Texas Planning Awards


Awards For 2023

Comprehensive Planning Award

City of McAllen | Envision McAllen Comprehensive Plan

For a comprehensive or general plan that advances the science and art of planning. 

As the Rio Grande Valley continues a trend of explosive population and economic growth, McAllen’s Comprehensive Plan, “Envision McAllen,” allows the city to remain flexible. The plan guides business, residential and economic development into 2040. As a leader in the region, McAllen has capitalized on opportunities from both sides of the border, and international trade and commerce will continue to play a significant role in the local economy. The plan assists the City in making informed decisions related to economic development in a citywide, regional and binational context, versus individual target industries or project-specific site decisions. Economic resilience underpinned recommendations throughout the plan. It’s a long-term look at transportation, land use, infrastructure, economic development, and neighborhoods. Community input was vital to the plan’s success, allowing the City to create a report highlighting citizens’ top priorities as the city grows. Among them was a trend toward more mixed-used development, allowing residents to better access a variety of opportunities within their communities. The plan supports pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use urban environments at nodes throughout the City with convenient access to multi-modal corridors, shopping, employment, housing and neighborhood retail services.

View Nomination

Advancing Diversity and Social Change Award

Greener Gulfton

This award honors an individual, project, group, or organization that promotes diversity and involves historic underrepresented groups, positively impacts the quality of life for low- or moderate-income individuals, and/or addresses structural inequities within a community through specific actions or contributions within the planning profession or through planning practice.  

The Greener Gulfton Plan delineates resilience strategies for the Gulfton community, including greenification and public placemaking strategies developed through an equity-based engagement process. The team’s deliberate effort to “meet residents where they were” ensured consistent community accessibility throughout the planning process and set a new precedent for community ownership in Gulfton and beyond. As a majority-minority community with a 58% immigrant population and a significant number of English-second-language residents, equitable planning for Gulfton’s future also necessitated consideration of the cultural elements defining these communities. Often hailing from regions and cultures that maintain close ties to natural environments, these residents experienced harsh effects stemming from environmental inequities, including heat island effects and flooding. In turn, creating a community ambassador program served as one of the fundamental strategies for uplifting community perspectives. While traditional planning projects often engage stakeholder and community groups separately, Greener Gulfton aimed to provide community representatives with equal opportunities for guiding the planning process. Ambassadors were financially compensated for their time in an effort to recognize their contributions to the project. This equity strategy was complemented through collaboration with groups trusted by the community.
View nomination

Planning Landmark Award

Fort Worth Stockyards Horse & Mule Barn

The Horse and Mule Barns, built in 1912, are located at the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards and are included on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Stockyards Historic District. The two barns were designed by Klipstein & Rathmann Architects as fireproof structures and featured distinctive red brick bearing walls and concrete-encased wrought iron structural members. With an original construction cost of $300,000 and a mission design, they were some of the finest stables in the world. They helped make Fort Worth the country’s largest horse and mule market during the early 20th century, providing millions of cavalry animals for both world wars.

The restoration work included the repair of significant structural damage including foundations, walls, columns, and roofs from years of neglect, weather, and fire. Extensive restorations and replacements were made to original design elements including damaged steel and wood windows, missing brick and damaged openings, stormwater elements, flag poles, and decorative soffits. The removal of all non-original elements, structures, openings, and equipment was also a priority to return the barns to their historic state.

View nomination

Student Project Award

Texas Target Communities | Uniting Neighborhoods, Unlocking Potential: Community Engagement in Jefferson, TX

The Student Project Award recognizes an outstanding class project or paper by a student or group of students in Planning Accreditation Board-accredited planning programs that contribute to advances in the field of planning.

Graduate planning students designed and facilitated the first engagement process in Jefferson, Texas, as part of the Texas Target Communities program (TxTC) and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. The City of Jefferson and the Jefferson Economic Development Corporation collaborated to understand community priorities and inform the development of the comprehensive plan.

More information

Planning Advocate Award

Mayor Ron Nirenberg | City of San Antonio

This award honors an individual, appointed, or elected official who has advanced or promoted the cause of planning in the public arena. 

Under the leadership of Mayor Ron Nirenberg, the City of San Antonio has adopted the City’s Comprehensive Plan in 2016, and nine SA Tomorrow Sub-Area plans, with nine more currently underway. The SA Tomorrow Sub-Area planning initiative, now in its third phase, has received continued support from the Mayor. He actively meets with the Planning Department and shares information with his constituents. The Mayor’s support influences the visibility of the planning process and encourages residents and other external stakeholders to become involved.

Throughout his tenure as a Councilman and as Mayor, Mayor Nirenberg has continued to support SA Tomorrow initiatives extended from the Sustainability Plan, and Multimodal Transportation Plans, including the SA Climate Ready Action and Adaptation adopted in 2019, the Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council for Climate Initiatives, and an update to the City’s Bike Network Plan. Additionally, the Mayor and City Council adopted a Strategic Housing Implementation Plan (SHIP) in 2021, a 10-year, cross-organizational vision for affordable housing. This initiative aims to stabilize households by preserving and/or creating over 28,000 homes and raising household incomes over the next decade. The SHIP builds off the Housing Policy Framework which was accepted by the Mayor and Council in 2018, to prioritize affordable housing development and preservation in the community. This adoption led way to the creation of a City dashboard to track affordable housing initiatives, and the Housing Affordability in San Antonio event, which connects residents to key community partners and resources to assist with navigating the housing ecosystem. As a sustainable and equitable planning champion, Mayor Nirenberg continues to encourage and support the Planning Department’s mission to collaboratively guide growth and development to protect our city’s history and resources and promote an equitable and sustainable city accessible to all San Antonians.

