Excellence in Small Town and Rural Planning

Deadline: January 8, 2017

The Small Town and Rural (STaR) Planning Division invites nominations for its Division Planning Awards to recognize outstanding individuals and projects for their contribution to planning excellence in small town and rural communities. The program is open to any individual, organization, or consulting firm involved in planning for small town and rural areas. Building off of the Facilitated Discussion at the 2014 National Conference, a small town is not defined by any one characteristic or a specific population number — if you consider your work in a small town or rural area, please apply!

Award recipients will receive the award, a one-year membership in the STAR Division, and will receive some reimbursement of travel, lodging and/or registration expenses for public sector or academic employees to attend the APA National Planning Conference. Additional copies of the award may be ordered for support staff and consultants at a nominal cost.

The categories are:

Small Town and Rural Planner

Given to an individual in public service, academia, or the private sector that has made an outstanding contribution to planning in their community.

Comprehensive Plan or Special Project Plan

Given to an outstanding comprehensive plan or special project plan that addressed the development of a neighborhood, community, county, or region.

Planning Initiative

Given to an outstanding initiative or program in public education, workshops, ordinances, or enforcement that promotes planning in small towns and rural areas.

Student Project

Given to an outstanding project by a graduate or undergraduate class or individual that addresses a planning issue facing small town or rural areas.

Members of the Awards Committee (and their organizations) are not eligible for an award. Nominated plans, projects, programs and studies must have been completed within two years of the nomination submittal date. For Comprehensive Plans and Special Project Plans prepared by consultants, the award recipient shall be the client for whom the planning activity was conducted.

Awards Committee

The STaR Executive Committee has appointed a five-member Awards Committee responsible for evaluating award nominees. All awards will be made at the sole discretion of the Awards Committee. The Committee may grant more than one award in each category.

The Awards Committee will use the following criteria in its consideration of award nominees:

  • Innovation
  • Quality
  • Measurable results and implementation
  • Role of Elected Officials
  • Transferability
  • Collaboration/Public Involvement
  • Long-Term Sustainability and/or use of Smart Growth Principles

Nomination Procedures

Submission must be in electronic form (pdf file format) and may be made via e-mail, Dropbox (or similar file sharing site), FTP site, or a mailed USB drive or CD-ROM.

A complete nomination package includes the following:

  • Awards Entry Form
  • A Summary Statement indicating why the nominee merits the award
  • The plan or project report being nominated, or a resume/biography of the individual being nominated (Carol Thomas Award)
  • Letters in support of the nomination
  • Any supporting reports, plans, articles, newsletters, or other supporting documentation (CD-ROM is an acceptable format)
  • A check for the nomination fee made payable to APA STaR Division: $25 if nomination is made by Division member, $100 if nomination is made by a nonmember
  • A copy of a prepared news release with forwarding address

Submit Completed Electronic Entry Packets and Mail Checks to:

STaR Awards Committee c/o Bill Lavers
Harrison County Development Commission
12281 Intraplex Parkway
Gulfport, MS 39503
Phone: 228-896-5020

Awards recipients will be notified in February and invited to receive their award at the Division Business Meeting and Reception at the APA National Planning Conference. As a public sector or academic award recipient, the Division will pay some reimbursement of travel, lodging and/or registration expenses to attend the Division reception. The Division will make other arrangements to present awards to recipients who are unable to attend the Conference.


For further information, contact Bill Lavers, at 228-896-5020 or blavers@mscoast.org.

Previous Awards Recipients

Previous Small Town and Rural Planning Division Award recipients