History of MACP

by Carol Thomas, Phil Herr and Allan Hodges | December 17, 2008

In 1973 James (Jim) Woglom of Metcalf and Eddy invited the planning consultants in the Boston area to a meeting at his office in Boston to consider  the  Comprehensive Planning Assistance Program (i.e., the Section701 Program), funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Government agencies were using these funds to prepare comprehensive plans, which the private consultants considered unfair competition and the result “boiler plate plans.” There also were administrative problems with the program; e.g., the long delay in getting 701 Federal applications approved, receipt of final payments for completed “701” projects, and excessive required paperwork.

Planners attending this meeting were Jim, Charles E. Downe, Morton Braun (the Planners Collaborative), Stephen Waxer, Philip Herr, Carol Thomas (Thomas Planning Services), Charles Zettek of Edwards and Kelcey and Carl Zellner. Under Jim’s leadership the organization of planning firms was created and called Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners (MACP). John Brown, representatives of Anderson Nichols, Kenneth KreutzigerBurt Ketcham and Duncan I. Hughes of Parsons, Brinkerhoff, Quade & Douglas, Inc. soon joined the group.

At the same time the Massachusetts legislature was considering licensing of planners.  The proposed bill, which was drafted by Morton Braun and patterned after the Michigan law, was opposed by the State Association of Land Surveyors and the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers because it did not grandfather their members as planners.  The first action of the MACP was to testify against this grandfathering. The spokespersons were Sidney N. Shurcliff, who was a signer of the letter of opposition, representing the Boston Society of Landscape Architects and Jim Woglom.  The bill did not get out of Committee.

Meetings of MACP moved to the offices of Anderson Nichols. Under the leadership of Carl Zellner and the effort of the representatives from Anderson Nichols, bylaws were prepared, a Code of Professional Ethics was adopted and a consultant directory was prepared. Monthly brown bag lunch meetings were held usually at the office of a member company.  Originally the focus of the meetings was on competition from government agencies, uniformity of plans that resulted from these plans and ethics.

In the years since  the 1970s  the MACP has grown to an organization of over 60 firms with a goal of improving the quality of planning and cooperating with other organizations in development of legislation benefiting planning in the State.

MACP is one of only three states where such an organization of private planning consultant firms exists; the others are Michigan and New Jersey, which both license planners. The MACP has not endorsed licensing planners. Neither have the American Planning Association (APA) and its professional subsidiary, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

There are two national organizations representing consulting planners.  One is the Private Practice Division of the APA, an organization of individual consulting planners.  The other is the American Society of Consulting Planners, an organization of planning consulting firms.  Both organizations collaborate on projects, issues and meetings.