • Transportation

It is a PROCESS...

  • That determines community goals and aspirations in terms of community development.
  • That expresses and regulates public policies on: transportation; utilities; land use; recreation; and housing.
  • That can encompass large geographical areas, a broad range of topics, and cover a long-term time horizon.
  • That identifies the community’s vision and what types of development the City is seeking…residential, commercial and/or industrial.

It is a TOOL...

  • For planning the future growth or decline of a local community.
  • That can be used to address the constant change and evolution of a community.
  • That is sometimes referred to as land use plans—they often deal with issues related to the appropriate uses of land.
  • That can be used to address compatibility issues between various uses of land; management and preservation of natural resources; identification and preservation of historically significant lands and structures; and adequate planning for infrastructure needs.


  • For the future growth of a community. As the term “comprehensive” suggests, this is an all-inclusive approach to addressing the issue of a community’s future growth.
  • As an official document, designed to be adopted into law by some form of local government. The document should then serve as a policy guide to decisions about community development.