What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A Comprehensive Plan (also called a master plan) is a document that provides direction in making land use, development, and other long-range planning decisions in the town. The comprehensive planning process encourages local governments to think strategically about all aspects of their community and the way these elements interact. With input from the community, it helps local decision-makers take a look at where the community has been, how it got to this point, where it wants to go, and how it can get there.

Is this Windham’s first Comprehensive Plan?

No. Windham adopted its first comprehensive plan in 2002. The goals and objectives outlined in that plan were developed based on what the town hoped to achieve over a 10 to 20 year time frame, and the plan hasn’t been updated since then.

Why is updating the plan important?

The Comprehensive Plan contains information relating to economic development, land use, natural resources, infrastructure, housing, historic preservation and other issues of local importance. It includes goals and objectives, as well as implementation strategies to achieve the collective vision of the town’s future, and serves as a guide for development decisions over the next ten to twenty years.

Will the public be involved?

Yes! The town has formed a Comprehensive Plan Committee to lead the effort and will seek feedback from citizens regarding their ideas and visions for the future. This will be accomplished through workshops, surveys, focus groups and other methods. State law also requires that the Town Board hold a formal public hearing prior the plan’s adoption.

How is the plan organized?

A comprehensive plan is a working document that is typically organized by topic. For each topic, there is a brief discussion of existing conditions, and an analysis of specific issues related to that topic. A list of goals and objectives designed to address the issues identified is then formulated. Windham’s current comprehensive plan includes the following topics:

  • Natural Resources
  • Historic & Cultural Resources
  • Land Use
  • Housing
  • Economic Development
  • Infrastructure
  • Transportation
  • Community Facilities

The final chapter of the plan discusses implementation — what specific actions should be undertaken by whom and in what timeframe to address each of the issues identified.

Are planning and zoning the same thing?

No. Planning is a process focused on the future which establishes community goals, objectives and policies regarding future development. Zoning is a tool that is commonly used by communities to implement the policies set forth in the comprehensive plan. It involves passing a local law that establishes different districts or “zones” with specific regulations that govern the type and intensity of future development. Windham does not currently have zoning, and zoning is just one of many tools that could be used to implement the plan.

For more information, contact Helen Budrock at