Greensboro has released a draft of GSO2040, which is a new comprehensive plan to replace Connections 2025, and as the name indicates, it’s a very different kind of document.

GSO2040, if it is approved by the Greensboro City Council, will streamline the way property is rezoned by the City Council and won’t require nearly as many amendments as Connections 2025, which has reportedly been amended more than 200 times.

Amending Connections 2025 has become much easier over time. When it was first passed in 2003, the City Council could only amend it twice a year. Pretty quickly the City Council realized that was far too restrictive, but for years only the City Council could amend the comprehensive plan, not the Zoning Commission.

Even the two motions to amend the plan and then rezone property seemed superfluous. If the City Council or Zoning Commission had decided to rezone property that was not in compliance with the plan, then it had already made the decision that the plan needed to be amended.

GSO2040 recognizes this, and a separate vote won’t have to be taken as long as the City Council or Zoning Commission acknowledges that the rezoning is not in compliance with the plan.

Also the GSO2040 shouldn’t need to be amended as often, because the categories are far more general. For example, Connections 2025 has these residential uses: High Residential, Moderate Density Residential, Multi-Family, Residential Multi-Family, Residential – Single to 5 unit Multi-Family, Mixed Use Residential, Low Residential, Residential Single Family and Duplex, Residential-1 to 2 Family and Office Conversions, Residential-Transitional, and Residential Single Family.

All of those on the new map have been replaced with one category “Residential.” So making a change from low density residential to medium density residential won’t require an amendment to the new Future Land Use Map.

Russ Clegg, Planning Department long range planning manager, said that other uses were also allowed in the residential category as long as the area would remain primarily residential and the uses were considered compatible.

He also noted that in GSO2040 there are two maps, the Future Land Use Map and Future Built Form Map, which are supposed to work together to show where the city expects to see an increase in activity levels.

The plan is 80 pages long.

But Clegg noted, “There are a lot of photos and maps.”