Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan Process

General Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan Information

Project Background

In late 2019, the Village of Niles began the RFP process for an updated Comprehensive Plan.  In March 2020, the Village Board formally approved the Lakota Group as the Village’s consultant for the project. Over the summer 2020, the Village held an application process and the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) was formed.  This group consisted of residents, Planning and Zoning Board members, and Village Trustees and was tasked with acting as a “sounding board” for the Village and the Lakota Group throughout the process.  Since that time, the Village and the CPAC worked off and on on the Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Unfortunately, the project was disrupted numerous times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and staffing issues.  

Members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee

Denise McCreery, Former Trustee (Co-Chair)
Craig Niedermaier, Trustee (Co-Chair)
Collin Baker, Resident
Mike DeSantiago, Resident
Tom Kanelos, Chair of the Planning and Zoning Board
Janet Lee, Resident
Joe Macchione, Resident
Dennis McEnerney, Resident
John Murphy, Resident
Scott O’Brien, Resident

The Planning Process

The planning process of the Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan included three planning phases: the State of the Village, Community Visioning, and Final Plan/Implementation Strategy.
The Planning Process

Information about  each of the Phases can be found below.

Phase 1 - State of the Village

What was the State of the Village?

The goal of the first phase was to gain an understanding of existing conditions in Niles and to initiate a community engagement program. The Village concluded Phase 1 with the completion of the State of the Village Report which can be viewed here.

What is included in the State of the Village Report?

Phase 1 included an assessment and analysis of various land use issues, zoning, parks and open space, physical conditions and urban design elements, transportation conditions, demographic and economic market conditions, infrastructure, and utilities.  The report also includes information about Niles' history, its regional context and setting, a demographic profile, a review of past plans and studies, and key takeaways from the early research, mapping and analysis, and stakeholder interviews and other community engagement efforts.

Phase 1 Community Engagement

The Village of Niles implemented an extensive community outreach strategy for this planning process that incorporated the perspective of numerous community stakeholders including residents, business and property owners, school and public administrators, transportation agency representatives, community groups, elected and appointed officials, and Village staff.  A strong online and virtual format for public engagement and interaction activities was used to gather community feedback regarding existing conditions, issues, and opportunities for growth and redevelopment, planning goals and strategies, and the community vision for the future of Niles.  A document was prepared that analyzed the Phase 1 Community Engagement efforts and can be viewed here.

Phase 2 - Community Visioning

What was Phase 2 - Community Visioning?

The Community Visioning phase explored a range of ideas, strategies, and policies for future physical improvements to key target opportunity areas of the Village. It included a community workshop and other pop-up engagement opportunities, including attendance at the open houses for the Niles Public Works and Fire Departments . The draft of the updated comprehensive plan was also started during this phase.

Phase 2 Community Engagement 

To kick-off phase 2, Community Visioning, the planning team hosted two informational pop-up booths during Village hosted events. The first was held on September 18, 2021, during the Niles Public Works Open House, and then again on September 25, 2021, during the Niles Fire Department Open House and Pancake Breakfast. These events where an opportunity to share project information with the community and provide an opportunity for the public to provide input and share their vision for the future of Niles.

The Village also hosted a Community Visioning Workshop for the Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, from 6-8 PM. The purpose of the workshop was to provide an update about the project tasks completed to date and learn about the vision and desires the public has for the future of Niles. Approximately thirty-five participants attended the workshop. A follow-up online survey was released to the public after the workshop, mirroring the exercises done during the workshop, to provide an opportunity to receive additional feedback for those unable to attend. 

A document was prepared that analyzed the Phase 2 Community Engagement efforts and can be viewed here.

Key Themes from Phase 1 and 2 Community Engagement Efforts

A robust engagement process built on the voices and ideas of community stakeholders, residents, business owners, local leasers, and more, revealed the following key planning themes that guided the development of the Comprehensive Plan.

  • Niles is Known for its Strong System of Community Resources. 
  • Improve Recreational Opportunities in Niles. 
  • Celebrate Niles’ Diversity. 
  • Diversify the Housing Stock. 
  • Attract and Retain Empty Nesters and Families. 
  • Make Niles a Destination through Arts, Culture, and Entertainment. 
  • Reinvest in and Reimagine Golf Mill and Touhy Triangle. 
  • Strengthen Niles’ Identity along the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor. 
  • Improve Walkability and Connectivity throughout the Village.

Phase 3 - Final Comprehensive Plan and Implementation Strategy

What is Phase 3 - Final Comprehensive Plan and Implementation Strategy?

The Final Plan and Implementation Strategy includes the combined effort of all the community engagement, existing conditions analysis, and opportunity area plans and is cultivated into a final Comprehensive Plan and Implementation strategy document.  On January 23, 2024, the Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt the proposed Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan (Click HERE to see the adopted document).  

Key Components of the Comprehensive Plan

Vision Statement. This statement provides the long-term vision for what Niles will strive for in the future and serves as the aspirational value of the entire Plan.

2040 Vision Statement

Strategic Planning Elements. The Comprehensive Plan is divided into the following nine topical categories:

  • Land Use Strategy
  • Village Character and Identity
  • Community Facilities and Services
  • Districts and Corridors
  • Neighborhoods
  • Arts and Culture
  • Mobility Systems
  • Parks and Open Space
  • Sustainability

Each of these elements are intended to carry forward the goals and objectives from the 2030 Comprehensive Plan and introduce new policies and strategies reflecting a range of planning needs determined by the Niles’ residents and stakeholders during the two-year engagement process. All elements are essential to realizing Niles’ long-term vision.

Goals, Policies, StrategiesThe Niles 2040 Comprehensive Plan features a series of goals, policies, and strategies that aim and strive to achieve the community’s aspirations and future vision statement. 

  1. Goals. Overarching statement of aim and purpose for each element to guide decision-making over the time horizon of this Comprehensive Plan.
  2. PoliciesSpecific course of action to achieve the goal proposed in the Comprehensive Plan and adopted by the Village of Niles as a statement of intent.
  3. Strategies. Steps and initiatives required to advance the Comprehensive Plan’s various policies.

Additionally, throughout the plan are graphics that represent existing and future land uses, recommendations on streetscape improvements and individual site development opportunities throughout the Village, and case studies as projects that represent qualities that the Village could use as examples of best practices for new development.

2040 Other Images

Implementation Matrix. At the end of the Plan is an Implementation Matrix which the Village can use as a tool to prioritize implementation strategies and efforts. This matrix is a living document and will be updated on an annual basis to reflect priorities for the coming year and to ensure the Comprehensive Plan continues to align with the planning goals and aspirations of the community. 

How will the Niles 2040 Plan be used?

A Comprehensive Plan serves as the framework for local leaders and government officials and is the foundation upon which development and land use decisions should be based. Going forward, the Village will integrate the Comprehensive Plan into everyday decision-making.