2.3 Plan Relationships and Structure

2.3.1 Plan Relationships

The Comprehensive Plan is the one plan for Buffalo. It incorporates within its framework all other plans for the city – for neighborhoods, districts, special functions, citywide systems, and otherwise. There has sometimes been confusion in Buffalo about the meaning and status of plans. With adoption of the Buffalo Comprehensive Plan on February 7, 2006 such confusion has ended. It is the preeminent official and authoritative plan for Buffalo to which every other plan will be subordinate and with which every other plan will be consistent. 

The Comprehensive Plan is the official policy of the City of Buffalo concerning land use, urban design, infrastructure investment, environmental management, housing and neighborhood development, Downtown development and all other aspects of the physical development of the city. With it adopted by the Common Council, it has the force of law in matters it covers.

Additional legislation must be adopted to fully implement an adopted Comprehensive Plan, including the ongoing Capital Improvement Program, a revised Zoning Ordinance, a Community Preservation Plan, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and the Queen City Hub: A Regional Action Plan for Downtown Buffalo. These plans – all in development – should be adopted and incorporated by reference into the Comprehensive Plan. 

The Comprehensive Plan builds on and integrates the work of these plans and many others. These include neighborhood plans in development under the auspices of the Good Neighbors Planning Alliance, district plans like the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, system plans like the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Restoration and Management Plan, and special purpose plans by other agencies such as the Peace Bridge Expansion Project and the School Reconstruction Plan of the Joint Schools Construction Board. 

Work to coordinate or align the Buffalo Comprehensive Plan with other emerging plans at the regional level is also central to this strategy. Close collaboration between the Office of Strategic Planning and other agencies has helped achieve this alignment between the Comprehensive Plan and other ongoing efforts. These include the Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth, a new regional economic development strategy being devised by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, and the 2030 Long Range Plan of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council. 

Taken together, this emerging structure of policy and planning is intended to guide and coordinate the investment, management, and regulatory activities of a wide range of public agencies, citizen organizations and private business interests. The Comprehensive Plan occupies a central position in this structure. If implemented conscientiously and in concert with other plan elements, it should deliver the turnaround in the City of Buffalo that all desire. 

2.3.2 Plan Structure

As already noted, the Buffalo Comprehensive Plan pursues a vision of a green, prosperous and revitalized city and a goal of reversing the long-term decline in population and employment. It is driven by fundamental principles of sustainability, smart growth and the dual commitment to “fix the basics” and “build on assets.” 

Based on this guiding framework, the plan also outlines seven key priorities for investment and development. To achieve the plan Buffalo must maintain city infrastructure; deliver quality services; transform the economy; reconstruct Buffalo schools; rebuild the neighborhoods; restore “Olmsted, Ellicott and the waterfront”; and preserve the fabric of the city. 

These priorities are organized around a land use concept for 2030 that identifies three primary investment corridors on Buffalo’s waterfront, on the East Side rail corridor, and along Main Street. These areas would see concentrated investment and major change over the life of the plan while the remaining developed areas would be “like they are now, only better.” This land use concept is further elaborated by an outline for a new zoning ordinance and proposal for urban design guidelines.

Part three outlines the implementation mechanisms for the plan, most notably the City’s Capital Improvements Program and the proposed special Buffalo Development Plan, plus a strategy for intergovernmental relations, an outline of performance measures, and specific immediate next steps.