In response to: Planning in Rural America. posted by Planning with the old boys on October 25, 1999 at 12:11:20:

Good planning has to bend to the popular political will in our system. It's one of the basic tenets of American planning. Most all American planning models have this balance between the professional planners on one end and the popularly elected officials on the other. Ultimately, the popular side has to be the dominant of the two.

I'm just glad that 80 years ago when this model was created someone had the foresight to include the professionals in the equation and not just leave things up to the elected officials. This is partly because planning developed at a time of political reform when reformers were concerned about the "big boss" and "smoke-filled room" politics that dominated so much of local government, but I digress.

The plan commission is supposed to be the fulcrum in this balance between the professionals and the people (or their properly elected representatives). The commission is supposed to kind of combine the professional's opinions with the popular political will, since they themselves are products of that will as appointees of elected officials.

I recommend you try and gauge where your plan commission sits in that spectrum between you and the city council. Are they more concerned with the popular political opinion or with the recommendation of professionals? If they are the former, remind them that they are to try and balance the two, and not let any one dominate. They should try and combine, even synergize, the two when possible, and only pick one over the other when no other option remains. Remind them that they make recommendations, and that it's ok to recommend something the city council will overrule them on. That's part of their job too.

If the planning commission does its job well, it should understand both your position and the popular opinion.

Good Luck!