Glossary of Terms

  1. A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The purpose of the Glossary of Terms is to explain the concepts located throughout the Plano Comprehensive Plan. In addition, the Glossary serves to clarify terms that may have multiple meanings. Unlike definitions adopted in a regulatory document, this Glossary of Terms does not strictly govern the document, but the terms can and should be utilized to generally explain the content of the document. 

Definitions have been cited from a variety of accredited sources. Sources are listed after each definition and a complete list, along with links to the cited definitions, is provided in the References section of the Glossary. 

* American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary available in the Plano Public Library System.

Disclaimer: Some terms listed within this Glossary have also been defined in adopted City of Plano regulatory documents, as they may be amended from time to time, such as the Zoning Ordinance. Adopted definitions in regulatory documents control those documents, while these Glossary terms advise only the Plano Comprehensive Plan.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. (United States Department of Labor)


See Multifamily Types.

Area Plan

A plan...that covers specific subareas of the...[city].  These plans provide basic information on the natural features, resources, and physical constraints that affect development of the planning area. They also specify detailed land-use designation used to review specific development proposals and to plan services and facilities. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


A six-lane divided roadway, represented on the Thoroughfare Plan Map as Type C or greater (A, B, B+, and C).

Attached Single-Family Types

Attached Single-family (Attached SF) Types includes housing products with generally one dwelling unit per lot attached by a common vertical floor to roof wall to a similar dwelling, such as:

  • duplexes
  • townhomes
  • brownstones
  • row houses

Attached Single-Family Types, Brownstones

A term commonly used in reference to attached single-family dwellings. See Attached Single-Family Types, Townhomes.

Attached Single-Family Types, Duplexes

See Dwelling (Two-Family) in the Zoning Ordinance.

Attached Single-Family Types, Row Houses

A term commonly used in reference to attached single-family dwellings. See Attached Single-Family Types, Townhomes.

Attached Single-Family Types, Townhomes

A term commonly used in reference to attached single-family dwellings. See Single-Family Residence (Attached) in the Zoning Ordinance.



For residential uses, the actual number or the allowable range of dwelling units per net or gross acre. For non-residential uses, the actual or the maximum permitted floor area ratio (FAR). (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


Frequent, faster and higher-capacity bus service designed as an integrated system of service, facilities and strategies that distinguish it from regular bus service. The elements of bus rapid transit can vary depending on the operating environment and may include priority through separate right-of-way, preferential treatments at intersections, intelligent transportation systems, as well as other actions that improve bus speed and reliability, including limited stops, vehicle design, fare collection systems and high-quality bus stations. Bus rapid transit is often branded to promote the service as unique from regular bus transit service. (American Public Transit Association)



Property owned by the City of Plano.


A multidisciplinary and collaborative design approach (between planners, law enforcement, engineers, designers, code enforcement, and community stakeholders) intended to foster positive social interactions and deter criminal behavior within communities. Proponents of CPTED argue that proper design, use, and management of the built environment leads to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, while improving community vitality and overall quality of life. (American Planning Association)


An electric or diesel propelled railway for urban passenger train service consisting of local travel which operates between a central city and outlying areas....Commuter rail is generally characterized by multi-trip tickets, specific station-to-station fares, railroad employment practices, relatively long distance between stops, and only 1-2 stations in the central business district. (National Transit Database Glossary)


The characteristics of different uses or activities that permit them to be located near each other in harmony and without conflict. The designation of permitted and conditionally permitted uses in a zoning district is intended to achieve compatibility. Some elements affecting compatibility include intensity of occupancy as measured by dwelling units per acre; pedestrian or vehicular traffic generated; volume of goods handled; and environmental effects like noise, vibration, glare, air pollution, or radiation. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


A form of property ownership providing for individual ownership of space in a structure together with an individual interest in the land or other parts of the structure in common with other owners. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*) See Multifamily Types.


