Commissioners Voice

Planning commissioners share the lessons that they've learned.

The Importance of Training

By Ann Cooke Bagley, FAICP

A Guide to Urban Planning in Texas Communities, first published in 1978, is an extensive collection of articles that cover all aspects of planning in Texas.

Planning's Response to Hurricane Sandy

By James C. Schwab, AICP

How have planners and APA responded to Hurricane Sandy? How do planners contribute? The answer is simple, even if the work to be done is not — rebuilding in more resilient ways.

Are Planning Commissions Becoming Less Relevant

By Marc Yeber

Many planning commissioners believe that our function has less influence in determining outcomes than it did a decade ago.

Glencoe, Illinois: Small Town Sustainability

By Marya Morris, AICP

Like a lot of small towns and suburbs, Glencoe, Illinois, is eager to find ways to promote and support sustainability objectives, both within village government and among residents.

Preparing for Local Elected Office

By Shelly Cook

Why is serving on a planning commission good preparation for local elected office? (Or why planning commissioners should consider taking that next step!)

Welcome to LA and Thank You!

By Bill Roschen

The role we play as planning commissioners may be more important than ever with the complexities of environment, health, transportation, and placemaking combining under the growing canvas of democratic land use and planning.

Creative and Simple Solutions

By W. Shedrick Coleman

What are the duties of the planning board to provide notice to the public for "matter-of-right" petitions? In many areas, such petitions can be approved at a staff level. Otherwise, they may be handled as consent agenda items. Whatever the methodology, they usually provide no vehicle for public input during the approval process.

It's Good to Be Us

By J.H. Rumpp, Jr., AICP

The Town of Contentment (now Dedham), Massachusetts, is quite different today than when it was founded in 1635. Our town's history includes development of the first manmade waterpower canal and construction of an early shopping mall, and it is home to the oldest wood-framed structure in the country.

Affirming Value

By W. Shedrick Coleman

Advice on how planning boards and commissions can reaffirm their value in their communities. 

To Be a Planning Board Member or Not

By Carol J. Thomas, FAICP

Mayors frequently seek local professional planners to serve on local boards and commissions. Is it a good idea? It certainly seems so from the standpoint of the community. A knowledgeable, presumably qualified, and unbiased person serves the public at no cost to the public: in effect, a pro bono consultant. 

The True Market for Smart Growth

By R. Hunter Gee, Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Commission

Communities around the country are talking about smart growth. While many have developed community-driven visions for their future, implementation remains the challenge.

Leadership in Post-Disaster Recovery

By Timothy H. Jackson, AICP, Consulting planner and former member of the New Orleans planning commission

When I was a planning graduate student at the University of New Orleans 20-something years ago, Professor Ralph Thayer gave the class an assignment: Research a topic in the City of New Orleans's Master Plan. For a week the first-semester graduate students searched the city's libraries, city hall, and the city planning commission offices looking for the plan. It was a trick question. The city had no master plan.

A Natural Progression

By Debra March, Planning Commissioner, Henderson, Nevada

Most elected officials say, "I never thought I would become a politician." But somewhere in their lives they decide to get involved. Many times, their service starts as a planning commissioner. That was my transition.

Organizing for Better Design

By John Hedrick, Chair, The Village of Glenview, Illinois, Appearance Commission

After many years on the appearance commission, I found that becoming chair prompted me to review our local processes and to benchmark with neighboring communities.  This sharing of information provided new ideas and valuable guidance to balance a wide range of community design issues and economic development considerations.

Going Beyond Governmental Mandates to Do Real Planning

By Gary Sears, Vice Chair, City of Plant City, Florida, Planning Board

Plant City, Florida, incorporated in 1885, is located approximately 25 miles east of Tampa. Plant City began as an agricultural farm-to-market railroad town and over the years has grown from a rural village to a small urban city whose current population is approximately 34,000.