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November Plan Commissioner Training Sessions in Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Cortland, and Naperville

In October and November the chapter and the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University held four Plan Commissioner Training sessions. As with most of the sessions, they were held on a weekday evening in a municipal building and lasted 2.0 -2.5 hours.

The chapter had held a training session in 2014 in Schaumburg. On October 3 twenty-two people attended the recent training held in an auditorium. Members of several advisory boards, including Plan Commission, Zoning Board, Olde Schaumburg Centre Commission and Environmental Committee, as well as staff attended. The trainers were Michael Blue, FAICP and Laurie Marston, FAICP.

CMAP co-sponsored the Buffalo Grove session on October 30. In addition to members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and staff, a Trustee also attended. Sitting around a conference table, the PZC asked technical questions and discussed the rationale for some procedural best practices. The trainers were Cindy Winland, FAICP and Laurie Marston, FAICP.

Andy Cross, AICP and Dan Ungerleider, AICP were the trainers for Cortland, located in DeKalb County. While a few members had previously served on the Planning Commission, other members were newly appointed. Six people attended the November 1 session, including the commissioners and their consulting planner as the small town does not have a staff planner.

As one of the largest cities in the state, Naperville has several planners on staff and held an in house training for the Planning and Zoning Commission last year. On November 5, many of the staff attended the recent chapter training with the commissioners so everyone had the benefit of hearing the same information. Bob Sullivan, FAICP and Carrie Davis, AICP were the trainers.

While there were differences among the communities, the comments from the commissioners on the anonymous evaluation forms were somewhat similar. When asked about the most helpful topics, the answers included: the role of the commission, their responsibilities as members, what is within their jurisdiction and what is not, hearing procedures, ex parte communication, findings of fact, hardship, difference between a variation and special use, ethics and conflicts of interest.

On the evaluation forms, the commissioners also mentioned that they would like to learn more about real world examples, complex cases and working with the elected officials. Several suggested role playing and a mock hearing for future workshops.

At the 2017 and 2018 state conferences the Plan Commissioner Training included a mock hearing with the commissioners playing themselves or other roles. Save the date for our next commissioner training at the 2019 APA-IL State Conference, Thursday, September 26, 2019 at the Hilton Orrington/Evanston in Evanston, IL.

Since 2011 the chapter has provided 96 training sessions. If you would like to learn more about how we can customize training that will maximize the benefit to your community, please visit the Plan Commissioner Training website or contact Michael Blue, FAICP at

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