Principal Planner / Planning Manager

Planning Job Descriptions

The Principal Planner, also known as Planning Manager or Planner IV, supervises and participates in advanced, highly-complex professional planning activities. Depending on the organization, the Principal Planner often manages and supervises sections or divisions within the larger planning department of an organization.

Furthermore the Principal Planner may function as a deputy for the Planning Director or even serve as Acting Director. In other cases, the Principal Planner may possess a more limited supervisory role and rather function within an organization as the most senior planner with expertise in a particular specialization.

Typical Functions

  • Performs and manages complex and sensitive professional planning projects, research and analysis
  • Monitors and ensures compliance with local, state and federal laws
  • Oversees specialized planning functions such as large-scale new development proposals and environmental studies
  • Provides overall management of division-related planning issues
  • Advises the Planning Director on all planning-related matters
  • Advises various councils, boards, commissions and elected officials in planning-related issues
  • Supervises the Transportation Modeling Division of Planning Department
  • Serves as liaison and performs all necessary functions in support of Planning Commission
  • Assigns work to professional staff and ensures appropriate training is provided
  • Evaluates operations and activities of assigned responsibilities
  • Prepares reports on operations and activities, recommending improvements and modifications
  • Handles sensitive personnel matters
  • Participates in budget preparation and administration, monitors and controls expenditures
  • Attends substantial number of evening and weekend meetings
  • Serves as acting Planning Director in his or her absence

Typical Knowledge

  • Thorough knowledge of urban planning and development and local government policies and procedures
  • Thorough knowledge of specialization such as land use planning/zoning, transportation planning, environmental planning, urban design, housing, , historic preservation or economic development
  • Research methods and statistical principles related to urban growth and development
  • Methods and techniques of effective technical report preparation and presentation
  • Pertinent federal, state and local laws, codes and regulations including recent changes
  • Principles and practices of supervision, training and personnel management
  • Budgeting procedures and techniques
  • Recent developments, current literature and sources of information related to municipal planning and administration.
  • Knowledge of local government procedures and practices
  • Citizen involvement techniques and processes
  • Knowledge of computer programs and applications, which may include Microsoft Office, Internet applications, econometric or transportation modeling, and database management
  • GIS programs and applications

Typical Skills

  • Must be innovative, detail-oriented, experienced in highly visible/controversial projects
  • Capable of managing multiple, high-priority assignments
  • Strong interpersonal skills to develop good working relationships with staff, officials and stakeholders and to resolve complaints
  • Strong analytical skills to interpret research data for reports and apply mathematic techniques in practical situations
  • Reading comprehension to understand technical and legal materials.
  • Ability to work on several projects or issues simultaneously
  • Ability to provide effective supervision and staff management
  • Ability to manage projects effectively and meet firm deadlines
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to manage and conduct in-person and virtual public participation activities, meetings and hearings

Minimum Qualifications

The Principal Planner usually possesses a master's degree in planning or a closely related field and at least five years of experience in the planning profession. Three to four years of supervisory experience is often required. AICP Certification preferred.

Updated May 2021