ACP 101 Unit Descriptions

Unit 1 – Introduction to Planning

This unit is a short introduction to your role as a planning official. It will introduce you to your duties and responsibilities as a planning official, as well as the groups with which you will be working.

Unit 2 – The Foundations of Planning and Zoning

Many citizens who take on the planning official role do not have the opportunity to understand the historical context within which planning and zoning are done. Without this understanding, you may wonder how local governments came to be involved in planning and zoning. If so, then this learning unit is for you.

The goal of this unit is to describe how your role evolved from efforts to resolve historical conflicts and implement social goals related to land use. We will introduce planning and zoning and describe why they came about and what they are today.

Unit 3 – Planning Official Ethics 101

In this unit, we will introduce why ethics are a concern of any public official. We look at how ethics governs a planning official’s duties and actions. By the end of this unit, you will have a basic understanding of your ethical boundaries and responsibilities.

Unit 4 – What is a Comprehensive Plan?

Before you create any document or plan, you need to know its purpose and the components to complete the document. This unit reviews the components of a comprehensive plan created through the planning process. It examines the purpose and the basic information of each component.

Unit 5 – Looking Back to Look Forward

The comprehensive plan considers the past, present, and future for each community. This unit provides an historical view of land use patterns in the United States and the potential need for change. An historical perspective is important when it comes to changing the present and shaping the future. Without this larger perspective, the planning process at the local level can undo the progress that has been made and repeat the damage that has been done.

Unit 6 – Future Land Use Classifications

What is meant by future land use classifications? How does this apply to the comprehensive plan and the future land use map? This unit answers these questions and more. Citizen planners need to consider land use classifications when creating their comprehensive plan to ensure that they address goals and design guidelines related to land uses. Land use classifications are also key in creating and implementing the zoning ordinance.

Unit 7 – Should the Plan be Updated?

Now that we’ve discussed the components of a comprehensive plan, the next step is deciding when to take action to review and revise the current plan, or to create a new one. This unit is designed to help a planning commission make decisions about when to review its comprehensive plan and how to identify characteristics of a good plan.

Unit 8 – 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 unit provides an overview of the phases involved in developing or updating the comprehensive plan and the details that will assist with actually performing each phase.

Unit 9 – Working with the Public

Working with the public is a critical element of the planning process. Knowing what the public wants or needs has a direct bearing on the content of the comprehensive plan. This unit describes various techniques by which a planning commission works with the public and identifies what is required for making that interaction successful.

Unit 10 – Collecting and Analyzing Data

A successful planning effort begins with useful and relevant information. This unit describes the various pieces of information that may be available and may be able to contribute to the plan. While not all elements of data collection and analysis are needed for every community, it is important to understand the general process used to ensure that the information is meaningful and contributes to the rest of the plan. 

Unit 11 – Issues, Vision, Goals and Objectives

At the end of this unit, the learner should be able to describe a process used to develop or update planning goals in a comprehensive plan

Unit 12 – Drafting the Plan

Knowing what you want in the comprehensive plan and actually writing it are two different things. This unit looks at what a planning official needs to consider when drafting and reviewing the comprehensive plan. 

Unit 13 – Adopting the Plan

Each state’s planning enabling act specifies a process, including timing of parts of the process, for formal adoption of a comprehensive plan. Parts of this process have been mentioned in previous units. This unit provides a description of the actions that a planning body should take as it moves the comprehensive plan toward adoption.

Unit 14 – Going from Issue to Future Land Use

One challenge that planning commissions face is the task of taking land use issues, turning them into policy, and then ultimately deciding just where in the community the policies should be implemented. The future land use map of the comprehensive plan visually conveys how and where the community wishes to implement its land use policies. This unit provides example processes that community planners can utilize when faced with similar implementation decisions.