A Planning Terms
Question and Answer Session

Franklin D. Roosevelt quote about extending planning to a wider field

Photo: No one quibbled about city planning terms on a rainy day a couple of years ago at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington. This quote from the Tennessee Valley Authority reads: "It is time to extend planning to a wider field, in this instance comprehending in one great project many states directly concerned with the basin of one of our greatest rivers."  It makes us planners smile.

This is the place for asking about the meaning of certain city planning terms you may have heard, but don't fully understand.  We hope many planning commission members and others who serve on the volunteer boards of villages, towns, cities, and counties will find their way here and ask what they don't know in quiet anonymity.  You can omit your name and your town too.

To be sure, we just started asking people to submit their community development-related questions in the early days of the site.  We didn't sort them.  Now that question-and-answer page had grown much too long for anyone but its writers to enjoy.

One of the categories that we saw developing is a request for definitions, or more often the story behind the story of the definitions, of certain terms.  These days anyone online can pick up the direct meaning, but the nuances of things not repeated in the internet echo chamber about the everyday reality of certain concepts leaves us scratching our heads.

Part of the reason that the language has become so complex is the regulatory aspect, whether that is through zoning, other development regulation such as subdivision regulation and environmental requirements, or form-based code and design review.

So in the form below, please fill in your question about the jargon, and we will do our best not only to tell you today's popular definition, but also to talk about our personal experience with the idea or technique, and possibly any emerging research we find interesting.

But sometimes planning terms are just copied from neighboring towns who used the same consultant, and often they haven't been changed in many years, so we should be so lucky as to have research on whether some of these things are effective or not!

We can make you look like you know what you're doing, whether you are a student, elected official, appointed board or commission member, or a citizen trying to be influential in the land use or comprehensive planning debates in your community.  Thanks for your participation.

Have A Question About a Term You Heard?

Would you like to ask the other visitors and/or the editors a question? This is a place to ask; you do not have to give your name if that makes you uncomfortable. Your question and an answer will appear together initially; visitors can add different answers and comments.

Other Questions and Answers

Click below to see contributions from other visitors, and answers.

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Visitor Question: I'm a new planning commission member. At my very first meeting last week, the commission was talking about BRT, and I was too embarrassed …

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Visitor Question: I was listening to planning and zoning the other night. One of the board members was arguing that live-work units would be a good thing …

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