Lebanon Redefined is comprehensive in addressing many different community elements including land use and development character; transportation and utilities; housing and neighborhoods; and economic development.

While the plan goals and objectives have been organized under these and other categories, they are all interconnected and implementation relies on treating each component as a part of a whole.  Great care was taken to ensure the Plan provides policies, programs, and recommendations within the context of that basic reality. With this framework in mind, this section is meant to help community leaders adopt and implement the comprehensive plan.

The vision, goals, and recommendations included in the plan have been vetted by the project steering committee and confirmed by residents, but the plan must be treated as a living document.  With the plan being entirely website-based, it will be easier for the City to use it as a living plan and make amendments as needed.  This means that the plan should continue to evolve over time as physical, economic, and market conditions change, and as resources become available.

The key implementation challenge often comes in translating a plan’s vision, goals, and recommendations into the day-to-day operations and actions of City government. As the City determines how to implement the plan’s recommendations, it is important to continuously consider the integrity of the planning process, Lebanon’s values, its resources, and why the policy, recommendation, or project is important to the City’s future.  A plan is a community’s desired future. It is the collective will and roadmap for how to achieve that future. It is critical to find ways to give the plan life and maintain its integrity.

Extensive discussion was undertaken to ensure the comprehensive plan reflects the desired land use pattern for the community, and identifies improvements needed for undeveloped and targeted redevelopment areas over the next 20 years.  This 20-year period allows adequate time to implement new development ordinances, adjust existing land use patterns where needed, and improve the multi-modal transportation network.  It also allows the City adequate time to formulate capital improvement strategies and funding sources to implement the recommendations and achieve ultimate success of this planning effort. The planning department will track progress in meeting the plan goals and objectives, when an update should be initiated, what changes should be incorporated, and how those changes will be incorporated.  Any amendments should include an evaluation of the vision, goals, objectives, and key initiatives.

Once the planning process is over, many communities struggle with what to do first.  This section provides guidance on what needs to be completed and in what order.  This section is broken down into ten subsections including:

  • Early Action Initiatives
  • Adoption
  • Interpretation
  • Implementation Committee & Work Plan
  • Annual Review & Report
  • Monitoring & Updating the Plan
  • Unified Development Ordinance Update
  • Fiscal Considerations
  • Capital Improvement Program
  • Private Land Use Decisions
  • Coordination and Partnerships


Early Action Initiatives

Early action initiatives are the immediate next steps the City needs to take to implement the Comprehensive Plan.  These early actions include:

  1. Adoption of the Comprehensive Plan by the City Council [hyperlink to adoption section below]
  2. Creation of a Joint Implementation Committee [hyperlink to Implementation Committee & Work Plan section below]
  3. Update the Unified Development Ordinance [hyperlink to that UDO section below]
  4. Update forms, applications, and develop an online submittal process
  5. Develop a planning focused annual review report [hyperlink to Annual Review Report section below]
  6. Develop a five-year capital improvement plan [hyperlink to CIP section below]



The first step in implementation is to adopt the comprehensive plan. The process begins with the Plan Commission.  They hold a public hearing to review the comprehensive plan and recommend approval to the City Council.  The Council must prepare a resolution to adopt the comprehensive plan to ensure that it promotes the public health, safety, morals, convenience, order, or the general welfare and for the sake of efficiency and economy in the process of development.  Typically, the City Council allow additional public comment as part of the resolution adoption process.  Using a resolution, the City Council will formally adopt the Comprehensive Plan by a simple majority vote.  The procedures for adopting and amending a plan are described in Indiana Code, 36-7-4-500 Series.



