L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Center for Public Policy to House Land Use Education Program

July 3, 2018

By Brittany Keegan

The Wilder School’s Center for Public Policy is now home to the acclaimed Land Use Education Program, the nation’s first structured training program for people who serve on local planning commissions.

The program, which has won state and national awards, was developed in 1984 by Mike Chandler, Ph.D., formerly of Virginia Tech and who recently joined the Wilder School as the director of the Land Use Education Program in the Center for Public Policy. He created the program in concert with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the late John Marlles, a 1983 graduate of the Wilder School’s Master in Urban and Regional Planning program who served as director of planning for Henrico County.

The nation’s first structured training initiative for members of local Boards of Zoning Appeals followed in 1987.

Other education initiatives involving Chandler include the Virginia Institute for Planning Commissioners; annual graduate seminars for certified planning commissioners and certified zoning appeals board members; and, more recently, an annual legal seminar for citizen planners, planners, zoning practitioners, zoning appeals board members, and local elected officials. Since 1980, he has trained or educated more than 15,000 Virginians in matters involving land use planning and zoning practices.

The Land Use Education Program has been an invaluable resource for Virginia’s network of local governments and boasts an impressive record, said Robyn McDougle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Public Policy.

“We are pleased Dr. Chandler will be a member of our center staff and will work to ensure the Land Use Education Program enjoys a smooth assimilation within the Center for Public Policy. We are committed to building on the program's reputation in the coming years,” she said. “The program will help us achieve our long-standing commitment to advancing research and training that informs public policy.”

The center’s five units — the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, the Office of Public Policy Outreach, the Performance Management Group, and the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory — have a strong history of working with public, nonprofit and private agencies, as well as local community and elected officials, in fostering a stronger commonwealth, McDougle said.

“We look forward to growing the Land Use Education Program and working with Virginia's network of citizen planners, zoning practitioners and local elected officials,” she said. “We encourage anybody with questions or thoughts about land use education in Virginia to contact us.”

If you have comments about the program, you can email McDougle at rdmcdougle@vcu.edu or Brittany Keegan, Research Coordinator, at keeganbs@mymail.vcu.edu.