Across the country, communities rely on their planning commissions for guidance. But who guides the planning commissioners?
This step-by-step guidebook gets new commissioners off on the right foot and helps experienced commission members navigate their roles. The authors, all practicing planners, have worked extensively with planning commissions for decades. They have watched commissioners scramble up a steep learning curve, sit in the hot seat of controversy, and strive to make sound decisions for the places they call home.
In this helpful handbook, the authors share ideas, insights, and information to help commissioners succeed. Eight detailed chapters cover everything from the nuts and bolts of development applications to the nuances of legal issues to the part commissioners play in long-range planning. Readers will learn how to prepare for their first commission meeting, review a development plan, invite productive public input, and steer clear of ethical dilemmas.
Added resources include a glossary of planning terms, a list of training resources, and the American Planning Association's Statement of Ethical Principles in Planning. For anyone serving on a planning commission, The Planning Commissioners Guide is essential reading.
About the Authors
C. Gregory Dale, FAICP
Benjamin A. Herman, FAICP
Anne F. McBride, FAICP
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Roles and Responsibilities of the Planning Commissioner
Long Range Planning - Imagining the Future
Planning Commission Authority
Governing Body (Elected Officials)
Board of Adjustment
Advisory Boards and Commissions
Chapter 2: The Planning Commissioner's Role in Long-Range Planning
Why Do We Plan?
What are we Hoping to Accomplish When We Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan
How a Comprehensive Plan Should Be Used
Preparing the Plan
Your Role as a Planning Commissioner in the Planning Process
Other Types of Plans
Sustainability and Comprehensive Plans
Chapter 3: Preparing for your Role as a Planning Commissioner
What is Expected of You as a Commissioner?
What You Should Expect From Staff
What Should Be Expected From the Applicant
How to Prepare to be a Commissioner
Meet the Staff
Obtain and Review Relevant Documents
Get to Know How the Commission Functions
How to Prepare for Your First Planning Commission Meeting
Chapter 4: Information Available to the Commission
General Planning and Zoning Information
Commission Bylaws Robert's Rules of Order
Corridor/Focus Area Plans
Design Standards and Guidelines
Development Application Information
Chapter 5: Plan Review
Development Application Package
Existing Conditions Plan
Stormwater Management and Sedimentation Control Plan
Chapter 6: Running Meetings
Know Your Job
The Right Space: Room Layout
First Impressions: Hand Outs and Sign-In Sheet
Meeting Leadership: The Role of the Chairperson
Getting Off on the Right Foot: Opening the Meeting
Image and Impression: Comportment and Attentiveness
Two Stages of a Meeting: Fact Finding and Deliberation
Chapter 7: Decision-Making Principles
Why is this Important?
Due Process For Planning Commissioners
Opportunity to be Heard
Findings of Fact
Chapter 8: Ethics
The Ethical Principles
American Planning Association Statement of Ethical Principles in Planning
Applying the Principles — Scenarios
Conflicts of Interest
Fair Processes and Procedures
Personal Biases and Their Ethical Implications
Behind the Scenes Advocacy
The Credibility of Information
Giving and Receiving Gifts
A Commission's Approach to Dealing with "Notorious" Applicants
Practicing as an Independent and Informed Member of the Commission
Making Your Opinion Known as an Individual — What Are the Boundaries?