View nomination

Planning Advocate Award

Jason Laumer

This award honors an individual, appointed, or elected official who has advanced or promoted the cause of planning in the public arena. 

Jason Laumer, former city manager of Celina and an engineer by trade, prioritized twenty (25) years’ worth of long-range planning initiatives in his first few years as City Manager for the fastest growing city in Texas. Knowing the impact that nearly 3,000 new single-family homes per year can have on a small community that has and an ultimate growth boundary of 78 square miles and an estimated build-out population of 378,000 people, the following plans were accomplished by Celina during his tenure:

• Subdivision Ordinance re-write (2018) • Downtown Master Plan (2019) • Master Trails Plan (2019) • Zoning Ordinance re-write (2019) • Life Connected logo (2019) • Tree City USA (2019) • Master Parks Plan (2020) • Neighborhood Vision Book (2020) • Scenic City (platinum 2020) • Downtown Logo (2020) • Comprehensive Plan (2021) • Commercial & Multi-Family Guidelines (2023) Among the most unique plans is the Neighborhood Vision Book (NVB), which helps inform developers on how to meaningfully incorporate open space and amenities into new development, so that neighborhoods are created and not just subdivisions. The NVB is an assertive approach that ensures that new residents have places to assemble, meet their neighbors, and experience life together. Life Connected is the City’s official moto, but it’s more than just a tagline. It includes how fiber is available to every neighborhood in Celina, how Celina’s trail system at build-out will be the largest in Texas, and how the downtown remains the heart of the community.

View nomination

Community of the Year Award

City of Borger

Located 50 miles north of Amarillo, with a population of 13,000, Borger is optimistic about its future, as evidenced by several recent significant investments. In 2017, after decades of fluctuating population and wealth, the City began to really look ahead, with $33 million put toward new water infrastructure. In 2018, the City adopted a Strategic Plan with Five Strategic Pillars: 1. Community Involvement 2. Entertainment Events 3. Housing 4. Industry Diversification 5. Infrastructure In 2019, the City retained Kendig Keast Collaborative (KKC) to crati four policy and regulatory documents. Those documents are: a Comprehensive Plan (Boomtown 2040); a Parks, Trails, and Recreation Master Plan; a Downtown Revitalization Plan; and a Unified Land Development Ordinance (ULDO). KKC’s Comprehensive Plan engagement process distilled the voices of the citizens into several Guiding Principles including confidence in the future, a welcoming atmosphere, and patience as the City positions itself for a new era and reality. The Downtown Plan and the Parks Plan build on these findings with the goals of reviving the Downtown into a diverse and resilient locale, and maintaining green areas that offer equal access and are designed with efficiency and conservation in mind. As a final piece of the policy and regulatory puzzle, the City adopted the ULDO in July 2022. The Ordinance contains zoning districts that maintain and create community character across the spectrum from Rural to Suburban to Downtown to Corridor Mixed-Use. In addition, the ULDO rewards the kind of development recommended in the planning documents by providing density bonuses for developments that locate near existing parks or that make use of alley access for a more walkable, inviting streetscape. These documents have already contributed to Borger wining over $900,00 in grant money for downtown and park improvements and they will continue guiding Borger’s resurgence for years to come.

Texas Chapter Award

Legislative Advocacy Committee

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

Legacy Project Winners


Texas Planning Legend Award

Phyllis Jarrell, AICP

Dan Sefko, FAICP

Chapter President's Award

Planning Achievement Awards

In addition to the planning awards, the jury also selected achievement award recipients for 2023. These awards recognize good planning work. Achievement award recipients are collectively recognized at the Texas planning awards ceremony.

Best Practice
This award is for a specific planning tool, practice, program, project, or process. This category emphasizes results and demonstrates how innovative and state-of-the-art planning methods and practices help to create communities of lasting value.

Environmental Planning
This award honors efforts to create more sustainable and greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality.

Grass Roots Initiative
Honoring an initiative that illustrates how a neighborhood, community group or other local non-governmental entity utilized the planning process to address a specific need or issue within the community.

Recognizing an effort that demonstrates a significant achievement for an area—a single community or a region—in accomplishing positive changes as a result of planning.

Public Outreach

This award honors an individual, project, or program that uses information and education about the value of planning to create greater awareness among citizens or specific segments of the public. The award celebrates how planning improves a community’s quality of life.


This award recognizes a strategy that increases the ability of a community to recover from and adapt to shocks and stresses (natural disasters, human-caused disasters, climate change, etc.), resulting in it becoming stronger and better prepared than ever before.

Transportation Planning

This award honors efforts to increase transportation choices for all populations, reducing dependence on private automobiles and helping to ease congestion and reducing climate change impacts.

Historic Preservation
This award recognizes a planning project, initiative, or endeavor that is historically significant and that may be used or accessed by the public.

Urban Design

This award honors efforts to create a sense of place, whether a street, public space, neighborhood, or campus effort

Economic Development

This award honors economic development efforts