COMPREHENSIVE PLAN 2003 UPDATE

The Comprehensive Planning Process

Comprehensive planning has been an integral part of the city planning process for hundreds of years. The original master plans in early American cities provided designs for streets, open space, available building lots and institutional facilities. “Comprehensive planning is considered to be the most effective tool in land use planning for local governments and should represent a community’s blueprint for the future.”[1]

“The purpose of comprehensive planning has been defined as a means to:

1.      Provide formal reasoning and basis for local land use policies

2.      Provide detailed documentation of communities’ special features

3.      Provide documentation of specific threats to communities’ special features, such as unplanned growth and construction

4.      Provide strategies for protecting these special features and recommendations for integrating all planning elements with the objective of successful implementation

5.      Encourage community participation

6.      Enhance educational process

7.      Articulate a vision for the future

8.      Promote local and regional cooperation”[2]

In 1994 the General Assembly of South Carolina passed the “South Carolina Local Government Comprehensive Planning Enabling Act” which consolidated and updated existing planning legislation. The Act required local governments implementing land use controls such as zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations to develop and maintain a planning process. One aspect of this process is the development of a comprehensive land use plan which provides the “blueprint” for directing and planning for growth and development in the City.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (the Plan) is intended to provide a long term vision and plan for the community; it is the “essential first step in the planning process”[3]of a city and as such is composed of several elements intended to address the various facets of growth and development within in the City. Comprehensive plans are required by law to include seven planning elements, along with any other element determined to be needed in the local community. These seven elements comprise the comprehensive plan and include: population, economic, natural resources, cultural resources, community facilities, housing, and land use.

All proposed development must be reviewed for compatibility with the Plan by the Planning Commission and be in accordance with the goals and policies set forth by the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

All of the elements are required to include an inventory of existing conditions, a statement of needs and goals, and implementation strategies with time frames. The City of Beaufort’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan is composed of eight elements which are:

Element I: Population Element

Element II: Natural Resources

Element III: Cultural and Historic Resources

Element IV: Economic Development

Element V: Housing

Element VI: Community Facilities

Element VII: Land Use

Element VIII: Implementation

            According to South Carolina state law, the planning commission must, among other things, “establish and maintain a planning process which will result in the systematic preparation and continual evaluation and updating of the elements of the comprehensive plan.”[4]  State law mandates that the plan be reevaluated at least every five years and a new plan must be prepared and adopted every ten years.

The City of Beaufort Planning Department is currently in the process of conducting the five-year review and update of the 1998 Comprehensive Land Use Plan completed by Robert and Company. The City of Beaufort-Town of Port Royal Joint Planning Commission will guide the update process. Upon completion and approval of the updated Plan by the Planning Commission, the City Council will hold a public hearing. Adoption of the Plan by City Council is expected in early 2004.  The ten-year plan is scheduled for preparation beginning in 2007. The updated elements will be available for public review and comment as they are completed over the next several months.


[1] South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association, The Local Planning Guide to Preparing a Cultural Resources Element for the Comprehensive Plan, pg.6

[2] South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association, The Local Planning Guide to Preparing a Cultural Resources Element for the Comprehensive Plan, pg.6

[3] Municipal Association of South Carolina, Comprehensive Planning Guide for Local Governments, August 2001 pg. 7.

[4] Municipal Association of South Carolina, Comprehensive Planning Guide for Local Governments, August 2001 pg. 7.


1998 Comprehensive Plan