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The Commission Will Come to Order

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Come to Order illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb.com
illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb

As part of my work, I often observe planning commission meetings. I appreciate the conscientious efforts of members to examine complex aspects of specific issues under the principles of the comprehensive plan, adopted public policy, and development regulation. This is a difficult enough task in itself; yet, under our system of government these processes of deliberation and decision must comply with established procedures.

To structure their efforts, many planning commissions have adopted, and come to rely upon, Robert's Rules of Order, in one or another edition. I doubt, however, that many commissions have either a clear understanding of parliamentary procedure or the ability to effectively apply Robert's Rules.

In this short article, I want to summarize the essential features of parliamentary procedure, and review some of the problems planning boards face in using Robert's Rules. The "Model Outline of Motions for Planning Commissions," which follows this article, seeks to adapt Robert's Rules to better meet the particular needs of today's planning and zoning boards. ...

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