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Whiteside County Plan Commissioner Training held in Morrison on 5/23

On May 23, 2019 Whiteside County hosted a plan commission training workshop at the county seat in Morrison, IL. The APA-IL and the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University have provided more than one hundred training sessions since the program began in 2011. Courtney Kashima, AICP and Laurie Marston, FAICP were the trainers for this session.

Driving to western Illinois, the standing water in the fields was obvious. It was understandable when staff said that two or three people who had planned to attend, were instead taking advantage of the dry day to get their crops in the ground. Still the turnout was impressive as twenty-two people attended, including six members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, thirteen members of the County Board and the staff.

Among the most helpful topics mentioned on the anonymous evaluation forms completed by attendees were: understanding the process of the hearings, the responsibilities and role of the planning and zoning commission and various officials, special use standards, findings of fact, conflict of interest, ethics, zoning districts, comprehensive plan and having time for questions and discussion.

The audience was very engaged and asked questions on a wide variety of topics. Among the questions they asked were:

  • Does case law in Illinois limit the authority of the Planning and Zoning Commission?

  • Why does the County Board consider factors in reviewing a case that PZC cannot consider?

  • How do we balance private property rights with our obligation to the public at large?

  • Do other jurisdictions find that it is hard to deny some applications?

  • Are there ways that the County could work with the cities that have extra-territorial jurisdiction over some unincorporated areas?

  • Is it necessary that all questions and comments be directed to the Chair?

  • If a commissioner has a conflict of interest and will not vote, can they participate in the discussion before the vote is taken?

  • Do other local governments have a way to handle those property owners whose approach to permits is to “beg forgiveness rather than ask permission”?

  • Should the zoning department and the building department be separate or a combined department?

  • What are some methods to inform the public when there is a new or changed regulation?


Plan Commissioner Training News & Notes:

Save-the-date for the 2019 APA-IL State Conference!

We're excited to be back in Evanston, IL at the Hilton Orrington, September 25-27, 2019 for our 2019 State Conference. This conference is our once-a-year opportunity for urban planners and allied professionals to learn about the latest trends in Illinois planning and network with their peers.

Each year we host our state conference, we offer the opportunity for plan commissioners to attend an all-day training. This year's all-day Plan Commissioner Training will be held on September 26th. This all-day training is great for commissioners that have and have not been through our evening training. The training is split into a morning of general information, a networking lunch with fellow commissioners and trainers, an afternoon mock hearing to put your knowledge to the test, followed by an evening cocktail hour. Registration is now open! Plan commissioners are able to attend at discounted rates, just $75 for 1-day, $150 for 2 days, or attend all 3 days of the conference for only $200.

Want to know how we can customize training for your officials?

Visit the Plan Commissioner Training website and contact the APA-IL Planning Officials Development Officer, Michael Blue, FAICP at

(photos by Laurie Marston, FAICP)

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