Frequently Asked Questions
What is Columbia Compass?
Columbia Compass is the comprehensive plan - or "blueprint" - for how Columbia, South Carolina will grow and develop over the next ten years. The Columbia Compass planning process is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in Columbia's future to help shape the vision and recommendations that will guide decision-making in the City for years to come.
What is a comprehensive plan?
A comprehensive plan is a long-term guide that expresses the values and aspirations of a community. It is the broadest public policy document a community can create, and it establishes a long range vision for a community. A comprehensive plan is a tool to prepare for change and acts both a business plan and a guidebook for decision makers. The plan is not a regulatory document, but it serves as a foundation for City budgeting, zoning and land development regulations, capital improvements, development decisions, and more.
Why is it called Columbia Compass: Envision 2036?
The name Columbia Compass helps remind us both of the tools that surveyors used to lay out the original grid of Columbia and how the comprehensive plan will help us navigate our future. While Columbia Compass is a ten year plan as determined by the SC Code of Laws, we believe that our vision for Columbia in 2036 (and on its 250th anniversary) is important, and the goals we set and the changes we plan for over the next ten years will be integral in making that vision a reality.
Why does the City need to update its comprehensive plan?
Regular comprehensive planning represents good stewardship and establishes a foundation for well-supported policies to create the best possible future. As directed by South Carolina law, the City of Columbia updates the comprehensive plan every ten years. The previous 2008 plan needs to be revised to reflect current conditions, priorities, and anticipated changes over the next decade. To learn more about the existing comprehensive plan, The Columbia Plan 2018, and updates made to it over the past decade, please visit the City's website.
Who uses the plan, and what value does my participation have?
While City Council, Planning Commission, City staff will certainly use the plan more than the average person, your opinions, and those of your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers are invaluable to this process. We all need to work together to define and navigate our future - otherwise the vision for Columbia will not be one that is reflective of our community's goals and aspirations. Our goal is to develop a plan that the average citizen finds helpful, informative, and inspiring, and we can't do that without YOU!
How is this different from other recent planning efforts?
Columbia Compass is the ten-year update to the City's comprehensive plan. In recent years, the City has worked to update certain elements of the plan, as well as to work with a number of communities to develop neighborhood and area plans. More information about recent planning efforts can be found on the City's website.
What happens next?
If you were unable to attend one of the four public meetings we held in January 2020, you still have time to get us your comments on the draft plan. Please reach out to us with comments or questions at ColumbiaCompass@columbiasc.gov by February 7th, so that we have ample time to address them prior to moving forward to Planning Commission and City Council with the official adoption process. The process diagram on our home page helps describe the process as a whole.
What is the timeline for the Columbia Compass planning process?
The official adoption of the plan follows a process required by State law, and this process will be scheduled after the public meetings, likely March - May 2020. In order to adopt the plan, first the Planning Commission must make a recommendation regarding the plan's adoption to City Council, which occurs at a Planning Commission meeting. Once this has occurred, City Council will review the draft plan, holding a public hearing, and hold two readings of a vote to adopt the plan before it is official.
What happens after the plan is adopted?
Once adopted, Columbia Compass will serve as an official policy document for City staff and elected officials. We will continue to review and update the plan as programs, policies, and projects are implemented, and as we see other changes throughout the next ten years. The document and this website will also be available to anyone interested in Columbia's vision for the future - for the plan's vision to become reality, it will take all of us!
How do the programs, projects, and policies recommended in the plan become a reality?
While Columbia Compass will serve as a policy document for City staff and elected officials once adopted, we realize that it will take citizens like yourself who care about seeing the plan's vision realized to help implement the recommendations of the plan. The plan document will provide priorities for implementation over the next ten years - it is up to all of us to help move these priorities along through action, engagement, and often through obtaining funding. Please be sure to stay involved by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.
How are the projects identified in the plan funded?
We anticipate the bulk of the Columbia Compass recommendations will help to prioritize City budgeting, however we know we cannot navigate our future alone. By including projects and programs within the comprehensive plan, City staff will be able to pursue funding partnerships with federal, state, and other organizations and agencies. We also anticipate that some of the recommendations of the plan will require community involvement and support in moving forward programs, policies, and projects that can benefit the City as a whole.
Still have questions? Contact Us
Several sets of public meetings are planned throughout the process, and Planning Division staff is also happy to come speak to your neighborhood or organization. If you're interested in having staff speak to your neighborhood or organization about Columbia Compass, or you have other questions about the planning process, please send us an email.