Our office was recently asked if we had information on how to take good minutes during a plan commission hearing or meeting. This presentation by UW-Extension Specialist Dan Hill describes good agendas, good minutes, and good procedural practices to follow for all local government meetings.
Becky Roberts, Center for Land Use Education Specialist, notes that a plan commission acts in a quasi-judicial manner when it reviews specific development proposals such as subdivision plats and conditional use permits. When acting on these types of decisions, it must be especially careful to construct an adequate public record in case its decision is appealed. The courts want to see that the plan commission not only followed proper procedures but also applied the proper decision-making criteria to the decision at hand. It is not sufficient to say that the standards were or were not met. Instead, the plan commission should express why the standards were or were not met. This rationale does not necessarily need to appear in a written decision, but it should appear somewhere in the public record (Lamar Central Outdoor vs. Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Milwaukee, 2005 WI 117). If the plan commission does not record or make a transcript of its proceedings, the meeting minutes could be used to capture this type of information.
There is also a new requirement for plat approval that requires professional recommendations not in writing be made part of the “record”, which falls to whoever takes the minutes of the meeting in question. View the Statute.
Here is a good article by Claire Silverman of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities on meeting minutes.