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Old 06-29-2012, 09:35 AM
 
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Hi. I'm a rising college senior who is interested in going to graduate school for urban planning. I am fascinated by small, dense towns towns that have populations <5000 but are still the largest town in the local area. I am especially interested in old mill towns. Do these places hire people with masters in city planning? What type of jobs does some with an urban planning degree perform for such towns?
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:59 PM
 
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Unless they are an unusually rich small town, they probably don't have much need for many full-time planners, and generally don't have full-time elected officials or, sometimes, even police.
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:03 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinher View Post
Hi. I'm a rising college senior who is interested in going to graduate school for urban planning. I am fascinated by small, dense towns towns that have populations <5000 but are still the largest town in the local area. I am especially interested in old mill towns. Do these places hire people with masters in city planning? What type of jobs does some with an urban planning degree perform for such towns?
Probably working in some capacity with the city. Handy man or waste water control would be my first guess. Maybe if you got a job at the county seat, the planning and zoning department might be an idea. I will warn you however, depending on your geographical location, many small towns are not going to be real enthusiastic about a new-comer with big ideas trying to change how things are done. If this is your objective I would stick to the west coast, for sure.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:20 PM
 
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Even on the west coast, small towns are just as subject to "you ain't from around here boy" syndrome--for good reason, perhaps. But even the "liberal" small towns can be resistant to change--witness the Marin County community that opposed George Lucas' expansion of his film production company (as a result, he's going to move it someplace else and plans to use his current property for low-income housing.) Cities are living laboratories and incubators for new ideas, in part because of the concentrations of people and resulting increase in ability to network between like-minded groups and individuals.

I love small towns, having lived in a couple, but for an urban planner they are better appreciated as time capsules and places to observe (at least the small towns that haven't been gutted by big-box stores or swallowed by sprawl) rather than a place to try out your latest theories in urban planning.
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:57 PM
 
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Most towns that size have very limited budgets. Better off trying to find a state job or perhaps a position in the private or nonprofit realm, as sometimes small towns and cities obtain funding for consulting services. There are both national and state-based organizations that help smaller towns with urban-planning-related needs. (there seems especially to be some interesting stuff going on with Main Street revitalization efforts, etc.)
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Old 06-29-2012, 06:25 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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Many towns of the size you mentioned, if they're incorporated, have a volunteer Planning and Zoning Board which makes decisions based on Comprehensive Plans and Zoning ordinances which are periodically updated by contractual consultants.

If they're unincorporated the zoning would be handled by the County, usually, and they might have a P and Z staff. It would depend.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
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Most towns of that size wouldn't have their own planning departments; most likely any planning would be done by consultants.

And who knows, consulting firms located near large swaths of rural space might have staff member who specialize in smaller towns.
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Old 06-30-2012, 09:08 PM
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Location: Western Massachusetts
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My town (technically a city) has 30,000 people had a planning department, they've done some good things though I haven't followed them all that carefully. A few other towns of 15,000 -20,000 people in my area also have their own planning departments.

I agree with the other posters that 5000 is a bit too small to have a planning department.
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