Considering surrounding context when making planning or infrastructure decisions. This represents a shift over traditional approaches which were all about “function” to an approach that balances the focused project purpose with community values and assets. Successful context sensitive processes both facilitate citizen participation throughout the process and allow greater design flexibility in the final product. (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning)


A broad geographical band that follows a general directional flow connecting major sources of trips that may contain a number of streets, highways, and transit route alignments. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)

A regional transit agency authorized under Chapter 452 of the Texas Transportation Code and was created by voters and funded with a one-cent local sales tax on August 13, 1983. The service area consists of 13 cities: Addison, Carrollton, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Glenn Heights, Highland Park, Irving, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett, and University Park. As of March 2020, DART serves its 13 Service Area cities bus and shuttle routes, On-Demand GoLink zones, light rail transit (DART Rail), and paratransit service for persons who are mobility impaired. (DART)

Density (Future Land Use Map)

For the purposes of the Future Land Use Map, density is measured by the number of dwelling units per acre (DUA) on an individual lot or within a residential subdivision (reasonably excluding public or private streets, park land, and public open space). Where both residential and non-residential uses share a lot and/or common facilities (parking, open space, etc.), the acreage attributed to non-residential uses will be removed from the density calculation. The following examples illustrate how residential density should be calculated in each instance:

Density (Future Land Use)

Average Densities for FLU Categories:

FLU Category
Average Density
Neighborhoods (N)6 DUA
Neighborhood Corners (NC)N/A
Community Corners (CC)N/A
Suburban Activity Centers (SA)25 DUA
Urban Activity Centers (UA)59 DUA
Employment Centers (EM)N/A
Downtown Corridors (DT)45 DUA
Expressway Corridors (EX)25 DUA
Social Network (SN)N/A
Open Space Network (OS)N/A

Design Elements

See Urban Design.

Detached Single-Family Types

The most prolific type of housing in Plano’s suburban neighborhoods, Detached Single-family (Detached SF) Types includes detached housing products with a single dwelling unit per lot, such as:

  • conventional houses
  • estates
  • patio homes
  • small-lot single-family

Detached Single-Family Types, Conventional Houses

See Single-Family Residence (Detached) in the Zoning Ordinance.

Detached Single-Family Types, Estates

A conventional house located on a lot one acre or greater.

Detached Single-Family Types, Patio Homes

See Patio Home in the Zoning Ordinance.

Detached Single-Family Types, Small-Lot Single-Family

A conventional house located on a lot no greater than 4,000 square feet, generally.

Dwelling Units per Acre

A measurement of residential density. See Density (Future Land Use Map).



A divided arterial highway for through traffic with full or partial control of access with more than 50 percent of all crossroads separated in grade. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)



A point along a roadway where a motorist gains a sense of entering a city or county [or neighborhood or destination]. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Green Buildings

Structures that incorporate the principles of sustainable design—design in which the impact of a building on the environment will be minimal over the lifetime of that building. Green buildings incorporate principles of energy and resource efficiency, practical applications of waste reduction and pollution prevention, good indoor air quality and natural light to promote occupant health and productivity, and transportation efficiency in design and construction, during use and reuse. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


Heat Island

See Urban Heat Island.

Historic Preservation (Heritage Preservation)

The preservation of historically significant structures and neighborhoods to facilitate restoration and rehabilitation of the building(s) to a former condition. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


Industrial Types

Industrial Types includes businesses that are heavy commercial or industrial related, often with outside storage, vehicle storage, and multiple bay doors, such as:

  • office/warehouses
  • distribution centers
  • private utilities
  • wholesale building supplies
  • transmission/collision repair
  • car dealerships

Infill Development

Development of vacant or underutilized land (usually individual lots or leftover properties) within areas that are already largely developed. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


Public services and facilities like sewage-disposal systems, water-supply systems, other utility systems, schools, roads, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and transit systems. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Institutional Types

Institutional Types includes educational, medical, and government related uses, such as:

  • hospitals
  • emergency rooms
  • schools
  • post offices
  • government facilities
  • assisted living1 
  • religious facilities
  • police/fire stations

1While retirement housing is categorized as EIPS in the Zoning Ordinance, institutional housing can be associated with both Residential and Employment uses. Assisted living and long-term care facilities are considered Institutional Types due to their operations.

