On September 26, APA-IL and DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute provided training for the Wheaton Planning and Zoning Board (PZB). All seven members of the PZB, two members of the City Council, the Assistant City Manager, the Director of Planning and the staff planner attended the training workshop.
The staff had requested the training since four members of the PZB were appointed within the last year and all the members could benefit from learning about the goal of taking testimony and tips for running a public hearing. Trainers were Michael Blue, FAICP and Laurie Marston, FAICP.
Those attending completed a short, anonymous evaluation form. The comments included: “good examples, much food for thought”, “the format is a good one” and “it was all very helpful”. Among the topics that were mentioned as most helpful were “guidance on separating fact from emotion” and “limits of PZB authority”.
The commissioners asked a variety of questions, including:
Was the Comp Plan amended to add the downtown streetscape plan and improvements?
When the same variation is granted multiple times, should the zoning ordinance be amended?
Can we require landscaping as a condition for a special use?
Should the applicant have to demonstrate a public benefit for approval of a PUD?
Does the applicant or the City hire and pay the traffic engineer?
Are there questions or topics that are not relevant to the Commission’s decision making?
Can commissioners consider aesthetics as they evaluate the merits of a proposal?
The PZB provides time at the start of the meeting for citizen comment. Two residents attended and provided comments on an unrelated matter. The PZB listened to their concerns, explained that the matter might not be come before the PZB and encouraged them to share their thoughts with the city’s elected officials and with the other governmental jurisdictions involved. Rather than an unhelpful response that the matter was not relevant to the PZB and they should provide their comments at another time and place, this was an excellent example of city government being open and respectful of their residents.
(photos by Laurie Marston, FAICP)