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Powers, Duties, & Responsibilities of Planning Commissions and Boards of Adjustment

April 27, 2013 @ 8:30 am - 12:00 pm



This workshop is designed for local officials, staff, and others who want a more thorough understanding of the powers, duties, and responsibilities of planning commissions and boards of adjustment.

What you will learn:

  • The legal authority and responsibility under Alabama law for planning commission and board of adjustment members – what each can do and cannot do.
  • Where the planning commissions’ authority ends and the board of adjustment’s authority begins; the relationship between the city council and the planning commission.
  • How the law says an aggrieved party can appeal a determination by boards of adjustment, building inspector, etc.

Topics Include:

  • How Chapter 52 of the Code of Alabama assigns responsibility for local planning among four governmental entities
  • How the comprehensive or master plan is implemented in part through various regulatory devices. (The role of the zoning in land use planning.)
  • How the board of adjustment serves as a “safety valve” to minimize hardships
  • Proper and improper uses of variances
  • Administrative and legal issues in local planning: The test of “hardship,” “takings,” and other topics
  • Setting basic standards for decision-making.


Katherine Ennis recently retired as the Director of Planning & Inspections for the City of Northport, Alabama, where she oversees the administration of the City’s zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, comprehensive plan and building code standards. Katherine has over 28 years of experience in municipal, county, and regional planning. In addition to her work with Northport, Katherine is an elected official sitting on the City Council of the City of Helena, Alabama. She has also served on Helena’s planning commission, design review board and chaired their greenway committee. Katherine is a member of the Auburn University Planning Advisory Council, has served nine years in various positions on the Executive Committee of the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association, currently as its President, and sits on the Board of Directors of Your Town Alabama. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Katherine moved to Alabama in 1980. She is a Graduate of Auburn University with Masters Degrees in both Community Planning and Public Administration and holds an undergraduate degree in Marketing. Katherine began her career in public service in 1982 with the City of Auburn where she worked for 18 years in the planning department. In 2000 she joined the staff of Shelby County’s Planning Department as the Senior Planner in charge of land development. In 2002 she took a position with Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission as Senior Planner, serving the three counties and ten cities in that region. In 2006 Katherine assumed her current position with the City of Northport. 

CAPZO Credits

0.35 credits are available for this event.

Registration / More Information

To register, visit the Alabama Planning Institute’s website or call 1-800-825-5862, ext. 4862.

This course is part of a six-course series that can be taken for CAPZO certification.


April 27, 2013
8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Fultondale Council Chambers
1210 Walker Chapel Road
Fultondale, AL 35068 United States
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Alabama Planning Institute
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