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Public Hearings Resource Guide – part 8

8. Stay on Target

Planning commission meetings can go more smoothly, and take less time, when applicants clearly describe their project and how it meets the land use ordinance’s review criteria. While the quality of the presentation is largely out of the commission’s hands, planning staff can help ensure that pertinent, helpful information is provided.

illustration by Marc Hughes of Chair of a Commission by two people arguingPublic confusion and anger at meetings can be reduced when staff provide a clear summary of the project, an explanation of the relevant review criteria, and, if it’s your community’s practice, their recommendations on how the project meets or fails to meet these criteria.

The Chair of the planning commission can also play a key role in ensuring that the meeting stays on target, and that members of the public, the applicant — and fellow commissioners — keep their comments focused on relevant issues.

Online Resources:

  • Carol Whitlock, “Chairing the Planning Commission.” In this Planning Commissioners Journal article, a long-time planning commission chair offers her insights on ways to run fair and effective commission meetings and hearings.
  • Elaine Cogan, “Leading the Commission.” On understanding the role of the chair; and ways a chair can exert effective leadership. From the Planning Commissioners Journal’s archives

We welcome your comments and/or suggestions for additional resources we might list. Email them to us at: Also, let us know us if any link is not working.