Planning Story of the Day

“My favorite planning story is a cautionary tale about maintaining perspective. Pretty early in my career, I was the case planner for a variance on a single-family residential property and we recommended that the Board deny the variance. During the public hearing, when it became clear that Board would not approve it as proposed, the applicant suggested a series of alternative requests. When the Board asked for staff’s input on the alternatives, I offered the following response: “Staff does not recommend approval of any of the alternatives, but Option X would be the least horrific.” Given that we were discussing the setback for a tennis court; my response may have been just a bit over the top.” — Ben Thurston, AICP, Senior Planner

October is National Community Planning Month

National Community Planning Month is a month-long event that focuses on the importance of community planning and its impacts. This year, the theme of Planning for Infrastructure That Benefits All highlights how good planning processes can strengthen communities and improve equitable resilience. Planning is the process of envisioning, mapping, and conceptualizing how a community will look, grow, and define itself, and much of what makes a community a special place has been the result of decades of careful thought out planning. From where you live, to how you commute, to the type of home you live in, planning helps shape the community around us. Baseline has its own community planning division with planners from different backgrounds who work together with municipalities, developers, and land owners towards meeting their vision. Whether it’s through permitting, entitlements, zoning code development, conceptual development renderings, site design, landscape architecture, public outreach, development code drafting, etc., Baseline can help make your vision a reality. This week we celebrate our community planners and reflect upon their experience as planners through our “Survey the Planners.” Check out what our planners had to say each day this week for their responses.

1.What is something unique, interesting, or important you would share with someone interested in becoming a planner?

“Planning needs to involve the community, so you need to be willing to listen to others and help create a vision that is community-based, with professional assistance, that we, as planners, can help with for it to become a success.” — Vince Harris, AICP, Director of Planning

“The profession allows for a large variety of jobs and work – both working with the public and private individuals, for private businesses and public governments, long- and short-term planning, mapping, AutoCAD and GIS, all types of land development – roads, transportation and parking, business and industrial parks, neighborhoods, parks, trails, etc.” — Julie Esterl, Associate Planner

“Every community has a different vision of how it wants to develop. Community planners have to take into account community history, demographics, strengths, and challenges when coming up with policies to realize this vision.” — Melanie Nieske, Planning Technician

“Planning is a broad field – so I would advise an aspiring planner to figure out what kind of work they really want to do and then find a planning school that will provide the best foundation to follow that path. Planners who work in land development typically find themselves serving as facilitators between the other related professionals. The role of facilitator provides a great opportunity to learn about all of the disciplines related to land development. Planners should embrace both the role and the knowledge-base because it enhances their value to the land development process.” — Ben Thurston, AICP, Senior Planner

“You become part of a larger community that can then seem small.” — Jessie Stonberg, Associate Planner

“Planning a community involves much more than an individual’s experience, expertise, or position. To be a true “community planner” you must have an active and engaged relationship with your community who may have ideas about the future of their city that differs from your own. There’s a fine line between “planning with” your community and “planning at” them.” — Andrew Baker, Associate Planner

“Planners are jacks-of-all-trades. We get to be negotiators, dealers, pretend-engineers, want-to-be-surveyors, real estate experts, presenters, and researchers. Someone who’s interested in planning needs to be adaptable and a multi-tasker, and love doing it.” — Ethan Watel, AICP, Planning Manager