Summary of Services
The Planning Department provides leadership to facilitate high-quality growth and development in both Tallahassee and Leon County. The department has five divisions: Administration, Research & Graphics, Administrative Support, Land Use Planning, and Comprehensive Planning & Urban Design.
•Administration provides accurate information, creative and effective planning recommendations, and expertise in long-range land use, environmental, and transportation planning.
•Research & Graphics provides geographic information system research, mapping, graphics, computer, and publication assistance to the Planning Division and local governments.
•Administrative Support provides support services for the department, including additional resources in understaffed areas, and coordinates work responsibilities within the Planning Division.
•Land Use Planning reviews rezoning applications, planned unit developments, developments of regional impact, and other large-scale developments.
•Comprehensive Planning & Urban Design promotes the implementation of the Tallahassee-Leon County Comprehensive Plan, including oversight of plan evaluations, amending the plan, and coordinating long-range transportation, environmental, and special planning projects and issues.
•The Planning Department has provided outstanding services while maintaining or reducing staffing levels, reflecting organization efficiency with 25 positions in FY19 and 23 in FY22.
•In FY22, Planning will continue to provide services to the community at its current staffing level.
•The City of Tallahassee and Leon County Government created the joint Department of Planning, Land Management, and Community Enhancement – PLACE – to better integrate the implementation, administration, and executive oversight of planning, the Office of Economic Vitality, economic development programs, and Blueprint infrastructure projects. This arrangement has successfully delivered services and will continue performing at a high-level over the next four years or more.
7-A-4: Complete construction on Market District Park by 2024.
The Market District Placemaking project is designed to improve pedestrian connectivity in and around the Market District. The first phase of the Market District project will be the development of the central park space on Maclay Boulevard and adjacent pedestrian and safety improvements. The City has an ongoing project in the Market District that includes repurposing the existing stormwater ponds where the central park will be located, and beautification and transportation improvements on Maclay Boulevard and Maclay Commerce Drive. Public outreach began in summer 2020, to support the development of a concept plan for the park space.
The City awarded a contract for design and planning services for this project, which includes park-planning services; to minimize cost and maximize time savings. Planning services for the central park planning component of the project began in early 2020. The FY 19 budget allocated $1,000,000 for planning and design to start the project, the FY 20 budget allocates $1,500,000, and the Market District project is anticipated to be fully funded by FY 2022.
Staff met with Market District business owners to discuss the project goals, timeline, and plan for public engagement in February 2020. The project kick-off meeting took place in May 2020 with public engagement beginning in late summer 2020. Engagement activities included sending a postcard via US mail to 2,000+ area residents and businesses, hand-delivering the information to the businesses along the corridor, emailing 250+ project stakeholders, placing signs along the project corridors, and utilizing print, and social media. In all, nearly 140 people attended the virtual meetings, which led to highly productive question and answer sessions. Additionally, more than 1,200 online surveys were completed and the project team has received dozens of emails and phone calls from members of the community. Following the conclusion of planning and concept development, it is anticipated planning for the central park space will begin in 2021. Construction for the Market District Park is estimated to begin in 2022 and the project is currently on track to meet the goal of completing construction by 2024.
7-A-i-1: Continue Implementation of the Greenways Master Plan
he Greenways Master Plan is a set of 32 projects totaling approximately 158 miles that will provide pedestrian and bike linkages between some of Tallahassee’s most prized natural areas. The system of greenway trails outlined in the Greenways Master Plan, coordinated with the bicycle route system, will link neighborhoods, parks, schools, shopping, and work destinations, and wherever possible provide increased non-vehicular access to these resources for citizens and visitors alike. The Plan includes proposed routes, infrastructure improvement suggestions, and preliminary cost estimates. Through the twenty-year lifespan of the Blueprint 2020 program, this project will be allocated $15.8 million dollars.
Between now and the end of FY2025, over 70 miles of projects from the Greenways Master Plan will be underway or begin receiving funding allocations. On May 26, 2020, the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Board of Directors accepted a status update on the Implementation of the Greenways Master Plan project. Five Greenways Master Plan projects have been prioritized by the IA Board, totaling nearly 20 miles. These projects include;
- Capital Circle Southwest Greenway (which includes the development of Debbie Lightsey Nature Park),
- Lake Jackson and Lake Jackson South Greenways (which have been combined into one project for implementation),
- Thomasville Road Greenway, and
- University Greenway.
The Capital Circle Southwest and Lake Jackson Greenways are currently under design; the Thomasville Road Greenway is undergoing a feasibility study by the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA), and the University Greenway will move forward with the Airport Gateway Blueprint 2020 Project, which is expected to kick off initial design work in late 2020. These projects are estimated to absorb project funding until FY 2028.
Additionally, other projects include portions of 10 of the 32 Greenways Master Plan projects, totaling nearly 36 miles; all of these projects will, at minimum, begin receiving funding by the end of FY 2025. The City of Tallahassee, Leon County, the CRTPA, and private developers also have efforts underway on portions of 8 of the 32 Greenways Master Plan projects, totaling nearly 19 miles.
7-B-5: Achieve 30 consecutive years of Tree City USA status.
Current performance: Renewal application will be submitted at the end of 2020.
The Tree City USA program is administered through the Arbor Day Foundation and provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their urban forest. A community must meet four core standards to be recognized as a Tree City USA and must renew their commitment to these standards every year to maintain that status. These core standards include maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.
The City has been recognized as Tree City USA for 27 years. Various aspects of tree management are spread across several departments including Planning, Community Beautification, Parks, Public Infrastructure, Growth Management and Electric Utilities. In 2019, the City spent $5.91 per capita on urban forestry and has been celebrating Arbor Day for over thirty years in partnership with Leon County. Additionally, the City has earned a Tree City Growth Award for the fourth consecutive year. The Growth Award recognizes higher levels of tree care by recognized Tree Cities. Communities that earn 10 consecutive Growth Awards can achieve Sterling Tree City USA status. The City has earned Growth Awards for developing and approving an Urban Forest Master Plan, pursuing a complete public street tree inventory, tree planting in partnerships with property owners along canopy roads, and other community education efforts.
The City applies to the Arbor Day Foundation to renew its Tree City USA status at the end of every year. The application reports spending on tree care and maintenance, number of trees planted, and details about that year’s Arbor Day celebration. Staff from contributing departments cooperate in compiling information on projects relevant to maintaining and enhancing urban forestry efforts. Urban forestry metrics are being collected for the current year on an on-going basis, and the City will apply to renew their Tree City USA and Growth Award status for 2020 at the end of the year.