Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Structure of organization

  1. #1
    BANNED
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    downthestreet
    Posts
    94

    Structure of organization

    How does your city structure its planning functions. Do you have a council or strong mayor, is there a planning commission or a BZA, is there long-range and current range and are they in different departments, same department but function independently. How large of city and number on staff. I'm curious to know the organization of various planning department, I have a feeling there is a wide range of setups.

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,534
    In my situation:

    Town of about 26,000
    Town Council/Town Manager Form of Government
    Planning & Economic Development Department
    3 professional Staff (Director, Town Planner, GIS Manager), 1 secretary, summer intern
    Departmental Roles:
    Community Planning:
    • Advisor to the Planning Board
    • Investigate, study, report and recommend on all matters relating to:
      • land use,zoning, traffic, parking, highway, public facilities, population, community development, subdivisions, parks, playgrounds and other phases of town planning
    • Research, review and update the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulation, Site Plan Regulations and Zoning Map
    • Perform all research work which might be assigned by the Manager, Town Council, or Planning Board
    • Develop and implement the various elements of the Master Plan and Capital Improvements Plan
    • Investigate, study and report on all matters relating to the construction of municipal structures

    Economic Development
    • Serve as advisor to the Economic Development Committee
    • Coordinate with the Londonderry Housing and Redevelopment Authority and regional economic development organizations
    • Work to broaden Londonderry’s economic base and achieve economic stability
    • Provide assistance to new and/or relocating companies
    • Assist existing businesses in their expansion efforts

    Who we work with:
    • Boards, Commissions, Committees, Public
    • Planning Board
    • Zoning Board of Adjustments
    • Conservation Commission
    • Heritage Commission
    • Town Council
    • Londonderry Housing and Redevelopment Authority (LHRA)
    • Southern NH Planning Commission
    • Londonderry Trailways
    • NH Dept. of Transportation (NHDOT)
    • Administrative Review Committee (ARC) and Design Review Committee (DRC)
    • Developers
    • Property Owners
    • Regional Organizations
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,080
    An Illinois "village" of 76,000 residents.
    Have the Village Manager/Board of Trustees format
    I am in the Planning & Community Development Department

    We staff:
    • Plan Commission
    • Zoning Board of Appeals
    • Housing Comission
    • Design Commission
    • economic development board
    • Arts Commission

    Our tasks involve:
    • project management for PC & ZBA projects
    • project management for Design Commission projects
    • management of various TIF districts
    • zoning administration (thankfully, no inspections)
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  4. #4
    BANNED
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    downthestreet
    Posts
    94
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    An Illinois "village" of 76,000 residents.
    Have the Village Manager/Board of Trustees format
    I am in the Planning & Community Development Department

    We staff:
    • Plan Commission
    • Zoning Board of Appeals
    • Housing Comission
    • Design Commission
    • economic development board
    • Arts Commission

    Our tasks involve:
    • project management for PC & ZBA projects
    • project management for Design Commission projects
    • management of various TIF districts
    • zoning administration (thankfully, no inspections)

    How many do you have on staff? Is it split between long and current? How does economic development fit into the department, do they have their own specialized staff. Is there any further splitting of responsibilities within current and long?


    My question to be more specific is how planning departments handle their day to day processes. Why kind of structures are developed to handle different types of job functions. The two responses to date are quite different, I believe NHPLANNER is expected to do both long and current planning (pop. 28,000) and mendelman is a current planner and not a long-range planner (76,000). Specialization occurs as populations are larger, to those working for larger municipalities, what organizational strategies have you used to cope with job responsibilities?

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,355
    my town

    about 4,500 year-round residents
    about 30,000 summer population
    about 2 million visitors a year

    my job as planning director is both short and long range planning and permitting -

    i staff all permitting boards, planning committees, assist the Council as the chief elected officials on planning issues - i also am the manager of the comprehensive plan, grants writer, pre-construction planning for public works projects, traffic planning manager with the Police department - it's basically all here, anything remotely to do with planning is mine

    i have one receptionist who also staffs code inspections and an administrative assistant who administrates the permitting boards - i get an intern in the summer and the town is generous about giving me consultant help so i can't complain but i do work hard at preventing burn-out...

    forgot to add: i work for a town manager, a professional - appointed by the Council - i have a 3 year contract - regulatory boards are all appointed by the Coucnil who is elected - good strong charter, wouldn't want it any other way...
    Last edited by luckless pedestrian; 08 Nov 2005 at 9:50 AM.