The Comprehensive Plan does not contain the actual decisions that the Plan Commission or City Council should make regarding development and redevelopment; however, it does provide guidance of the community’s collective vision for future growth and change in the City, and should be interpreted as such.  City staff, Plan Commission, and City Council members should interpret the goals and objectives as a long-term and deliberately broad vision.  The commission and council should keep in mind that this plan reflects the community’s values, and the spirit of this plan should be adhered to in order to ensure the community input is respected.  The strategic action steps, on the other hand, are intended to direct the day-to-day decisions concerning more specific and task-oriented activities.  Members of the City Council should interpret the strategic actions steps by saying, “given our long-term goals and changing community conditions, these are the projects and programs that we want to complete in the short-term and long-term, and this is how we plan to accomplish them.”  Interpreting the plan in this way will enable the members of both the commission and council to justify their approval, or denial, of planning and zoning petitions.

When a zoning change, subdivision, or site plan review request is filed, City planning staff as well as other city departments should review and evaluate the application against the Comprehensive Plan and the City’s ordinances to provide a staff report with a formal recommendation to the Plan Commission regarding its findings.  The staff report should include an evaluation of the development and the degree to which the proposed project conforms to the plan’s vision, goals, objectives and key initiatives.

Zoning protects the rights of individual property owners while promoting the general welfare of the community.  The purpose of zoning is to locate specific land uses where they are most appropriate.  In determining the most appropriate zoning designation, the City must consider such things as public utilities, road access, and the existing or established development pattern of the area in which development is proposed. When an application for a rezone or planned unit development (PUD) is submitted, the Plan Commission and City Council should consider the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan in deciding whether to approve the rezone or PUD.  In general, the Plan Commission and City Council should consider that a rezone/PUD is only justifiable under the following circumstances:

  • When the requested rezoning is consistent with the long-range land use plan included in the Comprehensive Plan.
  • When there was an error or oversight in the original zoning of the property.
  • When changes have occurred to conditions in the vicinity of the property which prevent the reasonable use of the property as currently zoned.
  • When the requested rezoning benefits the community at large.

Rezones should not be granted because of a single hardship expressed by a property owner or group of property owners.  The community’s collective vision for the future is not negotiable. Should the Plan Commission recommend approval to the City Council for numerous rezones that are substantially inconsistent with the future land use map associated with the Comprehensive Plan, the plan should be updated.  This is an indication that the area’s conditions, issues and/or priorities have changed.


Implementation Committee & Work Plan

For the plan to be a living document, it must be used to define the City’s work plan and agenda for the physical, fiscal and policy implementation mechanisms.  Therefore, the Plan Commission and City Council should jointly create an Implementation Committee to help guide the City staff in preparing and prioritizing elements of the comprehensive plan. The Implementation Committee should develop an annual work plan by prioritizing the recommendations and actions steps for the fiscal year and develop a strategy for moving these items forward.  This information should be shared and approved by the City Council, since they control the budget for the City.  It will be important that this is completed prior to City budgeting time in order to ensure adequate funding is in place for those policies or programs that require financial resources.  It is best to try to develop a work plan in two-year increments so that the Plan Commission and City Council and supporting department staff can allocate budgetary resources to help implement the appropriate recommendations prioritized for the upcoming year.


Annual Review & Report

Annually, the staff should perform an audit of the planning department and incorporate benchmarks of the comprehensive plan.  Generally, the planning department keeps track of the number and type of cases that are before the Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.  They also know how many building permits are approved each year by building type.  These should be summarized in an annual report and provided to the Plan Commission and City Council at the beginning of the following year.  This gives these bodies the ability to see trends emerge regarding growth and development patterns of the City as well as the impact government policies are having. Additionally, given the plan is in the format of a website, the City could eventually incorporate the annual review into the implementation or benchmark section of the plan.


Monitoring & Updating the Plan

Planning does not have a defined beginning and end.  It is an on-going process that responds to new information and circumstances and incorporates changing conditions into decisions.  Circumstances that may change include physical conditions of buildings and/or infrastructure, the economic climate, the natural environment, and social and community goals.

