3.3 The Planning Process

The Comprehensive Plan is the one plan for Buffalo – a strategic, broad-scope or “big picture” physical land use plan that will serve as a framework for all current and future planning in Buffalo. The plan is comprehensive because it is concerned with the whole city and articulates a common vision for the future of Buffalo. It is strategic because it focuses on key development priorities and policies, and it identifies and organizes the financial and other resources needed to convert the vision into reality.

The Comprehensive Plan will provide the substantive legal and policy framework for all other planning efforts for Buffalo. As such, it will incorporate area or sector plans that are already being implemented, as well as additional geographically or thematically focused plans now being completed or to be developed in the future.

Plans already in place include the Queen City Hub; a Regional Action plan for Downtown Buffalo and the school reconstruction plan of the Joint Schools Construction Board. A number of smaller scale plans dealing with specific areas or sites are also in development. Those that fall within the geographical ambit of the Queen City Hub plan, such as the Erie Canal Harbor Development and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Master Plan, are covered in that Plan. Others outside the Downtown area, such as the Union Ship Canal redevelopment, are not mentioned specifically in any detail, but their proposed land uses are included in the accompanying land use maps. 

The Comprehensive Plan is intended to be a dynamic framework for continuing planning. Its vision, priorities, and policies are intended to guide decision making by all levels of government and the private sector. But it will be required to grow and adapt to changing circumstances. In particular, implementation of the Comprehensive Plan will require completion of a number of more specific and detailed plans, as well as constant measurement and monitoring. 

These component plans include the following: 

  • A Plan for the Ellicott Radials 

  • The Olmsted Parks and Parkways Restoration and Management Plan 

  • Local Waterfront Revitalization Program 

  • The Strategic Plan for Waterfront Corridor Transportation Improvements (WCI) 

  • The Peace Bridge Expansion Plan 

  • The Community Preservation Plan 

  • Good Neighbors Planning Alliance plans for Planning Communities and Neighborhoods 

  • An Environmental Management System and Environmental Plan

Linking the Comprehensive Plan to the City Capital Improvement Program will also facilitate implementation of plans developed and managed by City departments and agencies, such as the Street Reconstruction Plans of the Public Works Department, the Urban Reforestation Plan of the Forestry Division, and the Parks Restoration Plans of the Parks Department.

The Comprehensive Plan will also provide a vehicle to coordinate planning for the City with planning at the County and regional scale. It connects itself with regional planning efforts that are already in place, such as the 2030 Long Range Plan by the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council, and others in preparation. These include: 

  • The Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth;

  • The Erie Niagara Regional Partnership economic development strategy;

  • The Buffalo Niagara Cultural Tourism Initiative; and,

  • The Niagara River Remedial Action Plan (RAP)

The Comprehensive Plan should be approved by the Planning Board and Common Council and formally adopted as the official plan of the City. The City’s Zoning Ordinance should also be reviewed to determine how best to implement land use patterns defined in the Plan. A generic Environmental Impact Statement for the plan should be prepared.

The Office of Strategic Planning and City Departments and agencies, the Planning Board and Common Council should each review the plan every five years to correspond with the charter required five-year strategic capital allocation plan and the regular decennial census. Most important of all, the Plan should be regarded as a “living” document, providing continuity of vision for the process of city development, but allowing flexibility to incorporate supplementary or complementary plans as they are developed.