For communities looking to recruit and appoint new members to their Planning Commission, be sure ordinances outline the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of those serving on the Planning Commission. Be sure applicants understand, before they are appointed, that the Planning Commission serves as an advisory body, intended to aid elected officials in making the best possible choices for your community.
Does the Planning Commission have the appropriate number of members? Remember balance is key – there should be enough members serving on the Planning Commission to ensure your community’s residents are represented equally and fairly in matters heard. It is also important to ensure that you have an adequate number of Commissioners/alternates available so that you do not have to delay land use applicants due to quorum issues.
It is important for the Planning Commission to hold regular training sessions, as well as request joint work sessions with the community’s legislative body. It is important for both bodies to stay relevant with each other and also to remain on the same page as far as land use is concerned. Regular training sessions also help to ensure that all Planning Commissioners understand their roles and responsibilities in various types of land use applications.
Don’t forget about your Planning Commission alternates! If your community chooses to have them, alternates should always be included in training, joint work sessions, etc. Also, alternates should attend Planning Commission meetings regularly, regardless of whether they are serving on the Commission that evening or not. Alternatives need to be aware of all discussions had by regular Planning Commissioners during meetings so they can seamlessly fill in at meetings when needed. Otherwise they can cause inconsistencies in meeting procedures and hearings.
Don’t be afraid to include standards for attendance for members of the Planning Commission, so if by chance you have a Planning Commissioner who has become disengaged, you can easily replace them with someone more willing / available to serve.