All too often, urban planners spend months, even years, doing all of the work necessary to complete a comprehensive plan, only to see that plan sit on the shelf after it is completed. The problem is that we often direct the vast majority of our energy towards the research, writing, and community outreach portions of the planning process, while spending too little time focusing on perhaps the most vital issue that planners face. Once the plan is completed, how will it be implemented? While there are a wide range of approaches that an urban planner can take to implement their plan, I want to spend some time discussing an approach that I recently helped create in Kane County, IL – the Kane County Planning Cooperative.
The Kane County Planning Cooperative is a group that was formed to act as the central implementing body of the Kane County comprehensive plan, the Kane County 2040 Plan. As a county planning document, the Kane County 2040 Plan creates a vision for both the incorporated (governed by municipalities) and unincorporated (governed by the Kane County Board) areas of the County. As a result, collaboration with other government entities is imperative to the successful implementation of the Kane County 2040 Plan.
The Kane County Planning Cooperative is comprised of decision makers and key staff from:
- Park Districts;
- School districts;
- Economic Development Departments and;
- Forest Preserve Districts.
The Cooperative is staffed by members of the three Kane County Departments that were integral in creating the Kane County 2040 Plan – the Health, Transportation, and Development Departments. This staffing composition reinforces the key message of the Kane County 2040 plan – the importance of incorporating health and transportation into planning decisions. The Kane County Regional Planning Commission serves as the overseeing body of the Cooperative, making the final decisions related to Cooperative funded events and grant opportunities.
“The main mission of the Cooperative will be to encourage education and information sharing related to planning and to assist with local planning decisions.” The Cooperative was set up to help local decision making bodies fill gaps in local planning resources and provide them education and information on critical issues. The Cooperative is designed to be flexible so that the issues of any community in Kane County can be met.
Some examples of the gaps and issues that the Cooperative can deal/has dealt with are:
- Providing educational forums on countywide hot topics such as Stalled Developments;
- Helping municipalities with no planning staff complete their comprehensive plans;
- Working on inter-jurisdictional policies and projects and;
- Increasing the chances of funding by creating multi-jurisdictional grant applications to help complete projects that are critical to the implementation of the Kane County 2040 Plan.
Do you think a similar organization would be beneficial in your community? Be sure to share below.
Credits: Photo by the Kane County Development Department. Data linked to sources.