Comprehensive Plan Update: Frequently Asked Questions


What’s the Comprehensive Plan?


A Comprehensive Plan is a state-mandated, big picture policy document designed to help guide long-term decisions about various physical, economic, and social aspects of a community. Typically looking well into the future, sometimes up to 20 years, it’s required to be updated in 10 year increments.

Why are we updating ours now?


Our present Comprehensive Plan was completed in 2005 and is now due for its required 10-year update. Meeting this mandate allows us to remain eligible for state and federal assistance funds. 

How does the Comprehensive Plan fit within our other existing plans?

Decatur’s primary planning document, the Strategic Plan, affirms our city’s big picture vision, defines our principles, and lays out a decade-long task list for city leaders, staff, and citizens. It’s completed in ten year increments and is due to be updated in 2020. Each year, all departmental goals and budgets are tied directly to the plan and its objectives.

A variety of Specialized PlansTown Center Plan, Community Transportation Plan, Greenway Plan, etc. — have also been created to guide, respond to, or otherwise expand upon specific, big picture tasks within the Strategic Plan.

Complementing these efforts, the Comprehensive Plan we’re addressing now is a process required by the state of Georgia to ensure that all communities achieve minimum planning standards and procedures, especially as they relate to physical infrastructure and growth. Because Decatur’s existing culture of planning far exceeds what’s mandated by the state, we use the Comprehensive Plan process as an opportunity to do a midterm check-up of our larger strategic goals and accomplishments.

What’s the process?

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) publishes specific guidelines that the City must follow in preparing the Comprehensive Plan and its updates. Data concerning demographics, transportation facilities, housing characteristics and the like is obtained from such sources as City and County offices, the United States Census, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and other state and local agencies. This data provides a picture of how Decatur looks today and helps form a basis by which we can project future needs. 

Working from this data, the Comprehensive Plan process will evaluate the Strategic Plan’s vision, principles, and applicable tasks in light of current circumstances (demographics, transportation facilities, housing characteristics and more) and provide affirmation, updates or recommendations to address changing or unanticipated realities.

How can I participate

We’ve got a variety of in-person participation opportunities. See the full schedule here. You can also participate online by taking our Comprehensive Plan Survey here.

What’s the outcome?

The resulting Comprehensive Plan Update will ensure continued operational predictability for city residents and businesses, and greater clarity for city leadership and staff in effectively meeting priorities during the Strategic Plan’s remaining five years.



Who’s doing this?

In conjunction with staff from both the city and the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Comprehensive Plan Update process is being overseen by a Steering Committee made up of citizen appointments and representatives from our various boards and commissions. The present roster is:

City Commission: Mayor Garrett
City Commission Appointees:
Allison Adams, Jim Diez, Ben Park, Kelly Walsh, Malcolm Wells
City Schools of Decatur: Lewis Jones
Active Living Advisory Board: Jack Kittle, Miriam Vos
Decatur Business Association: Tim Martin
Decatur Downtown Development Authority: – Bill Floyd, Fisher Paty
Environmental Sustainability Advisory Board: Juliette Apicella, Greg Coleson
Historic Preservation Commission: Alan Clark, Lisa Turner
Lifelong Communities Advisory Board: Elizabeth Burbridge, Maria Pinkelton
Planning Commission: Harold Buckley, Jr., Lori Leland-Kirk
Zoning Board of Appeals: Michael Leavey, Anthony Lewis

I’ve still got questions.

Direct them here.