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Framework for the Comprehensive Plan

The policy framework for the Comprehensive Plan is depicted in Figure 2-3. Each of the framework components is further explained in the sections below.

Figure 2-3


The Guiding Principles name the City’s broadest aspirations for the future and are an expression of Lancaster’s values. Intended to guide the community in the long-term, these principles should not substantially change over time, but rather be consistent throughout this Plan’s 20-year horizon. Together the three Guiding Principles represent Lancaster’s vision for the betterment of its economy, environment, and quality of life for all residents. The Guiding Principles are further described below. 

Social Equity and Inclusion

Guide investment so that the responsibilities and benefits of growth are shared across all areas of the City. Make community programs, services, and facilities accessible to all and focus specific efforts where support is most needed. Connect people across divides such as background, age, geography, race, ethnicity, and income level.

Sustainable and Healthy Environment

Set rules, goals, policies, and incentives that protect and improve environmental quality, while elevating the health and well-being of community members. Restore and enhance the air, water, and open space resources of the City. Ensure that local decision-making and investment follows sustainability best practices and enhances climate resiliency.

Access to Economic Opportunity

Invest in and expand the private, public, and non-profit, assets that make Lancaster City a unique and attractive place for employers and those seeking jobs and careers. Ensure that all residents can share in economic success and earn a good living.

Planning Systems, Elements, and Community Development Objectives 

The Planning Systems are a set of overarching themes that encompass the city’s complex development landscape. The identification of the Planning Systems stemmed directly from conversations with the public and Technical Advisory Committees during the Comprehensive Plan engagement process. The Planning Systems reflect the issues of greatest relevance and importance to the community.

Under each of the five Planning Systems are subtopics, called “Elements.” The Elements represent integral parts of each system. 

Each Element in the Plan is further described by a Community Development Objective. Altogether, this body of Community Development Objectives represents the community’s key priorities and fulfills the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code requirement to establish a core list of objectives within the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Systems, Elements, and Community Development Objectives stated here: 

PLANNING SYSTEM 1 – Strengthening Neighborhoods and Housing

Element 1 – Housing Choice

Objective: Facilitate a diversity of housing types, serving a range of household compositions and income levels.

Element 2 – Historic Places

Objective: Preserve buildings and sites that contribute to the physical legacy and cultural heritage of the city’s diverse populations, while allowing flexibility for adaptive reuse.

Element 3 – Investment and Revitalization

Objective: Accommodate commercial uses and job growth and focus redevelopment resources on designated commercial hubs and corridors.

Element 4 – Neighborhood Character and Identity

Objective: Protect and enrich the distinctive physical form of the city to improve the experience of Lancaster as a special and livable place. 

PLANNING SYSTEM 2 – Expanding Economic Opportunity

Element 1 – Economic Mobility

Objective: Support city residents in preparing for and securing good jobs that raise their standard of living.

Element 2 – Economic Growth

Objective: Advance growth and investment that will bolster the tax base and retain and attract employers that provide job opportunities for city residents.

Element 3 – Local Economy and Entrepreneurs

Objective: Boost the diversity and prosperity of small businesses and neighborhood commercial centers throughout the city.

PLANNING SYSTEM 3 – Connecting People and Places

Element 1 – Mobility and Access

Objective: Expand mobility options and integrate land uses (such as jobs and housing) to ensure people can access employment, education, and other destinations.

Element 2 – System Safety and Efficiency

Objective: Provide safe city streets and efficient transportation operations for all users, especially the most vulnerable.

Element 3 – Vibrant Public Spaces and Streets

Objective: Design and maintain a public realm that is walkable, comfortable, beautiful, and interesting—and which encourages social activity and interaction. 

PLANNING SYSTEM 4 – Growing Greener

Element 1 – Natural Resources

Objective: Conserve and restore natural resources that are essential to the sound functioning of local ecosystems.

Element 2 – Parks, Recreation, and Open Space

Objective: Offer high-quality parks that are green, welcoming, and near all residents, and serve as places of respite, recreation, and social gathering.

Element 3 – Built Environment

Objective: Promote a sustainable built environment through best practices in the construction and maintenance of buildings, landscape, and infrastructure.

Element 4 – Climate Change

Objective: Mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, with an emphasis on renewable energy and resilience to environmental shocks and stresses.

PLANNING SYSTEM 5 – Building Community and Capacity

Element 1 – Environmental Health

Objective: Protect city residents from environmental hazards and improve the land, air, and water that underpins good health.

Element 2 – Community Well-Being

Objective: Nurture the well-being of city residents through the support of targeted community facilities and social services.

Element 3 – Quality Public Services

Objective: Provide excellent municipal services, including police, fire / emergency response, and recreation to sustain and enhance quality of life in the city.

Element 4 – Socialization and Engagement

Objective: Support community members and organizations in meaningful engagement with neighbors and effective participation in local government.

Element 5 – Arts and Culture

Objective: Foster arts and culture uses that serve our local artists, programs, and institutions and celebrate our varied cultures and histories.


Specific policy and action recommendations have been developed under each Element. The policies provide broader direction for day-to-day decisions, while the actions provide more specific tasks or projects for implementing the policies. 

Some of the actions reference programs, procedures, and initiatives that have already started, while others reference new commitments of resources. Although the City is already implementing some of the policies and actions, including them in the Plan helps to ensure their continuation and connects them to Lancaster’s other planning efforts. 

Policies and actions may be designated as short-term, mid-term, or long-term, with completion timeframes ranging from immediate to 10 years. More detail can be found on this subject in Chapter 6: Implementation.