Community planning is a valued process to identify the vision and priorities of the diverse and unique areas within Hillsborough County. The Planning Commission takes pride in its commitment to community planning. Moreover, we truly appreciate the dedicated citizens who invest so much of their personal time working to preserve and develop their community's identity and vision for the future.
The Planning Commission is tasked with community planning per a 2010 interlocal agreement with the Board of County Commissioners. The agreement states, "The Planning Commission shall have the primary responsibility for the development and update of Community Plans..." In 2009, the County Clerk's auditor noted the importance of community planning as part of comprehensive planning. He recommended that the Planning Commission take the lead in creating and updating community plans, while the County's Planning and Growth Management Department take the lead in implementing community plans.
The Planning Commission has taken his recommendation to heart! In less than two years since the recommendation and agreement, we have completed a new Greater Carrollwood - Northdale Communities Plan; updated the Northwest Hillsborough, Lutz and Keystone-Odessa plans; and are in the process of creating the Balm Community Plan and will be updating the University Area Community Plan.
The recent Countywide Planning Audit shared the same sentiment. It recommended all community plans be created in a "standardized format with clear guidelines." Having one office tasked with developing the community plans makes this job much easier and is less confusing to the citizens and other stakeholders. In fact, Planning Commission staff has proposed developing a Community Based Planning Guide, with assistance and input from the citizens and county staff to be approved by the BOCC to direct the preparation and update of community plans. The guide will structure a format of the plans, while allowing flexibility to accommodate special characteristics associated with each unique community. We are on schedule to complete the guide by December of this year.
The recent audit also said, "Community plans provide citizens with the opportunity for valuable input and buy-in in their communities." It recommended the community plan vision and guiding principles become adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission wholeheartedly agrees. Who better to assist the citizens in preparation of those visions and guiding principles than the Planning Commission as the local planning agency?
The Hillsborough County Charter says:
"There shall be for Hillsborough County and its municipalities a single local planning agency..., It shall have responsibility for comprehensive planning and related activities..."
Long range comprehensive planning and community planning are imperative to sustainable economic growth and to ensure the highest quality of life for the citizens of Hillsborough County. Your Planning Commission and its staff take this effort seriously. We work diligently to create effective plans in a timely manner and will continue to do so!