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,534
    Quote Originally posted by acchhhoooo
    I believe NHPLANNER is expected to do both long and current planning (pop. 28,000)
    You are correct. I am expected (with the Director) to do both. We do budget annually for consultant services to assist as well.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve
    Posts
    3,387
    Town of +25,000
    Town Council with elected CEO (Town Supervisor)
    appointed Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals
    Planning and Zoning are divisions with our Community Development Department
    Planning Staff:
    • (1) Exec. Director of department
    • (1) long range planner
    • (1) current use planner
    • (2) code enforcement officials
    • (1) GIS planner
    • (3) support staff
    1998 Comprehensive Plan is currently being revised

  8. #8

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    Suburban town of 8,000+. Daytime population exceeds 12,000 due to employees and shoppers.

    Four planners, who do our own clerical support. We interact daily with Director of Public Works and Town Manager (who is my boss - he is the only employee who is actually hired/fired by the Selectboard, our elected officials) and on a regular, but less frequent basis with the Parks & Recreation and Fire Departments. Also, once in a while with the Police. We also interact on a very regular basis with state and regional agencies.

    We staff a Development Review Board (7), a Planning Commission (7), a Design Advisory Committee (5), a Historic Preservation Committee (7) and a Conservation Comission (7) as well as various ad hoc citizen task forces. The DAC and HPC are advisory only - they report to the DRB. The Conservaton Commission also advises the DRB on development proposals, but has its own nonregulatory land conservation and management functions.

    Every place is a little different, and while the formal structure can facilitate (or not), it is the network of informal relations that makes local government work.

  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,080
    Quote Originally posted by acchhhoooo
    My question to be more specific is how planning departments handle their day to day processes. Why kind of structures are developed to handle different types of job functions....what organizational strategies have you used to cope with job responsibilities?
    Well, within my dept. there are three Development Planners (I am one) who do the daily heavy lifting for current planning (development review, PC projects, general code questions), then there is the Design Planner that staffs the Design Commission and is the design professional for the dept., then the Housing Planner who administers the first-time homebuyer program and affordable housing program, then the Economic Planner who does business retention/attraction and economic programs, then the Deputy Director who reviews the underling's reports,
    TIF districts management, and is the lead on most long range planning, then finally the Director who oversees the dept. and always has something to do, although I'm not exactly sure what.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,181
    City Size: almost 6,000
    Incorporated and final consolidation in 2000
    Planning & Development Services Department formally established in 2004
    I am the first director of that department

    Staff
    Me, the pimp daddy of the department
    Building Official
    Code Compliance Officer
    PDS Technician (basically a permit clerk with some enhanced abilities)

    If it has anything to do with land, our department pretty much covers it with the exception of public works issues. In a small town you have to wear a lot of hats.

    Commission responsibilities:
    City Council (never leave them unsupervised)
    Planning and ZOning Commission
    Park Advisory Board
    Flood Mitigation Committee

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,366
    Me: Lord and King Buffu (I report to the Assistant County Manager)
    2 Principal Planners
    1 Transportation Planner (guess who?)
    3 Planners
    1 Resources Planner
    1 Development Services Engineer
    1 Staff Assistant

    We perform both current and comprehensive planning.

    Board of County Commissioners (5)
    Planning Commission (5) appointed by the Board
    What would RJ do?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    ????
    Posts
    1,184
    We are organized by area. The City is divided into 3 geogrpahical areas and one person is responsible for all of the planning activity in that area. We are relatively small in area (10 square miles, but rather dense for UT: 5300 people per square mile).

  13. #13
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,355
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    PDS Technician (basically a permit clerk with some enhanced abilities)

    If it has anything to do with land, our department pretty much covers it with the exception of public works issues. In a small town you have to wear a lot of hats.

