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What do you do at work?

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,461
Points
44
In our office, we all have to type up what we actually do at work. As the 2 other planners in the office and I sat to think about it, there were a few that came out quickly, but then we thought for a little while, and wondered what is it that we really do.

I would like to ask this question:
What do you ACTUALLY do at work?

For me, I do not think that I do that much. I help with historic preservation, operate the GIS computer, make some maps, and neighborhood planning. Another planner in the office, types the planning commission minutes, and reviews subdivision and land development plans.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
This is from our department website - "What We Do"

The Planning Department promotes both the careful development of land, and the preservation of Muskego’s natural resources. To accomplish this, the Department is involved a variety of programs, including current and long range planning, geographic information systems, economic development, zoning administration, lake management, urban forestry, and conservation management. The Department’s role also includes the dissemination of this information to the public, and coordination with county, regional, state, and federal officials.

Current Planning
Staff reviews development plans and conducts site visits to determine compliance with local regulations. During this time Planning Staff works closely with the applicant to address potential conflicts with zoning codes, land division codes, or the Comprehensive Plan, and prepares Development Agreements as needed. In this program area, Staff also compiles a Case Supplement which accompanies the agenda to each Plan Commission member.

Long Range Planning
Also referred to as Comprehensive Planning, this program area deals with the long-term aspects of community planning. It includes master planning, code writing, housing, road and transit planning, resource protection, economic development, policy planning, strategic planning, budgeting, coordination with capital improvement budgeting, statistical forecasting, social welfare, advanced mapping, base mapping, feasibility studies, report writing, grant writing and grant administration, and intergovernmental cooperation. A key task of this program area is to bring the city's current Comprehensive Plan into compliance with the State's “Smart Growth” planning legislation. The Planning Department staffs the ad-hoc Comprehensive Plan Committee, formed every several years to update the Plan.

Geographic Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been part of the Planning Department since its inception, but came into maturity in 2001 with the addition of a full-time Coordinator. The goal of GIS is to provide cost-effective spatial information to assist decision-making processes. Much of what GIS produces are maps and graphics in paper and digital form. Planning staff participates in a County Users Group, a coalition of municipal and County interests formed to enhance land records management at a regional, intergovernmental level.

Economic Development
This program area assists the Mayor’s Office with fostering activities intended to retain, pursue, enhance, and attract investment in the community to ensure a stable or growing tax base along with job retention and creation. More specifically, this program area is responsible for grant writing and administration to support economic development initiatives, and maintaining the Economic Development Strategic Plan, Community Fact Book, Industrial Park Directory, and related data for the City. Planning staff provides direct support to the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development.

Zoning
The Zoning program area is responsible for the review and administration of permits which do not require Plan Commission or Common Council approval, providing customer service and assistance through the permit process, enforcement of zoning code provisions, and staffing the Board of Appeals.

Lake Management
This program area is charged with administration of Priority Lakes Watershed grants, assisting the Building and Engineering Department with erosion control administration to reduce non-point source pollution, educating to riparian land owners. This program area maintains an annual work program which implements best management practices for riparian lands. The Planning Department provides staff liaisons to the various Lake Associations and Lake Districts on an as-needed basis.

Urban Forestry
The Forestry program area is responsible for Strategic Planning and development of five-year Management Plans to maintain and enhance Muskego’s urban and rural forests. The Department implements annual tree planting, pruning, and removal programs, and hosts quarterly public education workshops. The Department provides staff to the Urban Forestry Committee.

Conservation
With the completion of the City’s first Conservation Plan, this program area is responsible for implementing best management practices associated with physical projects such as restoring and maintaining native prairies and remnant oak savannahs. The Planning Department also assists the Mayor’s office with land acquisitions consistent with the recommendations of the Conservation Plan and the Department of Natural Resources’ Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area plans.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Some of us have 1,000 posts, some of us have 2,000... some of us even have 3,000. ;)
 

mcmplans

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
Well, since I am the only planner in my city, I do it all! I review site plans, subdivision plats, prepare meeting agendas, prepare mailouts for adjacent property owners, review rezoning requests and variance requests and other stuff having to do with planning commission and BZA. I also draft amendments to the zoning ordinance, sign ordinance and sub regs. We also have a historic zoning commission so I am staff for them. I review all the applications for Certificates of Appropriateness and update the Design Guidelines as needed. I also need to be working on an update to our comprehensive plan but I just can't seem to find the time to work on it.

Oh yeah, and I have set up and maintain our GIS system and make maps for the various departments in the city.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
michaelskis said:
In our office, we all have to type up what we actually do at work.
Oh crap! I'm about four weeks behind in turning those stupid things in. We only have to list projects we've worked on, no real detail. I once had an employeer who wanted detailed descriptions in 15 min. intervals - a near impossible task.

