Our Unique Community Participation Visioning and Planning Process

“Great Places begin with a Great Vision”
“We are the professional who help create the Vision of what places that people want”

 “The most successful plans that we have implemented are those where the community had a stake in the creation of the plan – no one can know a community better than those that live and work there.”              ACN

DSC_0020Vision and Planning

Vision planning is the unique public participation process for planning and site design, created by A. Nelessen Associates (ANA).  This process includes the Visual Preference Surveytm (VPS), Community Questionnaire, Analysis of VPStm and Questionnaire, Vision Translation Workshop, Vision Plan, Design Guidelines, and Final Plan.  The VPStm serves as an innovative method of community participation in the planning process that is custom tailored to the community’s needs and concerns.  The Translation Workshop allows concerned citizens and civic leaders to become designers and draw their community of the future.  The ANA team synthesizes these recommendations into a consensus-vision based plan.  Draft vision plans are presented to the public for additional comments, and revised accordingly.  The vision plan and design guidelines become the foundation for new comprehensive plans, redevelopment plans, and form based codes.  The final result is an accepted and coordinated document consistent with the positive aspirations and economic rational of all participants. 


ANA has created a proven, effective and efficient planning and design tool involving photographs, maps and written questions in order to identify and address areas of specific concern for the community.  ANA begins by meeting with  local leaders, such as members of the City Council, planning and zoning boards, key individuals from the planning department, department heads, developers, political and business leaders,  influential members of the community and a local  concerned citizens.  These groups will act as sounding boards, provide guidance through the fieldwork stage, and ensure appropriate implementation once the plan is completed.


The fieldwork portion of the process also consists of walking and driving the entire area of concern to gain a better understanding of the diversity of conditions and history of the area.  Our photographic fieldwork with a list of issues and concerns become the backbone of the Visual Preference Surveytm.

The Visual Preference Surveytm and Questionnaire

The Visual Preference Surveytm is the corner stone for community involvement in the visioning process.  ANA will work with the client to design and produce a media plan to ensure maximum public involvement.  ANA can even administer the survey at public meetings, on video or via the internet, depending on the community’s needs.

A typical VPStm survey consists of 80 to 120 actual and simulated images.  Images are viewed individually and the public rates them on a scale of -10 to 10 in response to the question: “How appropriate is the image you are seeing, now and in the future for your community?”

Throughout the presentation the public will also have a chance to rate photographic simulations of possible future improvements to existing conditions.  For example, we can see what a street would look like with additional trees, different street lights, sidewalks, or a change in the buildings character and location.  These “before” and “after” images allow the public to truly visualize potentials for their community. 

The Visual Preference Surveytm is supplemented with a written questionnaire of demographic, market and policy questions custom tailored for each community. Demographic responses provide a profile of who participated and are key to understand the preferences of different demographic groups. Market and policy questions can be asked regarding: housing, shopping patterns, traffic and commuter patterns, perceptions of crime, ratings of public facilities, urban design, downtown redevelopment, the environment, tourism, governmental organization, education, recreation, historic preservation, and transportation issues.  This questionnaire provides additional insight to what problems and opportunities the public perceives for the community in the future.Steering OP (6)

Visual Preference Surveytm and Questionnaire Analysis

The average VPStm rating for each image, along with the standard deviation, represents the collective opinion of the survey participants.  The images are then analyzed to determine which design elements contribute to both positive and negative ratings and compared to the questionnaire results. The analysis of the highest and lowest rated images in multiple categories provides visual understanding of the potential land uses, locations for growth, locations for existing development enhancements, community facilities, building typologies, parking and landscaping.  Each question in the questionnaire is tabulated from which a profile of the participants is generated as well as critical marketing information and future planning policies. The combination of the image evaluations and questionnaire responses are reviewed in connection to the existing development regulations. This lays the ground work for regulation reform and implementation.

The VPStm results, marketing and policy recommendations are typically presented to the primary client group for their review, comment and revision before it is presented to the general public.

Vision Translation Workshop

The Vision Translation Workshop  (VTW) takes the analysis results of the VPStm and the questionnaire and invites the public to help generate a series of two dimensional plans. The plans are generated on existing base maps (usually an aerial photograph) of the community or study area.  Whereas the  VPS reveals what the community wants visually and spatially, the Vision Translation Workshop asks “Where do you think these images, which you rated as positive and appropriate for your community should be located?” This is the most remarkable part of the process. Many people can become involved in plan making and goal setting.  ANA facilitates this interactive workshop through proven series of sequenced tasks and graphic techniques including the use of tracing paper with markers, blocks, paper pieces, and other basic methods.  Through this process, we further understand the wants of the people.  People become the planners and designers of their future.  In this role, ANA are then facilitators and synthesizers of other people’s visions.

The Vision Plan

The many maps and plans generated by multiple “design teams” during the Translation Workshops have to be synthesized by ANA into an illustrative site plan and diagrams. This is the most arduous part of the process. ANA renders the synthesis plans digitally in AutoCAD, SketchUp or GIS and produces the recommended site plans, mobility and open space networks. From all this data and graphics a final video, Powerpoint or display boards are generated for public presentation.  After completing the final public presentations, a final report that translates the results of the VPStm and the Vision Translation Workshop is generated.  The report contains all the plans and recommendations along with every VPStm image, all statistical responses from the questionnaire along with many  cross tabulations to image responses.  The document will become the most important document in the community’s future, used for goals and objectives, land use, transportation and open space plans and finally for form based codes. 

Final Plan

The final plan brings together all the elements of the vision planning process and codifies the community’s vision into a concrete comprehensive or redevelopment plan in two, three and four dimensions for the community.  Each member of the ANA team brings their professional expertise to evaluate various alternatives and include ideas that appear practical and responsive to the consensus vision of the community in the final plan.  The final recommended plan is composed of multiple regulating plans, including the street regulating plan, landscape plan, land-use plan, building regulating plan, design and architectural standards, as well as the design vocabulary.  This plan creates a clear vision to foster proper interaction between builders, developers and the community.

Design Guidelines and Zoning / Form Based Code Regulations

The recommended two, three and four dimensional vision plan can now be codified into a form based codes for the comprehensive, development or redevelopment plans.  Using the positive rated images from the Visual Preference Surveytm and Questionnaire, with the two, three and four dimensional vision plan, design guidelines and form based codes for the project area can be developed.  Design or Form Based Codes include AutoCAD drawings of street regulations, building regulations, open space regulations, architectural and landscape standards.

Final Presentation

Inviting the public to experience the results of their input is critical for future implementation.   ANA is known for its multi-media public presentations using video and Powerpoints custom  tailored for each community and audience.  This public presentation, in a public meeting for video recognizes everyone’s input.   The participants become the architects and planners of their future town or neighborhood. They will now  be the primary supporters of the adoption  of the plan and code and support future implementation.

ANA is able to custom tailor this process to many difference communities at a range of prices. Many communities want a custom tailored process depending on staff their capabilities and availability.