4. Conduct a Site Visit
After an application for a development project has been filed, but before the public hearing, many planning commissions conduct a site visit. Besides the benefits this provides commissioners in being able to better visualize the proposal, it can also serve as a vehicle for resolving — or at least understanding — neighbors’ concerns.
Site visits call for staff or the Chair to go over the “ground rules” right at the start of the walk, and then make sure that discussions take place only when everyone in the group is together. Care must be taken to avoid unlawful “ex parte” communications during the site visit.
- Site Visits: Necessary But Tricky, by Greg Dale, FAICP (from Planning Comm’rs Journal) — note: Burlington, Vermont, Site Visit Guidelines are included in a sidebar.
- Burlington, Vermont, Site Visit Guidelines (pdf). Note: these guidelines are included as a sidebar in the Site Visits article listed above.
- City of Saratoga, California, Site Visit Agenda (Oct. 13, 2009)
- Interesting discussion by members of Dover, Delaware, Planning Commission on ethical issues, including conduct of site visits (pdf).
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