Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions about the Comprehensive Plan process.

1. What is ENGAGEDurham? ENGAGEDurham is a new engagement initiative to ensure all Durham voices are involved in City and County projects. It is a pilot of a coordinated equitable engagement effort between City-County Planning, City Transportation, City Neighborhood Improvement Services, and City General Services Departments, informed by the City’s Equitable Community Engagement Blueprint. This pilot will be a multi-year engagement process to influence outcomes for a variety of projects, specifically our new Comprehensive Plan, new County Transit Plan, the Belt Line trail, the Move Durham study, the Third Fork Creek trail extension, and the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail along with other smaller projects that these departments may undertake with input from departments across the City and County.

We anticipate that the ENGAGEDurham pilot will continue coordinated engagement efforts beyond the scope of these specific projects in the future. We are working to develop new engagement methods that prioritize racial equity and ensuring those who have been historically excluded from decision-making have a voice. As a pilot effort we recognize that we are trying new things and have much to learn along the way. We may not get it right the first time but we will keep listening, learning, and adapting our approach as we go. One opportunity to get involved is through ENGAGEDurham’s Comprehensive Plan process.

2. What is a Comprehensive Plan? A Comprehensive Plan is a broad policy document that outlines a community’s vision and recommendations for decision-making. This consolidated set of policies covers a range of areas that concern communities including: housing; health; education; development; environment; land use; transportation and others.

3. Why does Durham need to update its Comprehensive Plan? Our last Comprehensive Plan was in 2005.  Since then, the city and county have changed enormously. It is time to look at where our community is today and where we want to go in the future. The City and County are undertaking this work using a racial equity lens. As a broad vision document, the Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated to address racial equity in our growth and development outcomes and to begin to address the historical inequities in past land use and transportation decisions. There are important choices to be made about where and how we continue to grow and develop. Our new Comprehensive Plan will work to ensure that everyone benefits from future policy decisions.

4. Who is involved in the Comprehensive Plan process? Everyone! First and foremost, it’s a community-centered process, embracing and including Durham’s diverse population. The Comprehensive Plan contains a robust community engagement effort that intentionally engages all stakeholders – community members, neighborhoods, businesses, colleges, City & County government, non-profits, institutions, and those who have typically not been heard.

5. Who is coordinating the Comprehensive Plan process? The Durham City-County Planning staff with the support from the City of Durham Innovation Team and City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services.

6. How long will the Comprehensive Plan process take? The entire Comprehensive Plan process will take about three years with engagement happening throughout. There will be more intensive engagement opportunities in the first year of the process to ensure that the diverse voices of Durham are heard from the very beginning to set a strong foundation.

7. What can I expect at the community engagement events for the Comprehensive Plan? These events will be informative, inclusive, and fun and allow you to share your ideas and provide your input in a safe and interactive way.

8. Do I have to be an expert in planning to contribute ideas? Absolutely not! By living, working, owning a business, going to school or raising a family in Durham, you know so much about our community. Your intuition is vital to the plan’s success. Whether you live, work, raise a family, run a business, or simply care about the community- your perspective is important.

9. How will the engagement process inform the Comprehensive Plan? When you contribute an idea, you are contributing directly to the Comprehensive Plan. Your ideas will serve as the foundation for the community’s vision statement, contribute to the plan’s goals, inspire specific action, and set the course for implementation. It is critical that community voices and feedback are reflected in the document’s policies. Each comment will be recorded, categorized, and analyzed for consideration by the planning team and then reported back to the public on the project website.

10. Where can I learn more? Sign up for our email newsletters and text updates and we’ll keep you updated on upcoming meetings and major announcements. If you have any questions or ideas, share them here.

11. How is the County Transit Plan related to the Comprehensive Plan process? The County Transit Plan will determine how Durham’s ½ cent special transit sales tax will be spent. The transit tax revenues can be used for new services such as new bus routes, more frequent bus service, and bus stop improvements. As the Comprehensive Plan determines how the City and County grow for the next 30 years, how we get around will be critical to a sustainable future.

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