Note from PlannersWeb Editor Wayne Senville: I’m very pleased that Elaine Cogan is back with us … with a new column, “In the Planning Commissioner’s Corner.” What Elaine most wants to do in her column is respond to your questions, and — we hope — get some online dialogue going.
For those of you who don’t know Elaine, she brings over 36 years’ of experience in working with citizen planners. Use the previous link to browse through the dozens of articles she wrote for the Planning Commissioners Journal over some 18 years. As a PlannersWeb member, you can also download a complimentary pdf of Elaine’s excellent booklet, Now that You’re On Board: How to Survive … and Thrive … as a Planning Commissioner.
So you’re new on the board! Now, what do you do?
You may have been appointed to fit a certain slot … developer, citizen, architect, etc. or because you are a well respected member of the community, or even a friend of the mayor.
Whatever the reason, you are now the newest member of your community’s planning commission or board. You will quickly realize there is much to learn, particularly the planning jargon the staff and more knowledgeable commission members toss around at will.
As you begin to attend meetings, you will find that although many parts of the agenda are routine, there soon is likely to be a controversial or contentious matter on which there are strong opinions, both from the members and the public. Or perhaps the controversy has been raging for some time and you come in the middle of it and are expected to have an opinion. As a first time citizen decision maker, you may be uneasy having to discuss your points of view or make decisions in front of the public.
You want to be effective. What are the most important matters you should consider?