Intelligent Transportation System

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies advance transportation safety and mobility and enhance American productivity by integrating advanced communications technologies into transportation infrastructure and into vehicles. It encompasses a broad range of wireless and traditional communications-based information and electronic technologies. (United States Department of Transportation)

Investment Zones

See Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Public Improvement District (PID)


Level of Service (Bicycles and Pedestrians)

Multimodal performance measures [that] focus as much on the quality and convenience of facilities as they do on movement and flow. For example, the adequacy of pedestrian facilities is not determined by how crowded a sidewalk is but by the perception of comfort and safety. For transit services, frequency is an important attribute, but “on-time performance” and the pedestrian environment surrounding bus and rail stations are also critical aspects of the traveler experience. (Institute of Transportation Engineers)

Level of Service (Traffic)

A scale that measures the amount of vehicle traffic that a roadway or intersection can accommodate, based on such factors as maneuverability, driver dissatisfaction, and delay. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Light Rail

A transit mode that typically is an electric railway with a light volume traffic capacity compared to heavy rail (HR). It is characterized by:

  • Passenger rail cars operating singly (or in short, usually two car, trains) on fixed rails in shared or exclusive right-of-way (ROW);
  • Low or high platform loading; and
  • Vehicle power drawn from an overhead electric line via a trolley or a pantograph.

(National Transit Database Glossary)



Any small, low-speed, human or electric-powered transportation device, including bicycles, scooters, electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes), electric scooters (e-scooters), and other small, lightweight, wheeled conveyances. (Federal Highway Administration)

Mix of Use Measurement Areas

The areas used to determine the total acreage or dwelling units when analyzing the Mix of Uses of the Future Land Use Map & Dashboards. Three methods are used in Plano:

  • Citywide: The total area within the same future land use (FLU) category in the city is considered as a whole when measuring the mix of uses. For example, all Neighborhoods (N) areas are measured together, regardless of gaps or lack of contiguity.
  • Per Adjoining Corner/Center: All continuous areas within the same FLU category are considered as a whole when measuring the mix of uses regardless of gaps, separation by major roadways, or having only point-to-point connectivity.
    • Example 1: the Community Corners (CC) on the north side of the Spring Creek Pkwy. and Coit Rd. intersection have adjacency across a major roadway and are measured together.
      Per Adjoining Corner/Center Example 1
    • Example 2: the Neighborhood Corners (NC) at the intersection of Hedgcoxe Rd. and Coit Rd. have point-to-point connectivity and are measured together.
      Per Adjoining Corner/Center Example 2
  • Per Expressway: All area within the FLU category along each expressway is considered as a whole when measuring the mix of uses. For example, all Expressway Corridors (EX) areas along the US 75 corridor are measured together, regardless of gaps or lack of contiguity.
    Per Expressway


Properties on which various uses like office, commercial, institutional, and residential are combined in a single building or on a single site in an integrated development project with significant functional interrelationships and a coherent physical design. A “single site” may include contiguous properties. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


The movement of people or goods. (Victoria Transport Policy Institute)


Commute mode share measures the percentage of workers aged 16 years and over who commute either by bicycle; by private vehicle, including car, truck, van, taxicab, and motorcycle; by public transportation, including bus, rail, and ferry; or by foot. (United States Department of Transportation 1)

Multifamily Types

Multifamily (MF) Types includes any housing designed with more than 3 dwelling units per lot, including:

  • garden-style apartments/condominiums
  • main street-style apartments/condominiums
  • small-scale apartments/condominiums
  • mid-rise apartments/condominiums
  • high-rise apartments/condominiums
  • independent living centers

Multifamily Types, Garden-Style

Traditional apartment complexes, including condominiums, that contain more than 10 units on a lot. They are often multiple buildings, gated access, and set along the edge of Plano’s typical neighborhood design. Generally 2 to 4 stories in height with surface parking, but may include carports or garages for individual units. Amenities are provided in separate buildings and within the complex’s property.

Multifamily Types, High-Rise

Apartments, including condominiums, located within walkable proximity to mixed-use development and major employers. Generally 10 or more stories in height, with or without retail uses on the first floor. Parking is available in multi-level garages and on-street parking spaces. Amenities are often provided within the building and on rooftop decks.

Multifamily Types, Independent Living

Housing complexes primarily restricted to residents age 55 and over, that may or may not provide community facilities and convenience services such as meals, transportation, and housekeeping. While retirement housing is categorized as EIPS in the Zoning Ordinance, institutional housing can be associated with both Residential and Employment uses. Housing units within independent living centers are counted towards Multifamily Types for the purposes of the Future Land Use Map and Dashboards due to their design and function.

