Member Responsibilities & Qualifications
Commissioners are expected to:
- Attend all scheduled meetings.
- Read the packet of material sent to you prior to each meeting, and familiarize yourself with the various agenda items. Commissioners are encouraged to visit the location of cases in order to become familiar with the sites in question.
- Disclose any financial interests, close business ties, close family ties, or any other relationship with an applicant that affects, or would appear to affect, your ability to be unbiased and objective.
- Not discuss any item scheduled for public hearing with any parties thereto prior to the public hearing. You should discourage the presentation to you of any information relative to a public hearing item outside of the actual hearing.
A Commissioner’s primary job is to give recommendations on land use decisions that are consistent with the policies and plans formally adopted by the City Council. Therefore, the first priority of a Commissioner must be to develop decision-making skills and knowledge of City policies. It is not critical to have training in fields such as planning, architecture, law, civil engineering or geology. These are skills that are available to the Commissioner from staff, consultants, and the applicant.
The Commissioner’s function is to weight the professional input given by staff, the applicant, and the public testimony. A commissioner is much like a judge who is trained to render a legal decision based on the testimony of experts and others who appear as witnesses in a trial.
Suggested qualifications for a Planning Commissioner include:
- A willingness and ability to research and report on issues, programs and policies related to development issues.
- A willingness to attend night meetings on a regular basis.
- A willingness to assist in implementing projects as decided upon by the City Council.
- The ability to fairly represent different areas of interest, knowledge and expertise, including but not limited to business, industry, labor, farming, government and other relevant disciplines.
- The ability to sustain harmonious working relationships with Commissioners, the City Council, residents, applicants and the public.
- A willingness to attend extracurricular meeting and training seminars related to regional planning uses.
- You should be civic minded and genuinely interested in growth and development issues.
- You must be able to learn basic zoning concepts, visualize spatial relationships, and understand technical problems.
- You should be able to assemble information from both written and oral testimony and apply it to the making of meaningful recommendations that are based upon adopted plans, ordinances, required findings of fact and established polices, and not upon personal values.
- Deliberation takes place during the meeting and in front of the applicant. You should not be easily intimidated, and should be a willing participant in the discussion of each case.
- Objectivity is important. You should have an ability to listen to opposing views and still keep a clear focus on where the real public interest lies, what is not only within the law but also really fair, and the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion.
- You should be energetic and outgoing, not afraid to speak out, and be able to express yourself clearly and concisely in public.