How to Host a Planning Commission Meeting (Step-by-Step Guide)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • May 5, 2023

Hosting an effective planning commission meeting is an essential part of local governance. These meetings allow city officials and community members to come together to discuss and make decisions about issues related to land use, zoning, and other critical factors affecting the community’s growth and development. 

Planning commission meetings play a vital role in shaping the future of a city or town, and it’s essential to ensure they are conducted efficiently and effectively. With the help of software solutions for local government, hosting a successful meeting has become easier than ever before. Read on to learn what it takes.

What is a Planning Commission?

A planning commission is a standing committee of appointed or elected officials responsible for guiding land use and development within a specific jurisdiction. The commission works in partnership with local government officials, staff, and community members to develop policies and plans that promote orderly and sustainable growth within the community. 

The planning commission reviews and approves various development-related proposals, such as rezoning requests, land use plans, and subdivision plans. The meetings are public hearings, allowing community members to voice their opinions and concerns regarding proposed development projects.

Why is the Planning Commission Important?

The planning commission plays a critical role in shaping the future of a community by guiding land use and development.

Here are some reasons why the planning commission is essential:

  • Promotes sustainable community growth and development, including balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations to ensure sustainable development in the long term.
  • Encourages public participation, allowing community members to voice their opinions and concerns regarding proposed development projects. 
  • Ensures compatibility with existing development to maintain the community’s character and prevent incompatible uses from negatively impacting the surrounding areas.
  • Reviews and approves development proposals, such as subdivision plans, rezoning requests, and land use plans to ensure the projects are consistent with the community’s overall vision and objectives.
  • Facilitates economic development by guiding development strategically to source new businesses and industries, creating job opportunities, and stimulating economic growth.

The planning commission also plays a critical role in the city council meeting by providing recommendations and analysis related to development issues. The relayed information helps city council members make informed decisions on behalf of the community.

Hosting effective planning commission meetings is vital, as it encourages different types of civic engagement, including citizen participation in public meetings. This strategy allows community members to voice their concerns regarding proposed development projects.

By providing a platform for public input, these meetings build trust between the community and local government. Effective meetings can also improve decision-making by allowing a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand. 

How to Host an Effective Planning Commission Meeting

Effective planning commission meetings are critical in ensuring development is well-planned, meets community needs, and is conducted transparently and sustainably. 

Hosting effective planning commission meetings is also essential for promoting various civic engagement examples, such as providing opportunities for public input and involvement in the decision-making.

Here are some tips on how to host an effective planning commission meeting:

1. Coordinate with Members in Advance of the Meeting

Before hosting a planning commission meeting, it’s vital to coordinate with all members in advance. This includes communicating the meeting date and time, gathering necessary materials or presentations, and setting a clear agenda for the meeting. Prior preparation helps ensure all members are prepared, and the session runs smoothly.

2. Build and Distribute a Meeting Agenda

Creating a clear and comprehensive meeting agenda is essential for a successful planning commission meeting. The agenda should include a list of the topics to be discussed and the amount of time allocated for each item. Distributing the plan to all members before the meeting helps ensure the meeting stays on track.

3. Capture Accurate Meeting Minutes

Accurate meeting minutes are vital for tracking decisions discussed during the meeting and assigning follow-up tasks. Appointing a designated note-taker or recording the session helps ensure all key points are captured. Minutes should be distributed to all members promptly after the meeting.

4. Allocate an Appropriate Amount of Time for Each Speaker

When scheduling a planning commission meeting, allocate appropriate time for each speaker. This ensures all relevant points are discussed, and members have adequate time to ask questions and provide input. If necessary, setting time limits for each speaker can help keep the meeting on track.

5. Send Post-Meeting Action Items

Following the meeting, send post-meeting action items to all members. Include a list of action items, deadlines, and all other relevant information. Sending post-meeting action items helps to ensure all members are on the same page and that progress is being made toward the goals discussed during the meeting.

eScribe Powers Effective Planning Commission Meetings

Technology improves the effectiveness of planning commission meetings through meeting management software like eScribe. eScribe streamlines the planning process, improves collaboration, and ensures meetings are transparent and accessible to the public.

The platform is a comprehensive meeting management software solution that offers the following features (and more):

  • Meeting Manager: Create, share, modify, and collaborate on meeting materials without printing anything or chasing anyone down.
  • Meeting Minutes: Streamlines the capturing of accurate meeting minutes, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring all critical points are noted.
  • Reporting and Workflows: Manage deadlines, track statuses, save time, and handle reports and approvals with ease.
  • Collaboration Tools: Make it easy for planning commission members to work together, regardless of their physical location by providing secure access for searching for and reviewing content, downloading meeting materials, and keeping track of comments, notes, and action items. 

If you’re interested in seeing how eScribe’s features help improve the effectiveness of planning commission meetings, check out the City of Greensboro case study or request a quote for your organization. 

This case study provides a real-world example of how eScribe helped streamline meeting management and improved collaboration for the planning commission in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Purpose of a Planning Commission Meeting?

The purpose of a planning commission meeting is to review proposed land use, zoning, and development plans and to make recommendations to the city council or other governing bodies.

Are Planning Commission Meetings Open to the Public?

Yes, planning commission meetings are open to the public. Many planning commissions actively seek input and involvement from community members, as they recognize the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives into their decision-making process.