by Chris Skelly, APA-MA Chapter, Board Administrator
Have a question about site plan review, permit tracking, advertising a public hearing or curious what TE soils really are? While the rest of the world may be updating their status on Facebook, networking on LinkedIn or tweeting on Twitter, Massachusetts planners are online – on Massplanners. Massplanners is an email listserve devoted just to planning here in Massachusetts.
Post a question on the listserve and your post goes out to all the other subscribers around the state. Your question could be answered by a knowledgeable peer, by someone with recent experience in that area or your question might generate discussion with many differing opinions thrown into the mix. As a result, your inbox may expand by the hour. Whatever the outcome, the discussion on Massplanners is a valuable resource for all of us. Communication and good planning go together.
From its beginnings in 2002, Massplanners has now grown to nearly 600 members. A scan of the subscriber email list shows that users are largely professional planners including municipal planners, state agencies, regional planning agencies, non-profit agencies, consultant planners and student planners. However, many of the recent subscribers are planning board members looking for a method of increasing their knowledge as citizen planners.
This being Massachusetts, the discussion on Massplanners certainly focuses on municipal planning. While the basics of planning in Massachusetts such as the Zoning Act and the Subdivision Control Law are still best learned through personally reading state laws, reviewing relevant publications and attending workshops such as those through the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative, Massplanners offers a digital avenue for more in-depth professional discussion and clarification.
Hosted by the Computer Science Department at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Massplanners is administered by Christopher Skelly. Subscribing to the listserve is free and subscribers are subject to the following guidelines (issued on June 12, 2012).
MASSPLANNERS LISTSERV GUIDELINES
The Massplanners listserv is dedicated to providing a network for the sharing of information on Massachusetts planning. These guidelines are sent to the massplanner subscribers about once a month as a reminder. These guidelines are subject to change without notice. The primary goal of massplanners is to provide a network for the sharing of information related to Massachusetts planning amongst professional planners. A secondary goal of massplanners is to provide a statewide educational resource for student planners and citizen planners serving on planning boards and zoning boards of appeal.
As of June 2012, there are nearly 800 people on massplanners. Subscribers include professional planners from municipalities, regional planning agencies, state agencies, federal agencies and consulting planners. There are also student planners and citizen planners serving on planning boards and zoning boards of appeals. Other subscribers to massplanners include attorneys, engineers, conservationists and developers. Anyone currently working in planning or with an interest in Massachusetts planning is welcome to join massplanners.
Before posting a question on massplanners, please consider whether your question could be easily answered by reviewing educational resource material, reviewing your municipal bylaws, querying state law or using a search engine. Utilizing the collective time and resources of massplanner subscribers should not be a substitute for research easily accomplished on your own.
The goals of massplanners do not include utilizing this forum for broad global or national political and philosophical debates. If this type of thread evolves on massplanners, interested subscribers should continue their discussion off list.
Postings should relate solely to issues of planning in Massachusetts.
When you send a message or question to the list, include your full name and affiliation.
The subject line of your email should clearly describe the body text of your email. Subject headings such as “Friday Question, Need Help or Next Steps” do not adequately describe the body text of an email message and are not acceptable.
Do not send any messages that include commercial advertising for services or products. However, if you have personal experience with a product or service already under discussion, your input is welcome.
Do not send any messages that include personal attacks.
Do not send any messages that solicit for membership, donations or fundraising.
Do not send virus warnings or other chain mail.
Do not send any administrative requests to the whole list.
Maintain professionalism and respect to everyone whether they are a member of this list or not.
It is best to delete large threads from your posting and keep only the previous posters thread. Messages over 40KB are held for administrative approval and if the thread is too long your message will not be posted. If your email is over 40KB because of an attachment, you may want to contact the administrator directly so that it can be approved. If the attachment is too large, it is best to not include the attachment but to include a link to the document within your email.
Failure to follow these guidelines may result in your removal from the list or moderating of all postings.
Job postings for planning positions in Massachusetts are allowed on massplanners.
RFPs for planning services in Massachusetts are allowed on massplanners.
If you believe any subscriber is not following these guidelines, please contact the listserve administrator.
To join the listserve, visit this website and follow the instructions. http://mailman.cs.umb.edu/mailman/listinfo/massplanners
If you have any comments or questions on the list, please contact:
MassPlanners Email List Administrator