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Comprehensive Plan
All local governments in the State of Georgia are required to adopt Comprehensive Plans. These plans provide a vehicle for government officials and the public to plot a path for the future. While Georgia law does not require strict adherence to them, these plans, once adopted become policy guides for the future growth of the jurisdiction. Comprehensive Plans set forth the official policies of the jurisdiction relating to its growth and provide a long-range view of the form and distribution of that growth in an official future land use map.

Comprehensive Plans are required to include an analysis of the factors contributing to the growth of the jurisdiction, such as demographics, the economy, housing availability, transportation facilities, the environment, community facilities, etc. Also, the plans must include defined implementation strategies for achieving the vision set forth in the plans.

How the Unified Plan is Different
The 2030 Unified Plan contains all the topics that Comprehensive Plans are required to include: population, economics, land use, housing, transportation, environment, community facilities, and implementation strategies, but it treats these topics and the process by which they are developed differently than plans prepared in the past.

Typical comprehensive plans present each topic as a separate "element" with little interaction between them. However, this is not how life really works. In reality, changes to one aspect of modern living affect all the rest. Where we live or work directly impacts our commuting patterns. How we build and how we travel shapes the environment. What we do for a living may influence where we live, what type of housing we can afford, how far we might have to commute, or whether we have time to enjoy where we live. How successful the county is at attracting good jobs and stable employers affects the tax base and ability to pay for the services we expect as residents. In summation, we need to determine how to make all these challenges and concerns interact and work together. The 2030 Unified Plan recognizes these interactions and plans accordingly.

The Unified Plan physically combines two separate planning processes, that of the Comprehensive Plan and that of the Consolidated Plan, a document required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The completed Unified Plan is a single document that incorporates both plans.

Also, because the Unified Plan and the Comprehensive Transportation Plan were developed through one integrated effort, they are totally coordinated, even though they are presented as two separate documents in the end. The integration of these two processes strengthen the analysis and result in better plans.

Making and Testing Scenarios
Another key way the 2030 Unified Plan highlights these interactions is by using a scenario building and testing process. Such a process has many benefits:
  • It promotes deeper awareness of changing trends and new challenges to our prosperity and quality of life.
  • It helps define feasible alternatives for the future, not just vague desires.
  • It enables us to contrast the keeping with "business as usual" with other possibilities.
  • It tests the consequences of how different choices affect road capacities, open space, housing costs, environmental issues, public costs, and the County's fiscal capabilities.
  • It leads to selecting a "preferred future" toward which the Comprehensive Plan can identify the actions needed to realize the goals.

New Challenges
To succeed at these goals, the 2030 Unified Plan process required an open mind, a willingness to look at the familiar in new ways, and to make the unfamiliar better known. The Unified Plan process challenged what we already "knew" about Gwinnett. It ensured that we truly did understand the challenges we faced and how we could find the proper solutions to them.