As for what I do...I'm not actually a planner but an unemployeed Chip-n-Dale's dancer. I'm currently suffering from a pulled...well you don't want to know, and am sitting at home on the computer while collecting disability and food stamps. ;)


The Truth:
Right now I'm managing CDBG contracts and other community development projects. Not a bad gig but it's a lot of paper work and I really have too much energy to be at a desk all day. I miss doing the more traditional planning work and hope that, since several people will be retiring in the next couple of years, I can get back to doing more neighborhood and Main Street planning
 
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H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Plot to take over the world, hahahahah…………..;)
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
5,902
Points
31
I'm lucky, being really part time; I work on a couple of projects at a time, and my time is dedicated to current projects. RIght now, I'm writing lesson plans for intermediate grades - all about solid waste stuff, and working on a team to develop a fundraising book for potntial financial contributors.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
Trails planning: coordinate with other jurisdictions, write grant applications, liaison to the Trails Advisory Committee, review development plans for trail issues, go to BPAC meetings, handle trails/comp planning issues. Oh, and get to help plan big events like trail/trail bridge openings.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
24
Let's see...

I research and write highest and best use opinions for condemnation and rezoning lawsuits;

I do plan review and landscaping review for municipalities that hire us for planning services;

I work with attorneys to prepare development submittals for developers; and

I do a lot of business development work.

That's life in the private sector.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,342
Points
31
slave labor

I'm another "do it all" planner, even though I'm just an intern (note the 'slave labor' reference in the subject). Really, what I'm doing goes beyond traditional planning and into community development. I've been doing a lot of ordinance/legal research over the last month or so. Doing all of these duties as an intern is extremely difficult since I don't have a real planning mentor to learn from; I work directly for the city administrator. The good news is we're hiring a code compliance officer that has done tasks like plat review in the past.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
The great thing about my job is that it is very diverse. What I focus on tends to change frequently. I may be working on industrial development projects for a time, and then along comes the annual update of our demographic materials, a new retail project a brownfield, or....

Last year I did try to figure out about how much time I spent in various activities, as an estimate of the number of hours per week. I came up with fifty hours, which is about right, and about typical, according to a survey of economic developers that was just conducted. Probably the worst part of it was realizing that I spend 10-15 hours per week in meetings.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Well, I guess I will add some weird things to the mix, just so that its clear to everyone that there are some alternative paths for planners.

Until Monday, we (my wife is co-author) were spending 10-12 hours a day trying to finish a book that is sponsored by the Sonoran Institute and National Association of Counties. It is now in the hands of the editors and book designers, and how it will look when we see it next is an open question, but we have no control, so we have no worries. Hopefully all of you will be able to see it in print by the first of the year. But, that isn't typical of what planners for nonprofits do.

Planners who work for the Sonoran Institute (there were two of us, 'til I decided I needed a break once the book was done) spend a lot of time designing and conducting a training program for rural western county officials called the Western Community Stewardship Forum. That program also involves follow-up with selected counties. At the beginning of the program I was once on the road for 32 days, with stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado again. The follow-up assistance can include more training to respond to community needs, helping them with socioeconomic profiles, work program design and coaching, and projects like build-out studies, COCS, PDR program design, etc. We have helped with a gateway communities planning program with the Park Service and The Conservation Foundation, but that is on the back burner in the Bush era. SI also assists places that have conservation significance, most usually in the form of helping with community visioning, but sometimes with comp plans or development regs. We interact a lot with land trusts and other conservation groups, etc.

You have to be a diversity junkie and, at least in my case, you had to be willing to travel almost endlessly, but working for a nonprofit can be a great way to apply planning skills.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
What I'm Doing Right Now

I'm working on

a Level of Service study for a city in North Carolina;

Classifying uses by LBCS for a County in Maryland; and

Drafting text for a Comp Plan Update for a County in Georgia.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
what I was hired to do... or what I do...
I was hired as a GIS Planner... I do a lot of GIS work.. but am writing a regional plan for our Greenway region....I am new to County level planning......used to be in the local trenches...and I think I like it here better.
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
679
Points
19
Hazard Mitigation Planning for a 9 county region. I'm in charge of mapping(GIS) and minor tasks like getting mailers ready to go. It's amazing that some of these counties actually operate on a civil level, there's so much in fighting it's unbelievable.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,406
Points
32
Lee Nellis said:

Planners who work for the Sonoran Institute (there were two of us, 'til I decided I needed a break once the book was done)

Hey, I know a planner that works there...it must be the other guy.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Currently:

Managing a contract/planning process to develop a Master Plan for a commercial corridor in the city.

Revising our Housing Element in the General Plan to reflect new data and a transfer of "Housing Needs Allocation" from the unincorporated county to the City.

Fairfield staff for an open space JPA

Various and sundry assignments.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Lee, your post has me wondering.... Do you deal with the issues of reconciling "environmental protection" with "economic development?" (The quotes are there because I interpret those terms very broadly here.)
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Yes, but the official Sonoran Institute line, and the line I used for years before I went to work for SI is that there is no real conflict between economic development and environmental quality. Just short term misperception.

The only way to prosperity (defined very broadly) for the vast majority of communities is through respect for and protection of their natural and cultural assets. Many, many local elected officials live in a past where it was possible to believe (its what I was "taught" as a kid for that matter, although it obviously wasn't true, even then) that what's good for General Bull Moose is not just good for the USA, but good for your hometown, too. Given the mobility of capital, etc, etc. its clear to me (and the economists I work with) that the only future that is worth living in will be along a very different path. We will either all end up living in Wal-Mart (once it buys Home Depot) or we will start taking our landscapes and our communities back. This vision of the future is, by the by, reasonably market oriented. We think that a healthy community fosters local entrepreneurs in many ways. There is a chapter in the forthcoming book …_

If you need an economy v environment person, I'll be available in the fall.
 
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