Urban Fold

The Do's and Don'ts for Serving on a Planning Commission

Professional planners can be a great resource for staffing local planning and zoning commissions (especially in smaller communities). That is, of course, as long as they can manage to wear both hats without conflict.
Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr

"It’s not often planning commissions get volunteers to offer the level of expertise on land use matters like the kind  professional planners bring," says Mark Apel, who offers 7 tips for professional planners to observe when serving on a local planning and zoning commission. Why serve? Not only are you providing a great contribution to your community, but the experience lets planners "see things from the other side of the table, so to speak. This is true in terms of better understanding your community’s staff limitations as well as having a more personal stake in the decisions you make for your community."

In his op-ed, Apel details the following pointers for professional planners who wear both hats:

  1. Don’t make assumptions about the planning staff
  2. Do give specific examples
  3. Do refer to the community plan
  4. Don’t assume that you have all the answers
  5. Don’t jump on the soapbox
  6. Don’t communicate when not on the public record
  7. Do look for training opportunities
Full Story: Wearing two hats? Seven tips for planners when serving on the planning and zoning commission

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