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The Planning Commission at Work

Decision Making

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Depending upon your age, you may recall learning how to diagram sentences. I was exposed to the concept while in eighth grade. In that year, JFK was President; the Yankees were World Champions; and somebody named John Glenn had just flown around the world in a space capsule. With all this excitement, I thought little or no value could possibly come from knowing how to diagram sentences. Of course, my decision not to pay attention came back to haunt me five years later during freshman English!

What connection, you might ask, exists between decision making and diagramming sentences? The answer can be found in the analytical framework underpinning each practice. Just as a sentence can be dissected into component parts, so can a planning commission decision. One approach I have found useful is to consider decision making according to its substance, form, and function.

Imagine your planning commission has been asked to rezone a parcel of land from, say, agricultural to commercial use. What kind of questions do you need answers to under your zoning and land use regulations before you make your decision? ...

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photo of Michael ChandlerMichael Chandler is a planning consultant based in Richmond, Virginia. He is a former Professor and Community Planning Extension Specialist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, and co-founder of the Virginia Institute for Planning Commissioners. Chandler has for many years conducted planning commissioner training programs across the country, and is a frequent speaker at planning workshops.

From 1992 to 2003 Chandler wrote “The Planning Commission at Work” column for the Planning Commissioners Journal, covering topics ranging from comp plan development to meeting management.

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