Once the plan is adopted it will need to be revised from time to time to ensure that it stays consistent and relevant to current conditions.   This plan should be updated approximately every five years, unless otherwise directed by the Plan Commission or City Council.  This update does not need to be a complete overhaul or rewrite of the plan. The City’s prime consideration in deciding when an update is needed should include what changes have occurred since the Plan was last updated.  These changes may be in such areas as the economy, the environment, changes in administration, traffic congestion, jurisdictional priorities, projected growth or something else significant.  The plan update should include a thorough review and evaluation of the vision, goals, objectives, and key initiatives.  Within that review, each development policy should be reviewed for achievement, in process or lack of relevancy.  Policies that have been achieved or are not relevant should be changed or removed from the plan.  New policies should be developed, if necessary, to accommodate any changes in conditions and ensure the plan is still effective.  A plan update should also include a thorough review of the validity of all the information contained within the plan and should include extensive opportunities for involvement by the public, boards and commissions, elected and appointed officials, staff and other affected interests. The plan update process is further described below.

A disciplined schedule for plan review is helpful in plan implementation.  Noting areas of the plan’s success helps to build support for future planning activities. The identification of less successful components of the plan may suggest a need for refinement and/or amendment.  The Implementation Committee should therefore conduct a thorough annual review of the plan, asking whether the conditions on which the plan was predicated still hold true.  An annual “report card” should be prepared by the City staff which reviews and documents the activities of the Redevelopment Commission, Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and City Council that are relevant to the Comprehensive Plan.

Prior to preparing the annual City operating budget, an assessment should be completed that documents the impacts of the plan implementation activities.  This assessment should consist of the following:

  • Major differences between projected economic and demographic growth rates and actual growth.
  • Necessary adjustments to the implementation tools and techniques, sometimes brought on by changes in state legislation.
  • Deviations by the Redevelopment Commission or Plan Commission from the plan, and why those deviations were made.
  • Requests for amendments to the plan, in order to determine if there is a pattern of requested changes emerging.
  • Changes in the local/regional political structure that may affect the implementation of the plan.
  • Identifying the plan recommended programs and projects that have been completed.
  • For each implementing program/project, develop criteria that can be used to measure the effectiveness of the program, apply those criteria, and write a report summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
  • Identify new programs, if any, that should be implemented.
  • A separate process exists for amendments to the Plan. The City should perform amendments on a yearly or periodic basis as needed.  This plan amendment should be at the recommendation of the Implementation Committee.  Plan amendments may include changes to the land use plan map, other maps, or may be as small as correcting text.


Unified Development Ordinance Update

The Comprehensive Plan is a statement of policy and is not a regulatory document.  The most common regulatory means for implementing the plan is the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  The UDO is a combination of the zoning ordinance and the subdivision control ordinance into one document.    The UDO controls the use, size, density, and character of development within a district using various standards.  Zoning classifications are broken into permitted land uses within each district as well as conditional and special exception land uses.  In addition to restricting uses, zoning ordinances also dictate the bulk of development, typically through height requirements, floor-area ratios, and/or maximum land coverage, and building placement, typically using lot setbacks. The UDO also contains standards for the division of land and the development of many types of infrastructure within subdivisions.  Standards include the splitting and design of lots, design of streets, sidewalks and multi-use paths, and other physical improvements to the land.  These subdivision standards protect landowners from inadequate services and ensure taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of replacing improperly installed or inadequate infrastructure.

