Comprehensive plans are general in nature and are purposely long-term, recognizing that some visions cannot be achieved immediately but take years to accomplish. Under many of the policy areas of this plan, you will come across some actions, such as updating the city’s ordinances that could be completed within a year, while others, such as developing a new North Hamilton Crossing of the Great Miami River and over the railroad tracks, could take decades. However, all of these policies, goals, and actions are important to the city and its citizens, and this plan helps provide priorities and guidance that will allow for the city to plan on how to prioritize financial and staffing resources, as well as determine funding for many of the projects.
Plan Hamilton is intended to be a flexible plan format that can grow and change over the course of its life with additional input from the community. As the city and its partners undertake some of the recommended actions, information can be posted to this site to keep the public up to date on planning activities. Furthermore, since Plan Hamilton serves as an umbrella policy document for the entire community, additional planning efforts, such as the River Master Plan or future neighborhood planning efforts, can be incorporated so that Plan Hamilton because a singular location for planning activities in Hamilton.
Why Are Comprehensive Plans Important
A comprehensive plan is a policy-driven document, meaning that it establishes goals and a direction for the City of Hamilton, that can be used by the City, our community organizations, and neighboring jurisdictions in making decisions that move the City forward in a direction established by the community as a whole. More importantly, a comprehensive plan:
Offers an opportunity to engage citizens in a process whereby they are the ones guiding the priorities of the community;
Gives Hamilton a unified set of goals to aim for as the community moves forward that addresses all the policy areas identified by the citizens;
Establishes a vision for well-designed neighborhoods and places that will have a positive impact on the community’s well-being and quality of life; and
Incorporates a preliminary set of actions that the City can take in order to work toward the goals and vision to answer the important question of “what will the City do to work toward the vision and goals?”
The desired outcome of any planning process is to identify issues and concerns in a community and work toward solutions that will address those issues. Because this process was designed to be community-driven, the City wanted to make sure that there were multiple ways for citizens to provide their input on what is important and what are their ideas for the future of Hamilton. The Plan Hamilton Process below outlines the specific efforts made throughout the planning process to engage citizens. It was that vital input that shaped the Policy Areas and Plan Highlights presented in Plan Hamilton, which are the major components of this guide for development and investment in Hamilton.
Unified Set of Goals
It was the intent of this planning effort to establish clear and simple goals for how the City needs to move forward over the next 10 to 15 years. After defining, and eventually refining, what the major policy area topics would be for the plan, the next step was to expand on each of the topics to set out the goals. The goals are the statements that answer the question “what do we want to achieve?” They are aspirational statements that serve as the broadest set of policies for the City. It is important to have these goals as the foundation of the plan because they are what the City can consistently go back to when evaluating future decisions and tools to determine if they will ultimately help achieve those goals.
A Vision for Well-Designed Neighborhoods and Places
Planning efforts that lead to well-designed places can have positive impacts on public health, quality of life, economic development, affordable housing, and public safety. Good physical planning can even improve the fiscal health of a community by lowering the cost of delivering public services and maintaining public infrastructure. For example, the future land use plan element of Plan Hamilton encourages the highest densities in and around downtown and encourages infill and mixed-use developments that will expand housing options, provide for more population to support local businesses, and increase economic opportunities with additional office and business space. Marcum Park serves as a great example of how a well-designed space can serve as a model of how planning for these spaces can lead to a myriad of benefits including, but not limited to, creating a community gathering space, expanding recreational opportunities, connecting people to the Great Miami River and downtown, and improving the overall quality of life. These types of benefits are a main reason that the City embarked on a comprehensive planning effort that established a vision for the physical design of the community.
In addition to setting out clear goals for the future of Hamilton, a core goal of the planning effort was to make sure that for every goal, the City also consider what it would take to work toward each of the goals. The plan needed to be designed so that it not only had an aspirational foundation of a vision and goals, but that it set out the next steps in what the City needed to do. In some cases, these actions are steps the City is already working on and may finish in the next year or two, but in other cases, some of the actions, such as the potential for a new North Hamilton Crossing of the Great Miami River and the railroad track, may take many years. Furthermore, this plan is designed to be more dynamic and usable than previous plans in that the City will need to make a concerted effort to revisit the plan on a regular basis to celebrate the actions that have been completed, assess what are the next steps to take, and determine if there are new actions or ideas that can be added to continuously strive to meet the plan goals.
These are just a few examples of how comprehensive plan recommendations, if implemented, can benefit the community. While the focus of the recommendations presented in this plan are generally based on policies for development and physical design, there are social, health and fiscal benefits that can be are derived from these policies.