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Making Planning Commissions More Effective

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Voluntary citizen participation has long been a hallmark of local government in the United States. In most cities and counties, planning commissions are easily the most visible, influential, and controversial of all local citizen advisory groups. This short commentary will offer suggestions — in the form of a checklist — for making commissions more effective.

Webster’s defines “effective” as being “ready for service or action,” or “producing or capable of producing a result.” Commissions must possess certain organizational and operational characteristics if either individual commissioners or commissions are to be effective. The following is a brief list of what I’ve found to be the most important characteristics of effective, successful planning commissions. …

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