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AICP with private development wireless experience?


Hi all,

Any help on crafting a passable employer verification letter from a real estate development company would be greatly appreciated from you all. Please offer suggestions.
This rather long question is for anyone familiar with the work experience required for becoming eligible to take the AICP examination for the first time with "non-traditional planning experience". A little background info: I graduated with a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from an accredited University (UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning). For almost a decade after graduating I looked for and applied to hundreds of planning jobs without luck. Realizing doing the same thing over-and-over again and expecting different results was insanity, I reconnected with a former classmate and she helped me improve my resume to land my first temporary municipal planning position. I presented my staff reports at Conditional Use Permit hearings adhering to Robert's Rules of Order, led pre-application meetings advising the public land use regulations, reviewed building permit applications for compliance with zoning code regulations, interpreted the Comprehensive plan and how development proposals brought the city closer to their key goals for future growth.

This municipal planning position was temporary for 8 months, and afterwards I landed a full-time job working on the direct opposite side of the counter as a wireless Site Acquisition Agent at a private real estate development company. Although this position is "non-traditional", I feel that more than half my time is devoted to planning work. I research and submit zoning and planning applications everyday, read zoning code regulations as it relates to wireless telecommunication facilities. I often times butt heads with planners as several planers mis-interpret their own code regulations as it relates to wireless communication facilities (i find it funny how local level planners try to regulate a use that they have no idea on how it operates). I understand the complexities of federal regulations (6409) as they relate to local zoning code regulations (tower height extensions, shot-clock requirements, etc).

For new raw-land builds, I attend pre-application meetings to understand all the specific requirements for submitting a CUP or Design Review application. I research the parcel and understand the specific zoning district regulations (setbacks, height restrictions, concealment, existing and necessary easements, ) as it relates to the proposed use. I am in-charge of notifying the public and hosting neighborhood meetings. I present our cell tower proposals to the public and educate them on how our proposal reduces the visual impacts (concealment, landscape buffering), and how implementation of a new wireless telecommunication facility provides essential communication services (lower dropped calls for 911 emergency situations, high speed data services for economic development, etc.) as it relates to the long-term vision of the comprehensive plan. I can make a direct connection of a proposed cell tower to the goals of a jurisdiction's long-term comprehensive plan goals as it benefits the community (economic development, safety, meeting increased demand for wireless services over the next 10 + years).

Usually, someone with a Master's from an accredited program would only have to get 2 years of experience before being eligible for applying and taking the AICP exam having worked in a traditional planning role. I am well aware with non traditional experience like I described could get my foot in the door to take the AICP exam in 4 years (per the pro-rated rules described in the AICP Candidate Bulletin). However, does anyone have advise or tips on how to describe my job experience to get over the hurtle of becoming qualified? I don't want any hiccups. I am almost tempted to ask my boss (he is the president of our real estate development company AND a former Director of Community Development for a municipal planning dept) to change my job title from "Site Acquisition Agent" to "Land Planner". Does my 8 months of experience as a temporary planner give my AICP Criterion checklist a boost? I feel like I did not leave on good terms with my former supervisor there, so I may just leave it off my application because I don't want to deal with my former boss's bad attitude. If you read through this far, thank you, I really appreciate it. Any help on crafting a passable employer verification letter from a real estate development company would be greatly appreciated from you all.


I'm no help crafting the letter. I've always been on the light side of the counter. It sounds like you have the basic ideas down though. You interpret code for your employer, etc. I would put down the 8 months of public planning. If I remember right the only thing the AICP folks need from government is maybe a job description and a letter from HR stating when you worked. The old boss is not even involved. It also helps answer some of the essay questions like the whole thing about applying a regional outlook or however they phrase it.