Planning Officials Training Program

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Certification Maintenance

The basic framework prepares planning officials for their role as community representatives with training materials to support better development, review processes and decision-making outcomes. The training program includes the breadth of topics needed by commissioners and other audiences working with planners.

The program training objections for commissioners are to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of their roles & responsibilities
  • Explore meeting management and implement sound practices and techniques
  • Comprehend planning knowledge areas of importance
  • Implement better decision-making methods and approaches

Purchase of this program allows the individual purchaser unlimited opportunities to share the materials and video links with their planning officials for up to 2 years from their purchase date. The short training videos are organized by topic and grouped into two categories, Essential Skills and Keys to Sound Action. The presentations include cues to look further into State or Local policies as needed.

Essential Skills Videos (Total length 95 minutes):

  • Roles & Responsibilities;
  • Managing the Meeting;
  • Staff Report;
  • Comprehensive Plans;
  • Zoning & Ordinances

Keys to Sound Action Videos (Total length 75 minutes):

  • Findings of Fact;
  • Equity in Planning;
  • Ethics in Decision-Making;
  • Legal Decision-Making;
  • Procedural Requirements (Open Meetings Act, Conflict of Interest, Ex Parte Communications)

To build not just better-informed commissioners, but a cohesive and productive commission our program facilitator resources include customizable email templates; PowerPoint slides and resources; a program map that details all program training resources, and facilitated discussion questions to further foster engagement between planning officials and expand training opportunities.

To help facilitators (whether local staffs, APA Chapters or Divisions, or others that manage municipal commissioners), the program kicks off with a facilitator training video demonstrating effective ways to use the presentations and resources.

Communities, towns, villages, and planners that would benefit most from purchasing and using these training materials work with the following groups:

  • Planning Officials (Plan Commission & Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA))
  • Appointed or elected officials
  • Legislative bodies
  • Planning staff working with planning officials
  • APA state chapters conducting planning officials training
  • Professional Development Officers
  • Divisions

This program content was developed by seasoned planners from across the country, all experts in training local planning officials. It is supported and presented by APA, the national organization that is devoted to creating communities of lasting value for everyone.

About the Speakers

Linda Amato
Ms. Amato has over 30 years of consulting experience managing and preparing planning and environmental studies. She served on the Seattle Planning Commission, 2006-2010 and Chair, 2008-2010. Ms. Amato was an instructor for Washington State's Department of Commerce's Short Course on Local Planning where she developed training materials for, and taught, planning commissioners the fundamentals of planning. Linda is a nationally recognized leader in managing and preparing clear and concise planning documents and has presented numerous times at APA conferences. For more than a decade, Linda has been part of APA's national leadership, currently serving on APA's Board of Directors as an At-Large Director.

Ann Bagley
Ann Cooke Bagley, FAICP is a professional planner with over 35 years experience working with small and medium sized cities on long range plans, area plans, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, and park plans. She was inducted into the College of Fellows in 2010. She is the Planning Official Development Officer for the APA Texas chapter and coordinator of the Short Course for Elected and Appointed Officials. She conducts workshops for planning commissioners across Texas. From 2005 to 2015, she was the Dallas City Plan Commissioner for District 7. She also served as APA Director at Large from 2010 to 2017 and currently serves on APA's Planning Officials Committee.

Michael Blue
Michael is a Principal Consultant at Teska Associates in Evanston, IL. Work includes preparing comprehensive and strategic plans, zoning regulations, conducting staff and organizational development, and a performing development approval audits. Previously worked as Community Development Director for Highland Park, IL and Deputy CD Director for Mount Prospect, IL. Work in those communities included long range planning, current planning, and support of Council and Commission activities. Active in national and state leadership of APA, Michael currently is chair of ILAPA Commissioner Training Committee and serves on the AICP Membership Committee.

Bonnie Johnson
Bonnie J. Johnson, PhD, FAICP is Director and Professor in the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program within the School of Public Affairs and Administration. She teaches planning theory, land use, and politics, planning, and administration courses. Research focuses on the profession of city planning and the roles and ethics of being a planner, particularly facilitation and communication skills. Contributions to the field include the use of new media for neighborhood organizing, creation of the civic bureaucracy model, groundbreaking research on staff reports, and comparative studies of public service professions and their codes of ethics. Before returning to school for her doctorate, Johnson was a practicing city planner for eight years designing citizen engagement processes for neighborhood, corridor, and city/countywide plans. While at the City of Liberty, Missouri, she was project manager for Liberty’s award winning Blueprint for Liberty: Land Use Plan. The plan was awarded the American Planning Association’s “Outstanding Planning Award” for the best plan in the country. She is the Professional Development Officer for the Kansas APA Chapter and serves on the AICP Ethics Committee.

Gregory Jones
Greg has dedicated his career to counseling municipalities and officials on land use, zoning, good governance, and corporate matters. He advises communities in a wide variety of transactional matters, including intergovernmental agreements, tax increment financing, development agreements, zoning code overhauls, and complex real estate deals. Greg has advocated for clients during negotiations with various local, state, and federal agencies on a variety of land use matters and has successfully defended public officials both in and out of the courtroom. Greg formerly served as a city planner, project manager, and zoning administrator for municipalities in the Chicago-land area. Greg is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and serves on the American Planning Association’s Legislative Committee for the Illinois Chapter. Greg earned his B.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Stan Popovich
Mr. Popovich is the Director of Community Development at the Village of Downers Grove. He has 24 years of public and private sector experience as an urban planner and historic preservation planner. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Purdue University and a Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Village in 2006, he gained nine years of planning and historic preservation experience at Hardlines Design Company in Columbus, Ohio.

Marjorie Press
Marj Press has more than 25 years experience as a planner focused on analyzing the feasibility and environmental effects of transportation infrastructure projects in Seattle and across the U.S. Areas of expertise include community outreach and consensus building, coordinating collaborative efforts on multidisciplinary teams, and environmental analysis of the built and social environments. Marj was appointed to the Seattle Planning Commission in 2013, serving two three-year terms, representing the Commission on the Light Rail Review Panel, was Commission vice-chair, and participated in the major comprehensive plan update, Seattle 2035. Marj currently serves on APA's board of directors and is immediate past chair of APA's Planning Officials Committee. Marj is a founding member/co-owner of Terra Plata.

David Silverman
David S. Silverman is a partner with Ancel Glink, specializing in local government and land use matters. Prior to his career as an attorney, David was an urban planning and economic development consultant, working with the cities of Detroit and Chicago, and several neighborhood based community development organization. David has been a contributing author to several books, written several articles for various publications, and is a frequent speaker at many seminars, webinars, and conferences about land use and economic development issues. David teaches the Land Use Law course at University of Illinois – Chicago John Marshall Law School.