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21st Century Planning Commission

A panel of presenters — including the authors of the new Planning Commissioners Guide — gives diverse perspectives and practical pointers for new planning commissioners and veterans alike.

Published by American Planning Association, 2013

Format: Streaming Media, 375 minutes

Planning commissioners help drive the future of their communities. Need help getting up to speed? Turn to this daylong training program from APA’s 2013 National Planning Conference. Part one looks at what planning commissioners do and the ethics of how they do it. Part two maps out vital issues on the planning landscape. A panel of presenters — including the authors of the new Planning Commissioners Guide — gives diverse perspectives and practical pointers for new commissioners and veterans alike.

Co-sponsor: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Presentation Details

1. Overview of the Planning Process
An overview of roles and responsibilities and an introduction to the documents, tools, and procedures that planning commissioners use in carrying out their responsibilities.

Topics include: 1. Roles and responsibilities of a planning commissioner • Long-range planning • Development review • Planning commission authority • Staff roles and responsibilities 2. Long-range planning – Imagining the Future • Why do we plan? • What is a comprehensive plan? • How a plan is prepared • Other types of plans • Planning commissioners role in plan-making 3. Development Review • How the process works • Role of the planning commission • Role of staff and other participants • Unraveling the development application 4. Tools and Building Blocks of Planning • Plans • Zoning ordinance • Subdivision regulations • Design standards 5. Engaging the Community • Role of the public in the planning process 6. Putting the Pieces Together
Ben A. Herman. FAICP, Clarion Associates
Anne McBride, FAICP, McBride Dale Clarion

2. Defensible, Ethical Decision Making
Defensible and ethical decisions do not occur simply by the way a commission votes on a particular application. Learn how to ensure you have a framework in place to guide your actions and decisions in a manner that leads to fair and reasonable actions. Examine how appropriate rules, regulations and procedures can shape your final decisions. Review the significance of meeting conduct, the creation of the record and the importance of findings of fact.

Gain knowledge from experienced planning commissioners and planners on key points that will assist commissioners to write and vote on clear, fair and defensible decisions. This includes criteria that should be included in your zoning regulations and commissioner rules and regulations, consideration of appropriate conditions to impose in the decision and writing tips for the decision itself.
Robert P. Mitchell, FAICP
W. Shedrick Coleman, Chatham County-Savannah MPC

3. How to Conduct a Planning Commission Meeting
Learn the nuts and bolts of the decision-making process. This session focuses on how commissions and boards can better make fair, reasonable, and defensible decisions. It discusses decision-making practices for planning and zoning commissions and covers the ways in which large and contentious crowds can be managed in a public hearing environment, the legal principles underlying decision making, how to encourage appropriate testimony, how to deliberate fairly, how to make motions, and tips for running meetings. The speaker provides perspectives from both a planning and legal perspective. Practical application of legal due process is emphasized.
C. Gregory Dale, FAICP, McBride Dale Clarion

4. Legal Framework for the Planning Commission
The planning commission conducts its work within the framework of state law and specific federal statutes. It makes decisions within the context of local plans, codes and guidelines. Learn what the framework is and how it applies to your community and commission. You will also explore pertinent case law that has influenced the way planning is implemented. It is critical for all commissioners to understand their authority and responsibility and to know how the landscape of planning and land-use changes over time.
David Therique

5. Current Issues in Planning for Commissioners
This session provides a series of short overviews of critical and current issues in planning. It is ideal for new planning commissioners as it introduces them to terms and concepts such as sustainability. The session begins with an overview on the economy and how it affects and will continue to affect community planning. Planning commissioners will become familiar with concepts that are in current use in planning, such as sustainability, smart growth, and health impact assessments. They will learn what they are, how they relate to planning, and the role the planning commission may play in furthering these programs.
Robert W. Burchell, Rutgers University

Group Viewing: Training products for planning commissioners and the public may be used for group viewing.

Ben A. Herman, FAICP, Clarion Associates; Anne McBride, FAICP, McBride Dale Clarion; Robert P. Mitchell, FAICP; W. Shedrick Coleman, Chatham County-Savannah MPC; Laurie Marston, AICP; David A. Theriaque, Theriaque Vorbeck & Spain; C. Gregory Dale, FAICP, McBride Dale Clarion; Robert W. Burchell, Ph.D., PP; Anton Nelessen, B. Arch, MCP; Clinton Andrews, Ph. D., AICP; Joseph Burgis, MCRP, AICP

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