How to Write Planning Commission Meeting Minutes (Step-by-Step)

Planning commissions play a key in promoting the orderly growth and development of a city and improving the general well-being of the community. They do this by acting as an advisory board to the municipal governing body on matters and policies related to land use regulation, planning, and development. 

To effectively execute its mandate, a planning commission needs to hold productive meetings and record accurate meeting minutes. One way they can achieve this feat is by using meeting management solutions

This post will guide you on how to write planning commission minutes and how a software solution for local governments with meeting management capability can help improve the effectiveness of your meeting and minutes taking. 

What is a Planning Commission? 

A planning commission is a locally elected board responsible for setting and managing various policies and plans designed to promote the orderly growth and development of a city, municipality, or county. It provides citizen review and recommendations on planning and development-related matters to the town, county, city council, or county board of commissioners. 

In short, a planning commission is a permanent committee (and not a standing committee) whose fundamental purpose is to act as an advisory board to the governing body on issues and policies pertaining to planning and development.

A planning commission’s responsibilities encompass different types of civic engagement initiatives, including: 

  • Making recommendations to the governing body pertaining to the adoption or amendment of an official map. 
  • Holding public hearings on and acting upon zoning ordinances, conditional use permits, and maps. 
  • Preparing and presenting the governing body with a building and housing code.
  • Preparing and presenting an environmental study to the governing body.

Planning commissions hold meetings regularly to discuss ways of effectively executing their tasks. They also hold meetings with the public to learn the local community’s opinion on various matters. Moreover, they participate in city council meetings to present their recommendations on different planning and development initiatives to the city council. Whether a planning commission is holding an in-house meeting or meeting with other stakeholders, the meetings require follow-up in order to be effective.

What are Planning Commission Meeting Minutes? 

Planning commission meeting minutes are notes recorded during a planning commission meeting, highlighting the key issues discussed, motions proposed or voted on, and the activities to be undertaken. These minutes are often taken by a designated person, usually a member of the commission. Their task is to provide an accurate account of what transpired during the meeting. 

Planning commission meeting minutes are a useful document for planning the commission’s activities and measuring the progress of its initiatives. As such, ineffective meeting minutes may derail the success of a planning commission. This is because ineffective meeting minutes may have gaps in what was discussed, and some of the activities voted on by members may not be recorded accurately. And without recording follow-ups and designating a person for each task, they likely won’t get done.

How to Take Meeting Minutes 

Meeting minutes are vital for accountability and productivity. As such, they should be recorded accurately. Include the following when writing meeting minutes: 

1. Name of Person Taking Notes 

While everyone in a meeting is free to take their own notes, one person takes the official notes. The notes taken by this individual serve as the source of truth. 

That said, the note-taker’s name should be included in the minutes so members can know who to turn to for clarification on anything they don’t understand. 

2. Date, Time, and Location 

Note the date, time, and location of the meeting within the minutes. Recording these details allows members to review previous meetings and understand when they took place, what was accomplished, and what is still pending. 

3. Meeting Participants 

Document the names of all participants and any other members who couldn’t attend the meeting. You can use the calendar invite to check names as participants join the meeting or enter the room. Suppose you use a meeting management solution such as eScribe; the date and meeting participants will automatically be recorded in the agenda. 

4. Meeting Purposes

Be as detailed as possible in explaining why the meeting was held and what it was trying to achieve. Recording the purpose of the meeting can be important for anyone using the outcomes of the meeting to make a decision and for anyone who was unable to attend the meeting. 

5. Meeting Summary 

The meeting summary provides anyone who wants to read the minutes with a download of what took place during the meeting. 

6. Meeting Decisions 

Productive meetings usually result in the assigning of action items to various participants. Ensure you record all action items and decisions as soon as they happen so you can transcribe them accurately later. 

While it’s impossible to capture everything, ensure you capture the key points. Listen for action items that should be made in relation to key decisions, recommendations, or solutions identified. 

7. Store Meeting Minutes 

Meeting minutes are important for a planning commission. The members can review them to assess the success of their initiatives, the efficacy of their decisions, and the effectiveness of team members in executing their action items. As such, it’s crucial to store meeting minutes properly. A board management solution allows users to securely store and manage meeting minutes in an accessible location. 

Meeting Minutes Made Simple with eScribe 

Technology helps improve the effectiveness of a planning commission by enhancing communication and automating various processes. 

eScribe is a meeting management solution specially designed to help local governments, commissions, and committees hold effective meetings by automating time-consuming manual processes, such as minute-taking. Besides having flexible and affordable pricing, eScribe offers excellent features that allow you to hold effective meetings. Here’s a look at some of them: 

  • 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.