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Institute for community planners set for Feb. 26-27

Melissa Mitchell, arts writer; 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois towns and cities committed to developing successful community visions through the adoption of comprehensive plans recently became eligible for assistance in reaching that goal, thanks to legislation enacted by the Illinois General Assembly. That legislation – and what it can do for communities – is the focus of an annual planning institute at the University of Illinois Feb. 26-27.

"Local Planning Matters: How to Respond to Statewide Planning Assistance Acts" is the theme of this year’s institute, which will be held in Room 407 of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana. The annual event is sponsored by the department of urban and regional planning and organized by the department’s Professional Development Program.

The institute includes a variety of sessions designed to interest community planners and elected officials, as well as members of the public. Some address specifics of the Local Planning Technical Assistance Act, signed into law in August 2002; other sessions cover related topics, such as economic development, community visioning, housing, land use, community development, planning regulations, planned growth and historic preservation. Case studies highlighting Illinois communities that have successfully developed comprehensive plans – including Carthage, Peoria, Pittsfield and Rantoul – will be examined as well.

At the heart of many of the issues on the agenda, according to institute organizer Pattsi Petrie, is how to create and sustain what she calls "livable communities."

"What makes a livable community? The Local Planning Technical Assistance Act encourages communities through the process of visioning and developing a comprehensive plan to find the answer to this question," Petrie said.

The institute’s presenters will include university faculty members from Illinois and Indiana, planners, state and municipal officials, and professionals from business and non-profit organizations.

Christopher Silver, the head of urban and regional planning at Illinois, and Mike Kelleher, director of the Stevenson Institute of Community & Economic Development at Illinois State University, will present opening remarks at the institute, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 26. Concurrent morning and afternoon sessions are scheduled from 9:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., punctuated by a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. Kathleen Conlin, the dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts at Illinois, will speak at the luncheon.

The institute continues that evening with the Louis B. Wetmore Lecture, presented by Norm Krumholz at the Plym Auditorium, Temple Buell Hall, 611 E. Lorado Taft Drive, Champaign. Krumholz, a fellow in the American Institute of Certified Planners, is a professor in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, and the author of the book "Revitalizing Urban Neighborhoods." Krumholz will discuss "New Roles for Planners in Sick Cities.

The Wetmore lecture is named in honor of emeritus professor Louis B. Wetmore, who in the 1950s and ’60s headed what was then known as the department of city planning and landscape architecture at Illinois.

The planning institute resumes on Feb. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, with a workshop for planning commissioners. Additional sessions on planning matters will be offered concurrent to the workshop.

The institute concludes with a luncheon talk by Gene Bunnell, the author of the recently published "Making Places Special: Stories of Real Places Made Better by Planning." In the book, Bunnell presents case studies featuring exemplary planning practices in cities throughout the United States, including Providence, R.I.; Madison, Wis.; and San Diego.

Co-sponsors of the institute include University of Illinois Extension, University of Illinois at Chicago, Campaign for Sensible Growth, and the Illinois chapter of the American Planning Association.

A complete list of sessions and other activities, as well as registration information and a fee schedule is available on the Web at, or by contacting Petrie at (217) 244-7424, or