The UDO is managed through Lebanon’s Planning Department in conjunction with the Plan Commission.  After the Plan is adopted, the City should consider revising the UDO to be consistent with the recommendations of this plan.  Some potential amendments to consider include:

  • Make the UDO more user-friendly by creating a digital, hyperlinked version of the Ordinance that allows easier navigation.
  • Incorporate additional graphics to convey concepts and use tables to display information wherever possible.
  • Remove information that can be put in applications.
  • In the downtown, look at more character standards such as orientation to the street, setback, building height, parking, and first floor transparency.
  • Remove redundancy throughout the ordinance and use cross references.
  • Update parking standards, look at using maximums instead of minimums, reduce the required number of parking spaces, update downtown parking standards to further reduce the amount of parking downtown or omit parking standards entirely in favor of regulating only the design and location of parking; incorporate parking flexibility including shared parking.
  • Use more common language, removing a lot of the legalese in the UDO.
  • Update sign standards so they are consistent with the updated court ruling regarding Reed V. Gilbert.
  • Expand the definitions section and move the Defined Words and the Meanings of Words into the Definitions Section, which should be at the end of the UDO.
  • Create a mixed-use district beyond just the Central Business (CB) District.
  • Examine whether to combine some of the Single Family (SF) Districts and allow more types of residential dwellings in the Single Family (SF) Districts.
  • Examine the planned business commercial, business office, and business industrial districts and determine if any of these districts can be combined.
  • Create an article where all uses are listed, and under each use list any standards applicable to those uses. This is an excellent way to manage issues for specific uses.
  • Move elements of the PUD section into the Administrative and Procedures Article.
  • Update telecommunications provisions to be consistent with small cell structures Indiana State Law.
  • Update the use matrix and align with NAICS codes for staff to better interpret uses that might not be in the use matrix in the future.
  • Put sign regulations in a table to quickly understand and access information instead of reading through all the text.
  • Develop lighting standards.
  • Re-evaluate if conservation subdivisions are a viable option in Lebanon.
  • Update any cross references or design standards for street, pedestrian, and utility standards since some of these standards are sometimes set by other departments.
  • Write a process for splitting lots.
  • Add a section on vacation, re-subdivision and combination of plats.
  • Add a section on assurances for completion and maintenance of improvements.
  • Add an alternative enforcement penalty of ticketing.


Fiscal Considerations

The implementation of the comprehensive plan will require the City’s financial commitment and support.  Although it is the City’s intent to administer this plan with the current financial resources available, monies may need to be set aside in future budgets to carry out some of the recommended actions.  The adoption of the Comprehensive Plan does not authorize expenditures for its implementation.  The City Council, in accordance with state statutes and the City’s policies, may authorize the financial resources to implement the plan. Additional funding may be available from outside sources.  When opportunities become available and make sense financially, the City should seek these funds through federal, state or local grants, loans and other resources.


Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

The CIP is a planning document that covers a timeframe of three to five years and is updated annually. It aids in plan implementation by providing the necessary funding for short-range infrastructure and capital improvement projects.  The document provides guidance and planning for capital improvements throughout the city and allocates financial resources to various community needs and requests.  The document states the City Council’s prioritization of the financial resources available for capital project spending by identifying which projects should be included, when they should be constructed and how they will be financed.

This plan represents the City’s tentative commitment to comply with the plan unless circumstances or priorities change in the future.  The commitment is more certain in the first year of the CIP and becomes increasingly more tenuous in subsequent years. Nevertheless, the CIP should be used as the City’s present plan and priority over the next three to five years.  Even though the CIP is a planning document, it should not be an automatic authorization of the construction of projects, because of the procurement process and the allocation of resources.


Private Land Use Decision

The Plan guides landowners in the City of Lebanon.  If landowners want to use their land in a new way, they need to identify the zoning district in which the property is located and determine whether the zoning regulations allow the development of the proposed land use.  If not, the owner needs to examine the Comprehensive Plan concerning the property, since a change in zoning must be consistent with the intent of the Plan.


Coordination and Partnerships

Planning elements are interconnected between many City initiatives, non-profit-based community projects, and private development.  The City should assume a leadership role in promoting strong partnerships between city, regional, and state public agencies; community groups and non-profit organizations; the local business community; neighborhoods; and the private sector.  The City should conduct outreach and continuing education on the Plan’s vision and principles by encouraging developers, builders, and the business community to help implement the Plan.