Some city councilmembers say that the vote on the budget is the most important vote of the year, but maybe not this year.

On the agenda for the Tuesday, June 15 meeting, along with the budget and 53 other items, is a public hearing on the GSO 2040 Comprehensive Plan. After the public hearing the City Council is expected to pass the new comp plan.

Connections 2025 Comprehensive Plan, which was Greensboro’s first, was passed in 2003 and it has been confusing, confounding and aggravating people ever since. A plan to direct the future growth of the city, which is only passed every 17 years or so, is according to some more important than the yearly budget.

At two rezoning hearings this year, opponents argued that the rezoning request could not be passed because the requested zoning did not comply with the Connections 2025 Comprehensive Plan. It was explained to both groups that the City Council amends the comprehensive plan “all the time” and the process was that first the City Council would amend the comp plan and then approve the rezoning request.

That will change with the passage of GSO 2040, which doesn’t require a separate vote to amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM), which replaces the Generalized Future Land Use Map (GFLUM) under the current Connections 2025 Comprehensive Plan. It also is a whole lot easier to pronounce FLUM than GFLUM, which is considerable advantage for those who are required to talk about it.

Today this cleans up a messy legislative process, one vote instead of two, but it also indicates a completely different view of what GSO 2040 is supposed to be than the city staff had in 2003.

After it passed the comp plan in 2003, the City Council found that it could only amend the GFLUM twice a year, which meant that it could only rezone property that didn’t comply with the GFLUM twice a year.

The City Council also discovered that the cumbersome method of amending the GFLUM as passed meant that either the Planning Board or the Zoning Commission could veto a rezoning by the City Council.

But there are still some portions of the GSO 2040 that could result in unintended consequences. One of the six “Big Ideas” or goals is to make Greensboro a “Car Optional” city. The comp plan notes to accomplish this goal, denser residential development in existing neighborhoods is needed. Currently there is often neighborhood opposition to even minor increases in density such as rezoning from Residential Single Family–3 (R-3), which is three units per acre, to Residential Single Family–5 (R-5), which is five units per acre.

People generally seem in favor of higher density development in theory but not in their own neighborhood, and making Greensboro into a car optional city will require many more and more extensive changes in policy than simply allowing denser development in existing neighborhoods.

The full GSO 2040 Comprehensive Plan can be found here:

Comments on the comp plan will be accepted by email for 24 hours after the public hearing at