Comprehensive plans are meant to consider the broad range of forces that impact a community and plan for the strategic use of resources to respond to these forces. Until Comprehensive Plan 2025 was adopted the City largely relied on area-specific master plans to guide change, but lacked a city-wide comprehensive plan that dealt with interrelated policy and budget issues. The plan contains a vision for the future—pertaining to physical assets, government services, local business and institutions, and cultural resources—and identifies policies, actions, regulations and investments that the City will pursue to achieve this vision.
Putting these goals and action items in writing will also let the public know what the City intends to accomplish in coming years, providing predictability to developers and property owners, area institutions and employers, and other government agencies. These goals and policies are interdisciplinary and their implementation will require the coordination of all City departments. In doing so, the Comprehensive Plan should guide the preparation of future operating budgets and Capital Improvement Programs, in addition to departmental operations, City regulations, and other regional plans and funding decisions.
Plan Update: Comprehensive Plan 2040
Comprehensive Plan 2040 is an update to Comprehensive Plan 2025, which was adopted by Syracuse Common Council in 2005. While Comprehensive Plan 2025 called for an update every five years, the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability was created in 2010, at which time it began developing additional components and updating the Plan with a level of detail adequate to guide implementation.
With the addition of the component plans described below, much of the content of Comprehensive Plan 2025 became redundant and has been removed. Since that plan was adopted in 2005, TNT areas had developed five-year plans which helped to identify many common goals at the neighborhood level; and the 2010 U.S. Census was released, indicating that the City’s population has begun to stabilize, while some neighborhoods have grown and others have continued to shrink over the past decade. All of this new information was incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan 2040.
The plan was approved by the Planning Commission on January 7, 2013 and is currently before the Common Council for their adoption.
Access the Comprehensive Plan and each of its components by clicking on the emblems below. The center emblem links to the main body of the plan.
The Comprehensive Plan itself addresses a broad variety of subject areas related to physical and economic development, quality of life in Syracuse neighborhoods, and the future of the City. Those subject areas that include detailed policy, extensive actions agendas, and that have a long-term horizon are included as components or chapters of the Comprehensive Plan. As components of the Comprehensive Plan they are also formally adopted by the Planning Commission and Common Council. Additionally, the Comprehensive Plan refers to actions under the City’s direct control or under its influence; other planning documents should support the vision in the Comprehensive Plan, but are not formally adopted as components if:
The plan has a relatively short-term horizon,
The plan guides the actions of a neighborhood association or grassroots organization, or if
It is intended to guide regional planning efforts.
The diagram above illustrates the relationship between planning documents that either are part of, or that are related to, the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan provides the broad vision for Syracuse’s future and action items related to all City departments and operations. The components on the right include long-range goals and detailed action agendas and are formally adopted as part of the Plan. The two below—Pedestrian Infrastructure and Parks—will be formal components prepared at a future date.
The plans on the left should complement the Comprehensive Plan.
Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today (TNT) Plans should guide the coordinated action of neighborhood groups toward neighborhood-level objectives and include more detailed vision for their neighborhoods’ development that supplements the vision for Syracuse’s future contained in the Comprehensive Plan.
The City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is prepared annually and should be guided by the objectives outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
Neighborhood & Business Development periodically prepares an operating plan, outlining near-term policy and regulatory objectives, policies to guide allocation of CDBG, HOME, and other funding, and economic development strategies. This plan responds to immediate challenges and provides transparency to ongoing initiatives.
Transportation planning is carried out both regionally and locally. Local policy related to transportation infrastructure is implemented through the CIP. Development regulations influence transportation patterns by controlling private access to the right-of-way, requiring safe and accessible sidewalks, setting standards for on-site parking, and encouraging density within mixed-use nodes served by transit. Regionally, the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) developed by the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) outlines regional goals for transportation and provides a benchmark for evaluating which local projects are eligible for federal and state assistance. Specific funding for capital projects is outlined regionally by the SMTC’s Transportation Improvement Program.
Each component is described below.
Land Use & Development — The Land Use & Development component of the Comprehensive Plan will guide major revisions to the City’s Zoning Ordinance. A large undertaking such as this is only pursued as needed, when development regulations are no longer in line with the community’s desired vision.
Sustainability — The Sustainability component of the Comprehensive Plan assesses the needs and the current resources of the city and outlines goals and initiatives to meet these needs and protect the city’s future environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The Sustainability Plan serves as a guide for the city operations as well as setting a common vision for the community at large.
Public Art — Public art is a vital feature of the City’s cultural and physical environment and contributes to a strong sense of place and high quality of life in Syracuse. The Public Art component of the Comprehensive Plan will describe the guiding vision, objectives, and actions necessary to encourage, enhance, and support the growing public art program in the City.
Historic Preservation — The Historic Preservation component of the Comprehensive Plan outlines planning objectives for identification and designation of landmarks and historic districts, survey and documentation of the City’s historic resources, public education and outreach, economic incentives for local landmark designation, and revisions to the local preservation ordinance. This plan is developed with collaboration from City staff, the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board, local preservation advocates, and the State Historic Preservation Office.
Transportation — Transportation goals included within the Comprehensive Plan cover regulations, policies, and funding priorities over which the City has control or influence. In addition, as the City embraces a Complete Streets policy and moves to expand the safety and availability bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, these two subject areas warrant detailed plans (see below). Regional transportation planning is described above.
Bicycle Infrastructure — The Bicycle Infrastructure component is a blueprint for the future growth of Syracuse’s bicycle network. This component includes a rigorous data-driven analysis to determine the best routes for future bicycle infrastructure, identifies likely users, and proposes possible designs to act as a starting point for community discussions as the bicycle network expands.
Pedestrian Infrastructure — The Pedestrian Infrastructure component, coming in 2013, will include detailed study of existing conditions, make recommendations for revising the Sidewalk Ordinance, define design standards based on zoning district and pedestrian traffic levels, guide capital investments, and clearly define the responsibilities of property owners and developers.
Parks Recovery Action Plan — The City’s network of parks and open space are a remarkable asset within our urban environment. They provide recreational and public health benefits, provide habitat to a diverse ecosystem, and function as green infrastructure, capturing storm water runoff. This component of the Comprehensive Plan will be developed in 2013-14 and will address long-term planning for maintenance and capital improvement of Syracuse’s parks.