Maintaining General Plan momentum is a responsibility for the entire community. City leadership should use the Plan as a regular decision-making tool. City staff should apply the document’s principles on a day-to-day basis, keeping track of shortcomings to be remedied. Residents, property owners and developers need to rely on the General Plan and follow its directions. Together, all these stakeholders should be involved in the monitoring responsibility: oversight, updating and following Plan directions.
The City will take an active leadership role in promoting use and implementation of the General Plan. However, implementation cannot rest on the City alone. The private sector, non-profits, and community members are pivotal to successful implementation. It will take the concerted efforts of residents, businesses, and the City’s boards, committees and commissions, to name a few, to bring the General Plan from vision to reality.
As the City’s appointed advisors on planning matters, the Planning and Zoning Commission is responsible for broad General Plan supervision. The Director of Development Services, however, is the Plan administrator tasked to provide regular General Plan upkeep services. Basic information about planning and development activity, especially changes in each of the Element’s status, is a fundamental tool in Plan maintenance. It is essential to keep the document current by practicing the following procedures on an annual basis.
Periodic revisions to the Land Use Plan map should be made to record: approved Major or Minor General Plan Amendments; annexation areas; special planning or target areas; and, where appropriate, cumulative, street pattern extensions or closures, and additions or alterations to open space/pathways.
Preferably, maps would be updated on an annual basis, soon after the annual General Plan Amendment hearing. Retaining outdated maps can provide a valuable “time lapse” tool for observing the progress and transition (e.g., land use, housing, transportation) of implementation activities.
Amendments to the narrative portions of the City’s General Plan should be inserted regularly into users’ copies of the Plan and on the City’s website. It is not necessary to republish the document frequently. “Change pages”, marked as current updates, may be prepared to replace older versions of sections that have been officially revised. Periodic updates and changes to the Plan should be listed in an appendix at the end of the document. The listing should include the date, section or provision updated, a short explanation of the update, reference the amendment / change file number, or resolution if applicable.
The City Clerk is charged with recording changes authorized by General Plan Amendments. The Director of Development Services is charged with ensuring all public records and documents are current and up-to-date. Text revisions, as well as legal descriptions of properties involved in map amendments, should be conveyed to the City for accurate insertion in regularly updated Plan documents.
Annual Progress Report
The Maricopa Director of Development Services, in conjunction with the City’s executive leadership, is responsible for compiling an annual report monitoring the status of the General Plan. Included in the report should be an assessment of the validity of the goals and objectives and a progress statement on their incremental achievement. Problem areas or suggested updates should be detailed. The timing of the annual report shall be established by departmental policy.
The Planning and Zoning Commission actively participates in the annual review of the General Plan. The Commission should provide recommendations to City staff and officials on suggested Plan refinements. Throughout the year, progress reviews may be conducted as discussion or decision items on the Commission’s regular meeting agendas. Upon review of the Annual Progress Report, the Commission’s recommendation should be forwarded to the City Council for consideration. After presentation to the City Council, the Council’s final direction to the Annual Progress Report will become a matter of public record.
The report should provide information such as:
- A summary of the annual accomplishments, work program achievements, development activity, and major municipal improvements.
- An overview of progress on Plan recommendations of each element, together with a statement of activities anticipated for the upcoming year.
- Development trends information and recommendations derived from building permits and valuations, commercial square footage, employment statistics, code enforcement and disposition of applications to boards, committees, commissions and Council. Data regarding acreages and/or dwelling units rezoned or developed over the past year, according to use type, would be particularly relevant.
- An assessment of the validity of the goals and objectives and a progress statement on their incremental achievement. Problem areas or suggested updates should be detailed, along with an updated Implementation Work Program table.
All of this information is key to measuring the extent of community growth and should be included and evaluated in the annual report. As part of the on-going public participation program, the City will distribute the annual General Plan Progress Report to statutory reviewing agencies, abutting jurisdictions, civic organizations, stakeholders and other interested persons.
Changes of Conditions
Unforeseen circumstances, such as a major development proposal or a significant economic change, should be entered into the progress measurement equation. Critical needs — infrastructure extensions or repairs, responses to flooding or other natural occurrences — would require reallocation of planning and funding priorities.
When “brushfire” requirements alter the City’s use of resources toward General Plan implementation, the diversion of effort should be noted in ratings and reports of progress. Flexibility is a key concept in Plan implementation. When opportunities present themselves, the City will be prepared to take advantage of them. Mid-year briefing reports from staff or citizen groups could indicate possibilities for tourism attraction or economic development that might be enhanced by additional, special implementation initiatives. With City Council approval, any such prospect may merit a change of direction of planning efforts to benefit from previously unforeseen options.