Multifamily Types, Main Street-Style

Apartments, including condominiums, located within, or in walkable proximity to, mixed-use or transit-oriented developments. Generally 3 to 4 stories in height, with or without retail uses on the first floor. Parking is available in multi-level garages and on-street parking spaces. Amenities are often provided in internal courtyards.

Multifamily Types, Mid-Rise

Apartments, including condominiums, located within transit-oriented developments, or adjacent to and in support of employment areas. Generally 5 to 9 stories in height, with or without retail uses on the first floor. Parking is available in multi-level garages and/or on-street parking spaces. Amenities are often provided within the building, on rooftop decks, and in internal courtyards.

Multifamily Types, Small-Scale

Apartments, including condominiums, that contain up to 10 units per lot and are managed by a governance association. Generally 1 to 3 stories in height. Parking is available in garage or surface parking at the rear of the property.

Multimodal Streets

Streets that accommodate multiple modes of transportation, including vehicles, transit, micromobility, and people on foot.

Multimodal Streets Ordinance

A city ordinance directing transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right-of-way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. (United States Department of Transportation 1)


Natural Feature

Components and processes present or produced by nature, including soil types, geology, slopes, vegetation, surface water, drainage patterns, aquifers, recharge areas, climate, floodplains, aquatic life, and wildlife. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


A planning area commonly identified as such in a community’s planning documents, and by the individuals residing and working within the neighborhood. Documentation may include a map prepared for planning purposes showing the names and boundaries of neighborhoods. Though neighborhoods are not legal designations, they are among the most commonly recognized and understood land use designations. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)

A voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG’s purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions. NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered around the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. (North Central Texas Council of Governments)


Office Types

Office Types generally includes businesses that provide professional, medical, or administrative services located in a neighborhood or corporate campus setting, such as:

  • doctor/dentist offices
  • attorney offices
  • research/technology businesses
  • insurance agencies
  • corporate offices

Refer to Zoning Ordinance for definitions of specific uses.

Open Space

See Zoning Ordinance and Future Land Use Dashboards.

Overlay Districts

See Zoning Ordinance.



See Zoning Ordinance


The density, layout, and infrastructure that encourages walking and biking within a subdivision or development, including short setbacks, front porches, sidewalks, and bikepaths. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Public Improvement District (PID)

A defined geographical area established to provide specific types of improvements or maintenance within the area which are financed by assessments against the property owners within the area. Authorized by Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code.



Building new construction on a site that has preexisting uses or renovating existing uses on a site. Redevelopment generally is a strategy to rehabilitate blighted urban areas through renovation. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Renewable Energy

Energy derived from sources that do not deplete natural resources. Examples include solar, wind, and geothermal energy from the earth’s core. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Residential Adjacency

See Zoning Ordinance.

Retail Types

Retail Types generally includes businesses with commercial store frontages located in pad, strip, activity, or big box shopping centers. It also includes supporting businesses such as light office, hotels, self-storage, gas stations, light automotive servicing centers, entertainment venues, and other similar uses when located in a retail shopping center. Refer to Zoning Ordinance for definitions of specific uses.


Transportation of more than one person for commute purposes, in a motor vehicle, with or without the assistance of a commuter matching service. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


See Subdivision Ordinance.


Safe Routes to School Maps

A school route map can inform students and families about walking and bicycling routes to school and can also identify areas that require improvements. While school route maps are often developed for all households within the school walk zone, consideration should be given to areas outside of the defined walk zone and, when appropriate, to the entire enrollment area of a school. A school walking and bicycling route map not only provides way-finding for students to walk and bicycle to and from school, it can identify where engineering treatments may be needed and where adult school crossing guards, curb ramps, and traffic control devices such as signs, crosswalks, and traffic signals should be provided. (National Center for Safe Routes to School)

Sensitive Land Uses

Land uses, including residential and institutional dwellings, defined to be sensitive to the effects of noise and air pollution when adjacent to expressways as listed in the Expressway Corridor Environmental Health Map and Guidelines.


