What is a Planning Commission?
Early in the history of zoning, it was recognized that when reviewing zoning and land use matters, elected officials needed input from a group of individuals who were not affected by political concerns. Having a group of interested volunteers judge land use decisions for the community was intended to allow a wide range of views to be fairly represented.
Elected officials are representatives for the people in the community. As such, they are accountable to the voters. As a planning commissioner, on the other hand, you are a representative of the people. This means that the members of the commission represent the various interests found in the community, such as professionals, business owners and homemakers.
The planning commission was originally given the responsibility of writing and adopting the master plan for the community. In 2002, this requirement was changed to require more involvement by the legislative body in the planning a adoption process. The planning commission remains the authors of the first draft of the zoning ordinance. this ensures a direct connection between the master plan and zoning ordinance.
By far the greatest responsibility of the commission is to provide guidance for land use and development in the community. A properly developed, well thought-out master plan and an effective zoning ordinance can be of great value to a community. They provide an improved quality of life, more efficient use of financial and other resources, a cleaner environment and an economically healthy community.
Both the master plan and the zoning ordinance should be consistently and accurately followed to make sure they are applied fairly and consistently to those they affect. Together they are valuable tools in building the kind of community we want.