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The Effective Planning Commissioner

Controversial Issues Natural in Planning

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Planning is the local governmental function that touches more lives than nearly any other, with the exception of law enforcement. It should be scant wonder, then, that controversies arise. How you deal with them, not the controversies themselves, is an important measure of your effectiveness.

Stay tuned in to community priorities. The larger the community, the more difficult it is to know just what the "hot buttons"' may be. Still, if the planning board is to deal with issues effectively, it is very important not to be surprised that an action or potential action may be controversial. For example, it is common sense to realize that proposing a road through a well-used natural area will stir up people who have been enjoying it for years and want no change. In other situations, the opposition may be less easy to predict. ...

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photo of Elaine CoganElaine Cogan, founding principal of the Portland, Oregon planning and communications firm of Cogan Owens Cogan, has consulted for more than 36 years with communities undertaking strategic planning and visioning processes. Cogan has been honored for her work on a variety of citizen involvement projects.

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