Planning Official Trainings

Planning Official Trainings are for Arkansas Planning Commissions and individuals that work with those Commissions. Attendees include Planning Commissioners, Board of Zoning Adjustment members, Mayors, Fire Chiefs, city planners, and anyone else that wants to learn more about the work of Arkansas Planning Commissions.

The curriculum is developed and instructed by experienced Arkansas planners. Six courses are offered. Each course is 3-hours long and held live online using Zoom. These courses are interactive and include case studies, a mock Planning Commission Meeting, quizzes on content, Q&A, and discussion.

You are welcome to take one course, a few of the courses, or all six courses. Those who complete all six courses and a capstone become Certified Arkansas Planning Officials.

Course Descriptions

The courses are held on Wednesdays. We alternate between offering the courses in the evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 pm and the mornings from 9:00 am to noon. You are welcome to take one course, a few of the courses, or all six courses. Each course costs $65 per participant.

Course 1: Planning Overview

This introductory course provides an overview of the history of city planning, the city planning process, and the legality of city planning.

Course 2: Planning Commissions & Boards of Zoning Adjustment

This course focuses on Planning Commissions and Boards of Zoning Adjustment including:

  • their roles, powers, and duties;
  • establishing a planning map;
  • planning rules, resolutions, and ordinances;
  • ethical principles for boards and commissions;
  • and meeting basics.

A mock Planning Commission meeting allows for immediate application.

Course 3: Zoning & Rezoning

The Zoning and Rezoning Course includes:

  • the purpose of zoning and statutory authority;
  • rules for zoning;
  • the zoning map;
  • zoning issues;
  • types of zoning;
  • case law impacting zoning decisions;
  • rezoning application review;
  • and zoning case studies.

Course 4: Subdivisions

Focused on subdivisions, this course includes how a subdivision is defined, subdivision regulations and code, platting procedures, plat approval, and subdivision application review and approval.

Course 5: Conditional Uses, Development Review, & Variances

The fifth course in the series includes content about conditional uses, Conditional Use Permits, site plan review, development regulations, and variances.

Course 6: Advanced Planning Tools

Requirements: Courses 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

This course puts everything together by focusing on neighborhood transformation. It includes the elements of good neighborhood planning and the planning tools that are used to lead to community success. A case study allows for discussion and application.


The 2024 series of courses offered on Wednesday mornings is open for registration. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER ONLINE.

Becoming a Certified Arkansas Planning Official

Individuals that complete all six Planning Courses and a Capstone Home Study become Certified Arkansas Planning Officials. The Capstone can be started after completing Planning Courses 1-5. The Capstone includes:

  • Reading a book about planning from a list provided by APAC.
  • Attending a Planning Commission meeting. The meeting must be held in a city other than that of the candidate, have a population of 4,000 or greater, and the agenda should include several cases that are to be decided.
  • Writing a paper that includes (1) a book response, (2) a review of the Planning Commission meeting attended, and (3) thoughts about how the Planning Commission training has related to the candidate’s work with Planning Commissions. [All courses must be completed before submitting the written essay.]

All requirements must be completed within four years.

Partnership Between APA Arkansas and APAC

Since 1999, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA Arkansas) has partnered with the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium (APAC) to offer training for Arkansas city planning officials. APA Arkansas oversees the curriculum and instruction. APAC handles the program administration including advertising, registration, technology, course completion tracking, etc.

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You can join our mailing list by completing this Google form. You will receive program updates and registration information as soon as it becomes available.

Contact Us

Phone: 501-916-6050

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