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Land Use Academy Wins Award From CT Planners

Bruce HydeCLEAR’s Land Use Academy has won the 2014 Education Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association. The Academy, created in 2007, provides basic training for municipal land use commissioners on roles and responsibilities, legal requirements and site plan reading, as well as advanced training on emerging topics. As we all know, land use in the Nutmeg State is determined almost exclusively at the municipal level, by volunteer commissioners who are not necessarily up to speed on what they’re really supposed to be doing, or how.  The LUA is the principal organization in the state addressing this critical need for education. The Academy is founded on a strong partnership between UConn, the Connecticut Bar Association, the state’s Regional Planning Organizations, and the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (CT OPM).

The lion’s share of the kudos go to CLEAR Land Use Planning Educator Bruce Hyde, who oversees the Academy and does everything from agenda planning to lecturing to ordering the lunch and taking registration.  Bruce is a veteran of over 30 years of professional planning work in both Vermont and Connecticut, but that doesn’t mean that the LUA is “old school.” Most Academy lectures, for instance, include audience response interludes using “clickers,” allowing Bruce and our incredible stable of Bar Association lecturers to get the pulse of the audience on certain topics and/or quiz them on various points.

The CCAPA award letter states: “The Chapter has benefited from this program for years on end and we are delighted to recognize its efforts.” From our enormously self-serving but nonetheless observant perspective, we agree that the Land Use Academy serves an important role in helping Connecticut towns approach their land use decision-making in a defensible, thorough and conscientious manner.  And with very modest resources, the LUA has had a broad reach: since 2007 the Academy has trained over 1300 people from commissions in 156 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.  So, CONGRATS to Bruce to and to our barrister co-conspirators, most especially Rich Roberts, Ken Slater, and Mark Branse.

What the Heck Is Land Use Academy?

By Bruce Hyde

As a local land use commissioner you are faced with making decisions about how your community will grow, reviewing and approving applications for a variety of projects and balancing growth with natural resource protection. Sometimes court decisions change the rules, you receive conflicting advice, the information you have to work with is incomplete or you have to decide on a neighbor’s application. It can be a complex and confusing job. That’s where the Land Use Academy can help.

The Land Use Academy provides practical education for local land use decision makers in Connecticut. Our program offers both basic and advanced training and focuses on the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to serve effectively on a local land use commission. New land use commissioners and those considering becoming commissioners will find our courses especially useful, as will current commissioners seeking to update or refresh their understanding of fundamental land use topics.

Our principal program consists of a core curriculum of three courses offered as a day-long training, usually held on Saturdays. Members of the Planning and Zoning section of the Connecticut Bar Association provide instruction on such topics as Legal Responsibilities for Connecticut Land Use Commissioners, Conflicts Bias and Pre-determination, Running the Meeting and Making the Decision, and Conditions and Modifications.

The Academy collaborates with other CLEAR programs on various projects in an effort to create the most useful tools and resources for municipal officials. We are constantly updating the course curriculum to reflect recent court decisions and new developments at the state level. For instance, the Academy and NEMO have teamed up to develop a site plan review workshop that focuses on stormwater systems.

Visit the Land Use Academy website for details, call Bruce Hyde 860-345-5229 or just get down to it and REGISTER NOW!

Visit us online:  http://clear.uconn.edu

Below:  Participants at the Land Use Academy’s Basic Training this past fall.

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