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Though planning processes vary among communities, the commonality we probably share is the belief that government has a role in planning and managing orderly growth. The difference is in the details. How do planning commissions and commissioners view their roles in the process?
This is more than an esoteric issue, for how you perceive yourselves individually and as a unit underlies how and why you make decisions. It also can be a basis for explaining your actions to elected officials and citizens.
One way of looking at the question is to ask whether you view your role primarily as that of: (1) a defender of the status quo; (2) a citizen voice in the planning process; or (3) an advocate for planning principles or a particular planning style? Assuming that most of you would answer you are "a little bit of this and a little bit of that," the question still is relevant: what are you most of the time? ...
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Elaine 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.