Planning Officials Training Program

Members: $120
Nonmembers: $200

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This program prepares elected and appointed officials for their role as community representatives by including all the necessary materials to support better development, review processes and decision-making outcomes. The training program includes the breadth of topics needed by commissioners and other audiences working with planners.

The short training videos are organized by topic and grouped into two categories, Essential Skills and Keys to Sound Action; and include cues to look further into State or Local policies as needed.

Essential Skills Videos

  • Roles & Responsibilities (22 minutes):
    Gain a deeper understanding of your role and responsibility as a planning official. Listen as our presenter describes the activities of the planning commission and expectations of planning officials.
  • Managing the Meeting (30 minutes):
    Watch as seasoned veterans share best practices for managing commission public meetings and hearings. Learn tips to establish a welcoming, civil, and ethical process while allowing robust citizen engagement.
  • Staff Reports (30 minutes):
    Learn how to use staff reports and understand the use of the information in these communications. Understand how they are prepared and what detailed and graphic information they contain.
  • Comprehensive Plans (8 minutes):
    A comprehensive plan sets forth a vision, goals for a city's future, and provides the overall foundation for all land use regulation in the city. State law encourages all cities to prepare and implement a comprehensive municipal plan. Learn more about the development and use of comprehensive plans and why they are a valuable resource to planning officials.
  • Zoning & Ordinances (10 minutes):
    Zoning ordinance is a formal categorization of land-use policies applicable to land within a municipality. The zoning ordinance establishes permitted land uses and distinguishes between different land use types. Learn what zoning ordinances are and understand their role in implementing the comprehensive plan as well as ensuring there is adequate space & resources throughout your community.

Keys to Sound Action Videos

  • Findings of Fact (11 minutes):
    Gain a deeper understanding of the importance of making findings of fact during a hearing process, including what they are, how they are used, and the reason you need to make sure your findings of fact align with the standards set forth in your state laws and in the zoning code.
  • Equity in Planning (4 minutes):
    Learn the importance of using equity as a guiding principle throughout the planning process and as a community representative. Review APA's valuable resources and tools available to support planning officials.
  • Ethics in Decision-Making (7 minutes):
    Learn how APA's Ethical Principles in Planning can guide you in your service to the community.
  • Legal Decision-Making (33 minutes):
    Legal, defensible decision making is central to planning official meetings. Listen as legal experts discuss findings of fact, making the record, and the legal context for planning.
  • Procedural Requirements (17 minutes):
    Hear from a seasoned lawyer and a planning professional as they present Open Meetings Act, Conflicts of Interest and Ex Parte Communications to provide you with information that can help you in your role.

Purchase of this program allows the individual purchaser unlimited opportunities to share the materials and video links with their planning officials for up to 2 years from their purchase date.

Communities, towns, villages, and planners that would benefit most from purchasing and using these training materials work with the following groups:

  • Planning Officials (Plan Commission & Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA))
  • Appointed or elected officials
  • Legislative bodies
  • Planning staff working with planning officials
  • APA state chapters conducting planning officials training
  • Professional Development Officers
  • Divisions

This program content was developed by seasoned planners from across the country, all experts in training local planning officials. It is supported and presented by APA, the national organization that is devoted to creating communities of lasting value for everyone.

To build not just better-informed commissioners, but a cohesive and productive commission our program facilitator resources include customizable email templates; PowerPoint slides and resources; a program map that details all program training resources and facilitated discussion questions to further foster engagement between planning officials and expand training opportunities.

The program training objectives for commissioners are to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of their roles & responsibilities
  • Explore meeting management and implement sound practices and techniques
  • Comprehend planning knowledge areas of importance
  • Implement better decision-making methods and approaches