Last Revised 3/20/01


A Comprehensive Plan—sometimes also known as Master or General Plan—outlines the physical development of the community. The future-oriented Plan covers the entire geographic area of the community and includes all physical elements that will determine future community development. Ideally, municipalities should possess a Comprehensive Plan before enacting other land-use controls, such as a Zoning Ordinance or Subdivision Review. A Plan that reflects general municipal land-use objectives based on projected needs provides a better base for making sound and just land-use decisions. A municipality that decides to adopt a Comprehensive Plan has the option to follow the New York State enabling statutes as explained in the General City Law 28-a, Town Law 272-a, and Village Law 7-722 or to proceed through the planning process using case law.

The State enabling statutes give the local governing body (e.g. Town or Village Board) the power to prepare a Comprehensive Plan itself or to delegate the responsibility to a board or council (e.g. Planning Board). Many municipalities work with the planning staff or hire a consultant for preparing a draft plan. An important part of the planning process is public participation. At hearings and workshops residents have the opportunity to raise questions, discuss problems, and make suggestions. Typical elements of Comprehensive Plans are:

In addition to ensuring the orderly and sound development of municipalities, Comprehensive Plans give communities the tools to effectively manage local water resources and to preserve and improve water quality. Most Comprehensive Plans throughout the Cayuga Watershed region recommend  consideration of development impact on erosion, sedimentation, drainage, flooding, water and sewer systems. To implement these general goals and objectives, however, municipalities must adopt such land-use controls as a Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Review, and Site Plan Review that define adequate designs and measures.

Municipal Comparisons

Exceptional Comprehensive Plans (only plans with water quality related recommendations are included)

Town of Cortlandville

Town of Danby

Town of Groton

Town of Homer

Town of Ithaca

Town of Lansing

Town of Romulus

Town of Ulysses

Village of Lansing

Village of Trumansburg


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CLW IO 2004