What is a Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range planning document that is designed to guide the future growth and development of a locality over the next twenty or more years. It is the local government’s guide to community, physical, and economic development.
It is important to note that the Comprehensive Plan is not a legal regulatory document like the Zoning or Subdivision Ordinances. Instead, it is a vision for what the citizens and leadership of Martinsburg want the City to be in the future. This vision is packaged together with goals and programs to help bring the community’s vision to reality. The plan will serve as a guide for City staff, appointed and elected leaders, property owners and other stakeholders as they make many small land use, fiscal, and other decisions over the coming years. The primary purpose of this plan is to protect and improve the quality of life of City residents by providing for the public health, safety, convenience, and welfare of Martinsburg.
Legal Basis and Use of the Plan
Chapter 8A of the West Virginia Code establishes the scope and requirements of community comprehensive plans. Each comprehensive plan and subsequent update must follow the requirements found in state code.
As stated in W. Va. Code §8A-1-1(a)(5) “a comprehensive plan is a guide to a community’s goals and objectives and a way to meet those goals and objectives.” According to the West Virginia Code the comprehensive plan should also “be the basis for land development and use, and be reviewed and updated on a regular basis [W. Va. Code §8A-1-1(b)(3)], which the Code later defines as every 10 years [W. Va. Code §8A-3-11(a)].
A comprehensive plan is required if a governing body wants to enact a zoning ordinance, enact a subdivision and land development ordinance, require plans and plats for land development, or issue improvement location permits for construction.