Comprehensive Land Use Plan

Use Plan vs Zoning

Difference between a Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning

A Comprehensive Land Use Plan provides a set of broad policies that establish the basis for future land use development patterns and regulations in the county. The County’s Zoning Ordinance and Maps provide specific regulations about how property owners may use and develop their land consistent with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, while complying with federal, state, regional, and local laws and regulations.


Comprehensive Land Use Planning (Blueprint) – A Comprehensive Land Use Plan is reflection of what is important to a community by guiding the future direction and priorities related to the use of land. A thoughtful planning process will document the interests of the community within a broad framework, help govern public investment, and manage change. The land use plan is carried out by many methods including policy changes, ordinances and by capital improvements. A land use plan may be used for the following efforts:

  • Balance what a community is, with what it wants to become
  • Provide a county wide perspective and policies on development patterns, land uses and densities to accommodate growth
  • Identify where and what type of future development should occur
  • Identify areas for preservation and protection due to the environmental and other concerns
  • Create a framework for decision making
  • Encourage coordination of decisions and actions so that development projects complement rather than detract from one another
  • Solve long-standing problems by coming up with fresh ideas and approaches
  • Develop policies that allow for industrial and extractive and other uses


Zoning and Map Update (Tools) – The zoning ordinance and zoning maps are regulatory tools that help implement the direction and policies of the comprehensive land use plan. By state statute, zoning must be consistent with the Plan and future land use maps. Zoning spells out the allowable uses for each piece of property within a county.



QUESTION: Why update the Zoning Ordinance and Maps after the Plan is complete?

Answer: Zoning is an administrative tool to implement and comply with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The current zoning ordinance and maps are reviewed for potential changes only after the shared vision is adopted by the County Board of Commissioners. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan comes first to set the direction, then zoning comes second to the administer that direction.