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Thread: Use of visuals at planning commission meetings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus pcjournal's avatar
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    Use of visuals at planning commission meetings

    One of the topics I'm going to be highlighting in the Fall issue of the Planning Commissioners Journal is the use of visuals at planning commission meetings.

    I was impressed during my cross-country travels this Summer by the excellent use of visuals displayed on screens or monitors during meetings -- in terms of providing information about projects on the agenda (e.g., geographic context of project; site plans; review criteria; etc).

    I'd like to hear from any planners who could provide some advice or tips -- based on their own experience -- on what works best (and what doesn't work well) in displaying information to planning commissioners and the public during meetings. Also, what sort of time (and money) investment this may involve.

    fyi, here are two of my trip reports that mentioned commission meetings where good visuals were used:
    -- Jefferson City, Missouri
    -- Montrose, Colorado

    Thanks,

    Wayne Senville
    Editor, Planning Commissioners Journal
    [reports from along U.S. Route 50: www.rte50.com]

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    One of the things we've found most important is to label what you are showing on the screen. So if the visual is to show where the subject property is located, highlight the property somehow (outline, color, arrow, etc.) and label it.

    Then there's all the usual stuff about not putting too many words into a single slide, etc., etc.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We do 90% of materials electronically.

    We get PDF plans from applicants, and I run them through my laptop and on the screen at the back of the room (it also shows on screens in front of each of the members, and is transmitted directly into the cable access feed for the viewers at home). I can highlight, and manipulate the plans as necessary during the meeting.

    I have a powerpoint of the agenda scrolling whenever there isn't anything else on screen.
    "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

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus pcjournal's avatar
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    what about your own materials?

    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner View post
    We do 90% of materials electronically.

    We get PDF plans from applicants, and I run them through my laptop and on the screen at the back of the room (it also shows on screens in front of each of the members, and is transmitted directly into the cable access feed for the viewers at home). I can highlight, and manipulate the plans as necessary during the meeting.

    I have a powerpoint of the agenda scrolling whenever there isn't anything else on screen.
    What sort of materials do you put up independent of what you receive from the applicant? For example, do you display any site photos or videos taken by staff? staff comments?

    And are there any problems you've encountered doing visuals this way -- or pitfalls you've learned to avoid?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner View post
    We do 90% of materials electronically.

    We get PDF plans from applicants, and I run them through my laptop and on the screen at the back of the room (it also shows on screens in front of each of the members, and is transmitted directly into the cable access feed for the viewers at home). I can highlight, and manipulate the plans as necessary during the meeting.

    I have a powerpoint of the agenda scrolling whenever there isn't anything else on screen.
    We do the same - maps, photos, PDFs of agendas and staff reports. Works well.

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pcjournal View post
    What sort of materials do you put up independent of what you receive from the applicant? For example, do you display any site photos or videos taken by staff? staff comments?

    And are there any problems you've encountered doing visuals this way -- or pitfalls you've learned to avoid?
    Staff reports, GIS information, Pictometry photos.

    If I can get it in an electronic format, we will use it.

    Thus far, the only problem is the occasional large PDF that slows the speed of the laptop. Otherwise, everything works well (our Town Hall was built in 2005, so everything is wired properly).
    "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 mike gurnee's avatar
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    I have been using powerpoint slides in PDF for a few months. We include site photos and scans of submittals.

    One hint: the minutes from tape recordings are difficult to decipher unless the presentor makes it clear what is going on: "slide #7 is a photo of the site towards the west"; "on slide #5 you will note summaries of comments from public works and engineering".

    Such clarification greatly helps one who reads the minutes without having the powerpoint on (like a judge).

  8. #8
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    When I worked at a development consulting firm, we often times would put together very nice project booklets for our housing developments with site plans, renderings, elevations, etc. We would then take these images and develop a PowerPoint presentation that included these same images. It was extremely helpful to the PC's as it allowed them to back track on their own or look at the details in front of them. It helps the overall flow of the presentation as well because it catered to the short attention spans of most PC's!! haha.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner View post
    We get PDF plans from applicants, and I run them through my laptop and on the screen at the back of the room (it also shows on screens in front of each of the members, and is transmitted directly into the cable access feed for the viewers at home). I can highlight, and manipulate the plans as necessary during the meeting.

    I have a powerpoint of the agenda scrolling whenever there isn't anything else on screen.
    Are you from the future?

    Our dated meeting spaces don't allow for such things (although I'm glad I'm not on cable).

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    I have fun projecting the minutes from prior meetings on the screen for both the applicants and the board to see.

    It sometimes help remind the applicants what they previously told the board they would "definately do."
    All these years the people said heís actiní like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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