Implementation Tools

As stated in Chapter 1, the Comprehensive Plan is an advisory guide that embodies the community’s vision. Because the Comprehensive Plan is a guide, the City relies on other tools such as the Unified Development Ordinance, the annual operating budget, and the Capital Improvement Program to implement the Comprehensive Plan. The major tools for implementation are outlined below:

Unified Development Ordinance

The primary means of implementing the Comprehensive Plan and its Future Land Use Map is the Unified Development Ordinance. Over time, the City should seek to achieve consistency between the Zoning Map and the Future Land Use Map and between the Zoning Districts and the Future Land Use categories.

Amended Development Standards and Districts: Development standards set the ground rules for new development and redevelopment, and provide property owners and developers with a clear and consistent understanding of the City’s expectations. One of the critical first steps in implementing PlanOlathe is to align the City’s development standards with the vision of the Plan. The following list outlines key updates to the
City’s development standards:

  • Remove regulatory barriers to redevelopment
  • Promote high quality design in an economically reasonable way
  • Permit and encourage practices for incorporating natural features in new development
  • Update landscaping requirements to allow for energy and water saving landscape treatments
  • Protect valued natural areas through requirements for open space, tree preservation, stream buffers, and stormwater management practices
  • Develop viable standards for mixed-use zoning districts, and residential districts that allow for a variety of housing options
  • Ensure that lot size, density, material, and other requirements allow for affordable starter homes
  • Include cluster or conservation subdivision options for residential development
  • Update standards for vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian connections to and within commercial centers
  • Update standards for pedestrian connections to and within neighborhoods
  • Incorporate economically reasonable design features to accommodate multi-modal transportation

Overlay Districts: Overlay districts are special zones that lie on top of existing zoning categories to supplement or supersede existing regulations. Overlay districts can provide a higher level of regulation than required by the underlying zoning classification, but they can also permit exceptions or require less-restrictive standards. Implementation of PlanOlathe will require first that existing overlay districts be reviewed and updated to ensure that they function in a manner consistent with the vision of the Comprehensive Plan. There may also be an opportunity for the creation of new overlay districts as a tool to enhance specific areas that have distinct features or development characteristics.

Rezoning: There are two ways that rezoning can serve as a tool to implement the Comprehensive Plan. The first is property owner-initiated rezoning. Typically, property owners request rezoning as part of a proposal to develop their property. Each rezoning application presents an incremental opportunity to evaluate the proposed development pattern with respect the vision outlined by the Comprehensive Plan.

The second way that rezoning can implement the Plan is through City-initiated rezoning. As new zoning districts and overlay districts are created, and existing districts are updated, City-initiated rezonings present an opportunity to implement new zoning districts that better reflect the community’s vision, and better accommodate development and redevelopment. City-initiated rezoning can remove particular use, height, area, and other regulations that present unnecessary burdens for development and redevelopment, and that do not directly achieve community expectations or benefits.

Design Guidelines

Unlike design standards, which are mandatory and specific, design guidelines are more descriptive and suggestive. They do not hold the weight of law. Rather, they are meant to inspire designers to create buildings, sites and landscaping that are reflective of the character of an area and the community’s expectations for development.

The City has adopted general design guidelines for development throughout the City. There are also specific design guidelines associated with local area and corridor plans. As PlanOlathe is implemented, it will be necessary to update and integrate these existing guidelines so that they function coherently within the framework of the Comprehensive Plan.


Capital Improvement Program

The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a financial planning tool that enables the City to plan for large, high priority capital projects, such as parks, street and drainage improvements, utilities, and public facilities, over a period of time. The CIP matches the cost of capital improvements to anticipated revenues and provides the policy framework for the allocation of funding. The CIP is an essential implementation tool for carrying out PlanOlathe’s policies of orderly and efficient provision of urban facilities and services. Through master planning and annual budgeting the CIP directs resources to provide an adequate range of urban services, and directs the location and timing of growth. It is used as an alternative to considering individual public projects one at a time without reference to overall community priorities or fiscal capacity.

Since public dollars are limited, it is important to balance priorities with available resources and other funding source options to effectively leverage public expenditures. The Principles and Policies contained on the Comprehensive Plan should be considered when updating the annual CIP.


The City of Olathe provides incentives to encourage community changes while ensuring that this growth contributes to livability and sustainability.  Regulatory incentives make it easier for developers to build in a manner that is consistent with the community’s vision, and encourage providing amenities and benefits that might not otherwise be realized.

Regulatory incentives might include measures such as providing density bonuses for development projects where additional open space is preserved, or reductions in parking requirements where bike racks or other multi-modal accommodations are provided.

Direct financial incentives can also be provided that will spur desired outcomes. There are broad range of financial incentive tools available, ranging from industrial revenue bonds to historic tax credits, to transportation development districts. The policies and criteria that the City establishes for the granting of financial incentives can directly promote the principles and policies of the Comprehensive Plan.


PlanOlathe cannot be implemented solely by the City of Olathe. Success of the Plan hinges on community partnerships.

A key characteristic of successful communities is their ability to forge partnerships.  Community partnerships thrive in an environment where individuals and organizations feel mot­ivated to invest their time and resources for the larger community benefit. They invest time and resources because they believe in the cause for the community and be­lieve that their investment will result in a higher quality of life. In essence, the individual or organization becomes more vested in the future of the community.

Public, private, and non-profit partnerships help to engage and energize the community, strengthen community networks and social bonds, and resolve issues of mutual concern. For example, public partnerships between Olathe and Johnson County, surrounding cities, school districts and other jurisdictions provide a logical way to attempt to resolve growth an development related challenges. Private partnerships between the City, its corporate citizens, and the Chamber of Commerce can help to develop and enhance a thriving local economy. Partnerships with non-profits can enable the City and local groups to mutually assist one another in meeting the needs of Olathe citizens.

Performance Measures and Fact-Based Analysis

The principles and policies of PlanOlathe are shaped by the community’s vision for future growth and development. This vision is grounded in a fact-based analysis of existing conditions and future needs. Citizen surveys of community priorities, a land demand analysis, and buildout study are some of the tools employed as part of this planning process to create a reliable picture of Olathe’s challenges and opportunities today, and where Olathe might be headed in the future. Successful implementation of the Plan will require ongoing analysis and review to evaluate where the community’s vision is being successfully fulfilled, and where challenges remain.