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Thread: Elected vs appointed land use commissions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Elected vs appointed land use commissions

    Which do you think is better and why? Does the type of community effect the decision (urban vs. suburban/rural)?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian inzane's avatar
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    Appointed (with direction).

    I have worked in cities that have used both types of Commissioners. I personally think that the appointment process has less of a chance to get tangled with all of the political B.S. that comes with an elected process. In an election the person elected has a feeling that they owe people that helped them get elected. Those people in the city that I worked at were ALWAYS the bad developers. The bad developers always helped because they are looking for a way to grease the skids for their personal gain. I hated it!!!!!

    On the other hand if the person that is appointing the commission has a motive to appoint puppets that he or she can control, it could be very bad as well. In the city that used the appointment method, we had criteria placed in the ordinance that called out for a certain type of professionals to make up ˝ of the commission. We had provisions for a Banker, an Architect, an Appraiser and an Engineer/ surveyor. This people were usually retired because an active pro would have to excuse them from the discussion and vote if they have any ties to the development. I Loved working with that commission because they had a keen nose for B.S. If a bad developer said that adding quality materials to a building was going to make the development unprofitable. The banker and the architect would see the snow job call him on it and request that he meets the basic standard that we (staff) recommended. Those guys were pit-bull and the city thrived because of it. So for me take the politics out of it and count my vote for appointed (with direction) hands down.
    “I injured a rock… Hospitalized a brick… I’m so bad I make medicine Sick!!!!”
    Muhammad Ali

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    In my fair community we have a mix -

    AREA PLAN COMMISSION
    The Area Plan Commission (APC) is an appointed board that serves without compensation.
    It is composed of thirteen voting members, seven from the City and six from the County.

    County Representatives
    School District Representative
    County Surveyor (elected position)
    Member of the County Council (elected position)
    Member of the County Commissioners (elected position)
    Two Citizen Members (appointed by County Commissioners and County Council)

    City Representatives
    Member of Board of Public Works (appointed position)
    Member of the Common Council (elected position)
    Five Citizen Members (appointed by the Mayor and City Council)
    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)

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    so far my experience has been limited to appointed boards. It seems to work well, but the quality of the members definitely depends on the quality of the community.

    In my last job, half the members were not the most keen observers, but in my current community all the members are quite adept and makes the process much more agreeable for us planners.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Too much politics in planning and not enough planning in politics...

    Appointed officials are less likely to get strung up in the emotional/political BS that often comes with land use decisions. You get better objectivity from an appointed Commission, IMHO.

    Of course, how many Planning & Zoning Commissioners can you count that have made the jump into City Council? It seems almost like a rite of passage around these parts...

    "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)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Politics are going to part of land use planning regardless, but at least with appointees, it's indirect.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  7. #7
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    I haven't had much experience with elected land use officials. but I think that appointed board would generally best depending on the groups expertise and willingness to learn. At the same time you still have to be wary because appointed members can often have their own agendas as well.

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