About Planning

Many factors must be taken into consideration in order to create the kind of town that prospers and is prepared to meet changing needs. Buildings, preserved land, public spaces and parks, roads and bridges, and other structures should reflect the essential character of a community and the people who reside in it. Throughout the world, in tiny villages and in great cities, millions of private and public decisions have been made that express the priorities of each culture and determine the quality and value of today’s built landscape for better or worse.

Population and land use is increasing at profound rates worldwide. It is inevitable that we will continue to experience this growth in Hanover until “buildout” conditions are reached. Without proper planning we will not be able to establish and sustain a livable Town that is socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally conscious. The community must play a part in envisioning the future and accepting responsibility for its collective future. Layer upon layer of history links us to the people who came before us. Reminders of our past have the power to inspire us to reach further than we would otherwise. In the times of ancient Athens civic leaders had to swear an oath to "pass on to the next generation a city that is better than the one received."

Many of our buildings today compete with structures that are already in place, overwhelming, dominating and changing the very nature of the neighborhood. This is not always a positive factor. Great communities respect and understand their environment and are sensitive to the surrounding culture and its historical roots. Well-designed and sited structures enhance the whole community. The quality and visual appeal of individual projects–whether residences, businesses or public buildings - effect current and future private property values as well as the quality of people’s lives.

A dynamic Town is not created in a haphazard manner, but rather through thoughtful and insightful planning. Simply building roads, shops, schools, parks, and houses, without careful research on the area, can result in fragmentation. Careful thought to every detail in planning and design is essential if a cohesive unity is to emerge that reflects the needs of the whole community. Forward-thinking is essential for the Town to develop and improve with its own unique identity.

The entire community must be involved in the process and "own" the decisions that are made if we are to succeed. Individuals must work together for the future good of the whole and personal agendas must be put aside.

Responsible planning has always been vital to the sustainability of safe, healthy, and secure urban environments. Planning is a systematic, creative way to influence and respond to a wide variety of changes occurring in a neighborhood, in a city, in an entire region, or around the world. Planners assist communities to formulate plans and policies to meet their social, economic, environmental, and cultural needs in the face of societal forces. Planners do so by identifying problems and opportunities, evaluating alternative solutions or plans, and communicating their findings in ways that allow citizens and public officials to make knowledgeable choices about the future.

What makes human beings unique? The fact that we can plan. Our greatest achievements--from the pyramids of Egypt to modern skyscrapers--have all resulted from our ability to envision the future and muster the resources needed to achieve it. Professional planners have studied the way our lives are influenced by physical, economic, and social forces. It's their job to help the rest of us shape the kinds of communities we want. Part of the job is done through zoning, the division of land into different types of uses to avoid nuisances and promote healthy and orderly development. Zoning is a tool, but it's not planning.

Planning involves many tools, including economic and demographic analysis, natural and cultural resource evaluation, goal-setting, and strategic planning. Besides being the only profession specially trained to look at how these elements fit together, planners bring something more. They can offer options - so that communities and their citizens can achieve their vision of the future. Planners are the key to implementing the wishes, hopes, and aspirations of citizens all across the spectrum.

Planners provide the framework for communities to address change. They use analytical methods like statistical and geographic information to provide a factual basis for good decisions about future plans. They help convene different interest groups to work toward consensus about what should be done. Plans provide a blueprint for other professions to work with, such as transportation engineers, architects, developers, housing officials and so on. Think of the Town’s Master Plan as a statement about how a community can utilize all its resources, human and physical, to achieve what it collectively wants to be in the future.