Keeping Things in Order: Planning Commission Model By-Laws

April 15th, 1994
Article #541

Read an excerpt from this article below. You can download the full article by using the link at the end of the excerpt.
Come to Order illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb.com
illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb

During my training sessions for planning commissioners, I am often asked procedural questions. Seeking to stimulate discussion, my initial response has always been "What do your by-laws say?" I reluctantly report that in many cases my inquiry has been unanswered. There are some planning commissions whose by-laws are silent on important matters. Other planning commissions simply cannot find their by-laws. A surprising number of planning commissions have never adopted by-laws.

I recognize that members of planning commission are reluctant to undertake so dry and tedious an activity as constructing a set of by-laws. I encourage planning commissions to consider by-laws creation in much the same way as a vaccination: trading short-term discomfort for the increased assurance of long-term security. I hope the outline of a set of planning commission by-laws which is set out on the following pages will help ease any short-term discomfort you might otherwise have.

In addition to addressing the concerns I have already mentioned, the outline deals with four other important issues: (1) that by-laws be consistent with state constitutions, relevant state statutes, state planning enabling legislation, and possible municipal charter provisions; (2) that by-laws be written so as to be comprehensible to members of the planning commission and the public; (3) that gender neutral language be used; and (4) that direct reliance upon Robert's Rules of Order, Revised be reduced by tailoring procedures to the specific needs of a planning commission. ...

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