Comprehensive Planning & Community Character (CPACC)

The Comprehensive Planning and Community Character (CPACC) team is involved in the implementation of Legacy 2030, the present County comprehensive plan. The work of CPACC includes:

  • Area Planning
  • Community Appearance Initiatives 
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Design
  • Downtown Planning 
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Farmland Preservation
  • Greenways, Parks, and Open Space
  • Growth Management  
  • Historic Resources Planning
  • Housing 
  • Local Development Trends
  • Public Art Initiatives
  • Unified Development Ordinances (UDO) text amendments

The CPACC team provides staff support to three advisory commissions: The Historic Resources Commission, the Community Appearance Commission, and the Public Art Commission

Primary Responsibilities

Area Planning

Area Plans are documents prepared by the City-County Planning Board that analyze the existing characteristics, trends, problems, and opportunities of specific areas of the city and county. Types of area plans include:

  • Area Plan Updates 
  • Corridor Plans
  • Northern Beltway Interchange Plans
  • Strategic Area Plans

 These plans make recommendations for future land use, zoning changes, transportation, and public facility improvements. While such plans do not change the zoning of an area, they serve as guides for the Planning Board and elected officials to use when making zoning or other planning decisions. All areas of the county are covered by adopted area plans based on policies of the Legacy plan.  For more information, see Area Plans and Corridors, Interchanges, and Strategic Areas.

 Community Appearance

CPACC staff provides support to the City-County Community Appearance Commission (CAC) to facilitate the development and implementation of various commission initiatives pertaining to street corridor improvements, gateway treatments, the biennial CAC Awards Presentation, and revised Sign Ordinance Standards. The CAC also reviews and makes recommendations on various publicly funded developments and capital improvement projects. See Community Appearance Commission for more information.

Downtown Planning

Planning staff have been involved for many years with the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership (DWSP) in revitalization efforts for downtown Winston-Salem. Since 1988, the downtown plans have been periodically updated to reflect trends and the evolution of new development. The City-County Planning Board and City Council adopted the Downtown Plan for Winston-Salem in 2002, and has adopted, updated, and revised versions of the Plan in 2005 and 2007.

The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership and City staff are continually working on implementation of the Plan. The Plan has helped in transforming downtown into a vibrant center of offices, commercial, restaurant, entertainment, and urban residential activity. The most recent Downtown Plan update was adopted in 2013.  See Downtown Winston-Salem and Downtown Winston-Salem Streetscape Plan for more information. 

Forward 2045 Comprehensive Plan

Forward 2045 will be a new version of our present Legacy 2030 comprehensive plan. Thinking long-term about the future growth and development of our community allows planning staff and citizens to prepare for and take advantage of changing conditions that we may experience. By having a vision for our future, we can enhance and leverage our strengths, address any weaknesses or threats, and preserve what matters most to us as a community. A comprehensive plan provides us with the opportunity to come together and determine the future development of our community. Policies and recommendations for future growth and development will be drafted based on public input and current trends. Possible topics of consideration include:

  • Equity
  • Housing
  • Economic Development
  • Resiliency
  • Sustainability
  • Accessibility
  • Community Development History
  • Livability

For more information, see Forward 2045. 

Greenways, Parks, and Open Space 

CPACC staff works with other agencies both within and outside City-County government to plan the locations and coordinate the implementation of:

  • Community open space
  • Greenways
  • Parks
  • Recreational facilities

 The team also evaluates new development proposals and zoning requests for compliance with existing guidelines and plan recommendations.  For more information, see Parks and Open Space Plan Update (PDF) adopted in 2020 and Greenway Plan Update (PDF) adopted in 2012.

Historic Resources Planning

Historic Resources staff works with citizens, property owners, businesses, public agencies, and other community organizations to help identify, preserve, and promote the community’s unique heritage. Serving as professional liaisons to the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission (HRC), staff is responsible for administration of the Historic (H) and Historic Overlay (HO) Districts as well as Forsyth County’s Local Historic Landmark (LHL) program. Historic Resources staff also responds to public inquiries about various historic preservation issues, such as:

  • Appropriate rehabilitation/preservation techniques
  • Available financial incentives
  • Questions about specific historic properties
  • Sources of historical information

See Historic Resources Commission and Historic Resources for more information.


CPACC manages compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of federally funded housing rehabilitation and construction projects. The team works in collaboration with the City of Winston-Salem Housing Development, Neighborhood Services, and Business Inclusion and Advancement Departments, as well as the Forsyth County Community and Economic Development Department to implement housing initiatives and achieve affordable housing goals. Staff also researches affordable housing strategies, writes reports, and makes recommendations to the City-County Planning Board, City Council, and the County Commissioners.

Public Art

CPACC provides staff support to the City-County Public Art Commission (PAC) created in 2016 to facilitate the creation of public art on public lands and facilities throughout Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, and participating towns and villages.  Staff assists the PAC in the formulation of public art projects, artist selection, and contract administration.  Recent public art projects include a sculpture outside of the new public library, an award-winning artistic painting on a public water tank, an artistic bus shelter program, and artwork in recent renovations to the Benton Convention Center. See Public Art Commission for more information.  

Unified Development Ordinances (UDO) Text Amendments

Legacy 2030, the adopted comprehensive plan for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County makes a variety of recommendations to promote quality growth and conserve our community’s cultural and environmental resources. While some Legacy recommendations are generalized, others are more specific with respect to the direct implementation of Legacy goals through development ordinance amendments. The CPACC work group’s role is to draft recommended text changes and oversee their adoption through a formalized public review process. Examples of ordinance changes include:

  • Airport Overlay District revisions
  • Infill development standards
  • Mixed-use Development standards
  • Parking Regulation revisions
  • Planned Residential Development standards revisions
  • Revisions to align with North Carolina Planning and Development Statute amendments 
  • Subdivision Street standards
  • Sign Ordinance revisions 
  • Urban agriculture standards

For recent UDO text amendments, see Unified Development Ordinances (UDO) & Amendments

Specific CPACC Responsibilities

Specific duties and projects that CPACC staff provide include:

  • Demographic Resources
  • Design Assistance to City and County departments, as requested
  • Development plan and building permit review regarding historic resources
  • Downtown Planning
  • Economic Development Assistance
  • Environmental Reviews
  • Forsyth County Annual Trends Report
  • Forward 2045 Comprehensive Plan
  • Local Historic Marker Program 
  • National Register of Historic Places nominations review
  • National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 project reviews
  • Quarterly Development Dashboard reports
  • Performance of certified local government duties and reporting regarding historic resources
  • Public Art contract administration
  • Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas (RUCA) assistance