The minimum distance by which any building or structure must be separated from a street right-of-way or lot line. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Short Hop Services

See Transit Shuttle.

Stormwater Runoff

That portion of the stormwater that flows from the land surface of a site either naturally, in man-made ditches, or in a closed conduit system. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


An area that may either abut or be contained within a public or private street right-of-way or accessway that may contain sidewalks, street furniture, landscaping or trees, and similar features. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


Low- to medium-development patterns that surround the urban areas of a city. The suburbs are often residential in character with single-family detached houses as the primary use of land. Increasingly, the suburbs contain employment and service centers as well as residential areas. The automobile historically determines the form of the suburbs. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Sustainable Development

Development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies depend. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

A tax incentive designed to attract business investment by dedicating to the project area the new property tax revenues generated by redevelopment. The increase in revenues (increment) is used to finance development-related costs in that district. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning TermsAuthorized by Chapter 311 of the Texas Tax Code.


See Thoroughfare Standards Rules and Regulations.

Traffic Calming

The Institute of Transportation Engineers defines traffic calming as the combination of measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users. Traffic calming consists of physical design and other measures put in place on existing roads to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. For example, vertical deflections (speed humps, speed tables, and raised intersections), horizontal shifts, and roadway narrowing are intended to reduce speed and enhance the street environment for non-motorists. Closures that obstruct traffic movements in one or more directions, such as median barriers, are intended to reduce cut-through traffic. Traffic calming measures can be implemented at an intersection, street, neighborhood, or area-wide level. (United States Department of Transportation 2)

Traffic Impact Analysis

See Zoning Ordinance.

Trail, Off-Street

See Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space Master Plan.


Passenger services provided by public, private, or nonprofit entities such as the following surface transit modes: commuter rail, rail rapid transit, light rail transit, light guideway transit, express bus, and local fixed route bus. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)*

A mixed-use community within an average 2,000-foot walking distance of a transit stop and core commercial area. TODs mix residential, retail, office, and public uses in a walkable environment, making it convenient for residents and employees to travel by transit, bicycle, foot, or car. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

* Exception: For the purposes of the Downtown Corridor Dashboard, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is defined as a 1/4 mile radius.

Transit Shuttle

Transit service that travels over a short route or one that connects two transportation systems or centers. Frequently operated using a minibus or van. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Transportation Demand Management (TDM)

Programmatic strategies designed to make efficient use of the existing transportation system. Specifically, demand management strategies attempt to increase transit ridership, vehicle occupancy, walking, and bicycling, and to reduce the lengths of some trips, move them to off-peak hours, or eliminate them altogether. Implementation of demand management strategies can reduce dependence on the single-occupant vehicle, thereby reducing traffic congestion, vehicle emissions, and fuel consumption. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)


Unified Design

Uniform urban design, typically established for a defined district or area. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Universal Design

Design of buildings, products and environments that are usable and effective for everyone, not just people with disabilities. The Center for Universal Design identifies seven principles of universal design: 1) equitable use; 2) flexibility in use; 3) simple and intuitive; 4) perceptible information; 5) tolerance for error; 6) low physical effort; 7) size and space for approach and use. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)


Of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city. Urban areas are generally characterized by moderate and higher density residential development (i.e., three or more dwelling units per acre), commercial development, and industrial development, as well as the availability of public services required for that development, specifically central water and sewer, an extensive road network, public transit, and other such services (e.g., safety and emergency response). Development not providing such services may be nonurban or rural. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*)

Urban Design

The attempt to give form, in terms of both beauty and function, to selected urban areas or to whole cities. Urban design is concerned with the location, mass, and design of various urban components and combines elements of urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture. (American Planning Association: A Planners Dictionary*Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)

Urban Heat Island

Refers to the tendency for urban areas to have warmer air temperatures than the surrounding rural landscape, due to the extensive surface area of streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and buildings. These surfaces absorb solar radiation during the day and release it at night, resulting in higher temperatures. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)



See Pedestrian-Friendly.



The division of a city or county by legislative regulations into areas, or zones, that specify allowable uses for real property and size restrictions for buildings within these areas; a program that implements policies of the general plan. (Institute for Local Government: Glossary of Land Use and Planning Terms)