October 2021 – Each year the American Planning Association (APA), County Planning Division (CPD) and its sister organization, the National Association of County Planners (NACP) gives out County Planning Project Awards. This year, Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission and Hillsborough County are the recipient of an Award of Excellence in the Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction category for the One Water Chapter – Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan.
Located in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, Unincorporated Hillsborough County exceeded 1 million residents for the first time ever in 2020. The One Water Chapter of the Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan represents a new and innovative approach to comprehensive planning for counties in terms of format, content, and process. Adopted in late 2020, the Chapter was developed as a novel way of long-range planning for water resources via a multi-year collaborative initiative involving planners, technical experts, and multiple stakeholder groups. The Chapter contains language to enable best practices at the forefront of water resources planning, such as green infrastructure, Low Impact Development, matching the right resource with the right use, alternative water supply, and integrated water resources management. At the same time, it is carefully linked to other aspects of planning and supports the land use and fiscal sustainability goals of the County, such as areawide stormwater to support redevelopment, and multi-use and multi-benefit projects.
Planning Commission staff crafted the language via a collaborative process with staff from across water resource disciplines at Hillsborough County. Engineers, environmental scientists, and hydrogeologists representing potable water, stormwater, wastewater, and natural systems all actively participated in the development of this language. This ensured that the language is implementable, a resource to County staff, and represents current strategic thinking. Overall, One Water represents a new approach to the development and form of comprehensive plans for counties across the country and water resources planning in Florida.
There are two types of awards, Awards of Excellence and Awards of Merit across seven categories: Planning Project, Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction, Comprehensive Plan – Small Jurisdiction, Best Practices, Grass Roots Initiative, Small Area/Special Area Planning, and Special Focus Planning Initiative – County Holistic Innovation Project. Only one Award of Excellence and one Award of Merit may be granted per category each year. If the Awards Jury finds that none of the nominations in a particular category meets the desirable standards, they may grant no award in that category for that year.