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The City of Plano received the American Planning Association’s 2017 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan for its Plano Tomorrow plan in New York City Monday. In the first web-based plan of its kind in Texas, Plano Tomorrow establishes a vision for the next phase of the city’s evolution, guiding future growth, priorities, services, development and redevelopment, while providing the community better access in a more user-friendly format.
The Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan is given for a group achievement by a planning agency, planning team or firm, community group or local authority that advances the science and art of planning. The award is named for Daniel Burnham whose professional contributions to the planning profession helped create greater awareness of the benefits of good planning.
Produced in-house by the city’s planning staff, Plano Tomorrow was adopted in October 2015 after a 26-month development and public outreach process. Through surveys, open houses and on-site meetings, more than 20,000 comments and ideas were received from residents about how to improve the city. The plan’s web-based format reflects a significant innovation in comprehensive plan accessibility and presentation due its employment of emerging public engagement technology and best practices.
The plan’s main components address issues such as mobility, natural environment, redevelopment, and neighborhood enhancement. A Growth and Change map identifies areas intended to be conserved or redeveloped, and areas where new development is likely to occur within the city’s remaining vacant land. In addition, two new policies were incorporated to improve community pride and a sense of belonging among residents.
Plano Tomorrow has resulted in better transparency of the city’s planning activities. It has improved access to public documents, eliminated barriers to community involvement, and allowed residents to give input in the planning process. The plan also provides a means to measure public response unlike conventional plans where public feedback can be difficult to obtain.
Key elements of Plano Tomorrow were presented in a series of videos, each three to five minutes in length. Following the plan’s adoption, the city documented improved engagement with local residents with 11,000 document downloads, 550 votes on citizen priority polls and 2,000 video views. Citizen polls on the plan’s interactive website prioritizes actions, and the Take the Case “meeting in a box” workshop allowed organizations to host meetings to solicit input from those who historically have not participated in the planning process.
“Plano Tomorrow’s innovative, web-based approach provided a platform for residents and stakeholders to play a meaningful role in creating a new vision for the city,” said W. Shedrick Coleman, AIA, Chair of APA’s 2017 National Planning Awards Jury. “The transparency of the plan’s creation and its engagement efforts are a national model for other communities to follow.”
APA’s national awards program – the profession’s highest honor – is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.