Planning officials often find themselves in situations that involve a decision to act ethically or not. This course first introduces the definition of ethics as it is referred to in planning, along with concepts such as conflict of interest, incompatible office and appearance of impropriety. While there are laws that apply to planning officials’ conduct, being an effective planner means going beyond the literal wording of statutes. It also means adhering to ethical principles that have been established within the planning profession. A strong recognition of these principles and how they may be applicable in various scenarios can help promote planning that is held to a higher standard.
This course provides a discussion on how to identify a conflict of interest generally, as well as the various resources someone can use to determine whether a conflict of interest exists. We emphasize that even when there is no conflict of interest, even the “appearance of impropriety” can be detrimental to the public’s trust in local decision making. In other words, planners must be aware of the legal implications of their actions, the ethical implications of their actions and the perceived ethical implications of their actions. All of these factors can be a lot to handle for a planning official. This course details many of the various ethical dilemmas a planning official should be aware of, emphasizing the need to understand your respective state’s legislation.