Planning Commission Boot Camp
Let’s face it. Most planning commission members don’t receive any training in land use planning (read this survey in the article “Improving Your Planning Commission’s Effectiveness“). These generous volunteers deserve better. Turn your planning commission members into superhero planners. Below are some resources that MUST be required reading BEFORE you appoint anyone to your planning commission (this includes VOLUNTEER planning commission members) and BEFORE you hire paid PROFESSIONAL planners, including consultants!
ALWAYS REQUIRE A SITE WALK ON THE PROPERTY-SEE INFORMATION NEAR BOTTOM OF PAGE “CONDUCT A SITE WALK ON THE PROPERTY” AND THE LINK DIRECTLY BELOW (“TOP 10 WAYS TO PRESERVE LAND AND WATER IN YOUR COMMUNITY“)! Click on the images and links below to become a planning superhero:
Land Use Myths (Learn why residential subdivisions are a net LOSS to your community despite the myth “We need the increased tax base.”)
Land Protection Options (Did you know? In some cases buying natural lands and protecting them with a conservation easement may be cheaper or the same cost as what your residents will pay in increased taxes to subsidize new residential subdivisions? Run the numbers. Protected natural lands (forests, meadows, working farms and ranches, lakeshores, etc.) are valuable and the secret weapon to attract new residents, shoppers who spend money, and businesses to your community.)
Excellent op-ed: “Good Intentions Pave Road to Zoning Hell”
DID YOU KNOW?
Most planning commission members and town and city officials only see the proposed land up for development on a sheet of paper and never have stepped foot on the property. The answer for better development?:
Conduct a Site Walk On the Property
Include all involved in the process-the developer, planning commission members, abutting landowners, officials, staff, etc. – BEFORE any engineering plans are put into place in order to point out the conservation areas to be preserved.
Important Note: Site walks should be advertised in the usual manner as informal Work Sessions, open to the public, at which no votes or binding decisions are taken. Site walks do not add more time, as they help the process move far more quickly, since people are no longer talking and arguing about abstract lines on paper, but real slopes, actual trees, etc., which means they really understand the site conditions. There is no substitute whatsoever for seeing the land first-hand. From land planner Randall Arendt.