Planning Commissioner Training

The Planning Commissioner Training series from Planetizen Courses offers ten courses on the essentials of citizen planning—everything from planning ethics, comprehensive plans, site plans, approval processes, planning law, zoning, and the essential role of the public in planning.
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Learn the tools you need to make a positive impact in your community.
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10 hours of high quality video lessons developed by planning experts.
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National curriculum
National Curriculum
Essential training relevant to commissioners in every U.S. jurisdiction.

In This Training

Introduction to Planning

This course is a short introduction to your role as a planning official. The course introduces your duties and responsibilities as a planning official, as well as the groups you will be working with.

46 Mins

Planning Official Ethics 101

In this course, we will introduce why ethics are a concern for all public officials. We look at how ethics governs a planning official’s duties and actions. By the end of this course, you will have a basic understanding of your ethical boundaries and responsibilities.

62 Mins

What is a Comprehensive Plan?

Before you create a plan, you need to know its purpose and the essential components of the document. This course reviews the basic elements and purpose of a comprehensive plan created through the planning process.

60 Mins

Overview of the Planning Process

In order to develop or update a comprehensive plan, you need a process. The planning process is not unlike how we plan our everyday activities. For example, before you start planning a trip across the country, you need an overall view of how you are going to get there. Once you have that, you can plan the details for each part of the trip. This course provides an overview of the phases involved in developing or updating the comprehensive plan and the details that will assist with performing each phase.

40 Mins

Working with the Public

Working with the public is a critical element of the planning process. Knowing what the public wants or needs has a direct bearing on the content of the comprehensive plan. This course describes various techniques a planning commission can use to work with the public and identifies what is required for making that interaction successful.

67 Mins

Basic Legal Framework for Planning Officials

This course introduces the laws that give planning officials the powers to perform their duties. It also introduces the sources and types of law that planning officials should know in order to understand the legal basis for planning and zoning.

47 Mins

Constitutional Limitations on Planning and Zoning

This course introduces the constitutional limitations of government and the rights of individuals with respect to planning and zoning. The course will help planning officials understand that their actions are limited by provisions in the U.S. and state constitutions.

61 Mins

How Does Zoning Work?

This course introduces zoning from the vantage point of how its implementation by local governments is similar to the democratic structure of the federal government. Legislative, administrative, and quasi-judicial functions provide a check and balance for each other. This course will also look at the roles different bodies and people perform.

49 Mins

The Site Plan

In this course, you will learn about the nature and use of a site plan and how it relates to the requirements of the zoning ordinance. The course covers the definition of a site plan, site plan requirements, and the process of conducting a thorough site plan review. The site plan is often the last step in the review process prior to receiving a building permit. An approved plan, is what the public will see after construction, and once the plan is approved the regulatory agency must enforce the site plan through project completion.

55 Mins

Overview of the Zoning Process

This course gives you an overview of the zoning processes. The zoning ordinance is a legal document that requires a strong background in law and planning. This course details each step of the zoning process to make effective land use decisions.

38 Mins

About the MSU American Citizen Planner Program

The American Citizen Planner program at Michigan State University teaches professionals, local officials, citizen advocates, non-profit groups, government agencies and the general public about positive land use decisions for their communities regarding zoning regulation, best practices for planning and zoning and sustainable community planning. It is designed for those who are interested in the basic concepts of public land use and development regulation and in the best practices of community development and smart growth.