    Commission responsibilities:
    City Council (never leave them unsupervised)
    Planning and ZOning Commission
    Park Advisory Board
    Flood Mitigation Committee
    what does PDS stand for? How does this position work for you?

    i love the city council comment - ya think?...

  14. #14
    Suburban beltway Township - 40,000
    Four elected officials, three trustees and one clerk
    appointed Township Administrator

    Me - I am the Community Development Director ( I am the first Director) I report to the Township Administrator
    Staff:
    • Zoning Administrator
    • Code Enforcement Officer
    • Secretary
    Provide staff support to:
    • Zoning Commission
    • Board of Zoning Appeals
    • Board of Trustees (on zoning and development issues)
    Functions include:
    • Zoning Permit Processing ( Zoning Administrator)
    • Site Plan Review (Director)
    • Long Range Planning (Director, usually with consultant)
    • Code Enforcement ( Zoning and property Maintenance) (Code Enforcement Officer)
    • Economic Development (Director)
    Working in a small office for a growing community allows you to wear many hats.

    However in Ohio, Townships are the lowest form of government with limited powers. Can make the job challenging. ie:

    The County Planning Commission, not the Township, has the final authority on approving all subdivision plats. We do review and provide comments on subdivisions, which sometimes are considered and sometimes not. The County Planning Commission must also review and provide recommendations on all Township Zone change requests. I have found it to be very important to maintain a good, solid working relationship with both the County Planning Department and the County Engineer.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,133
    Rural City of 10,000
    City Council/City Manager
    Planning/Zoning/Grants Dept

    1.5 employees total. I am the City Planner and then I also have a part time grant assistant.

    Provide staff support to:
    City Council
    Planning Commission
    Zoning Board of Appeals
    County Housing Rehab Commission
    Countless other boards and committees, but not city entities

    Functions include:
    Basically everything everyone has already mentioned.
    Administer CDBG grants for the City and for the County, and other misc. grants
    Long range planning - we have money in our budget for consultants
    Economic Development - I basically cover that as well for the City (there is a county position, but it is vacant right now)

  16. #16
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    The previous organization I worked for:

    Appointed Committee that made decisons on some items (variances) and recomendations on other items to elected council(OP, Zoning, some land divison).

    Current

    Appointed Committee for some items (land divisions, variances) and to council for other items (OP, Zoning)

    Not really sure which works better, they both have issues.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,482
    Area Plan Commission
    County -172,000 including city - 121,000

    Executive Director - for both the Plan Commission and MPO (that is a seperate staff)
    Assistant Director
    Senior Planner
    Staff Field Report writer - .5 person
    Zoning Enforcement/Permitting - 3.5 people
    CAD/GIS/Drafting/Addressing - 3 people
    Office Manager/Bookkeeper/Secretary - 2 people

    Zoning, Subdivision, Comp Plan, BZA, zoning enforcement, special projects

    Housing, Redevelopment, Brownfields, Grants - another seperate dept.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    Our 400,000 population county is unique...

    Our planning department is an independent body that reports to city council directly, but in some issues reports to the county administrator... the only county "department" to do so.

    The planning department has...
    1 planning director
    4 current planners
    3 transportation planners
    6 future planners
    5 support staffmembers

    The future planners also work for the cities as well, acting as the planners for each of the six municipalities.

    The unusual chain-of-command presents a challenge... there are times when the demands of the city council, county administrator, and the municipalities come into conflict. Throw in the prevelant anti-planning attitude and good-old-boy-network... it can get kind of hairy.

    But it's also good... as we got to work on a wide array of projects... regional planning, local planning, and everywhere in between. My personal favorite was doing work with the municipalities, as we got to really do some proactive things.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Community organization registration
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 28 May 2013, 6:40 PM
  2. Office organization
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 08 Sep 2005, 1:06 AM
  3. File organization
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 16 Mar 2005, 2:10 PM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last post: 03 Mar 2005, 11:04 AM
  5. Ordinance organization
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 30 Aug 2004, 3:43 PM