Prince George's County Planning Department

Public Participation Program

The public participation program is a critical element of any planning process. Adequate public notice and comment are vital to ensuring that the planning documents created truly reflect the views of the citizens and organizations in the county. Therefore, the public participation process for the Historic Sites and Districts Plan will encourage participation by all stakeholders affected by the plan. Stakeholders include citizens, historic property owners, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood organizations, schools, religious organizations, civic organizations, local business groups, the building industry, the county government, municipalities, and advocacy groups.

The public participation program has two related components: outreach and engagement. Outreach is accomplished through a variety of methods that advertise opportunities for public participation in the planning process. Outreach is conducted throughout the planning process, but is mostly concentrated during the period of plan formulation. The ultimate goal is to inform the greatest number of people about the project. The project team intends to use a variety of outreach techniques, including:
  • Press releases to generate media support for the project with articles in local newspapers
  • Newsletters (electronic and conventional) to keep the public informed of the planning process and can be posted in gathering places and in public facilities (libraries, schools, and recreation centers)
  • Flyers to advertise project events by e-mail, U.S. mail, and for distribution at public facilities
  • First-class mailings to historic property owners to provide notice of public hearings
  • Public service announcements on television and radio as well as short interviews on the county’s community-access channels
  • E-mail surveys to encourage feedback from a variety of different stakeholder groups to gain different viewpoints
To engage the public in the planning process, the project team will use the following approaches:
  • Facilitating dialogue on planning issues through workshops, focus groups, and community meetings
  • Continually expanding the project mailing list with the sign-in lists from each successive meeting
  • Providing maps illustrating historic sites and districts that can be marked up by meeting attendees
  • Interviewing, in person or by phone, business owners, community organizations, and public agency staff unable to attend public meetings
  • Facilitating early morning discussions geared to groups with time constraints, such as business owners and people not available for evening meetings
  • Attending homeowners association, civic group, and religious organization meetings to present updated information about plan concepts and to seek responses
  • Providing a project website that incorporates all meeting information including meeting handouts, summaries, and a meetings calendar
  • Providing evaluation forms at all public meetings to solicit feedback to the project team on the quality of the public participation program and planning process.
During the pre-planning phase of this project, in the summer of 2007 staff and HPC members participated in a historic preservation listening session held in Subregion 6. As resource members of other master and sector plans, staff has gathered data on preservation issues from many parts of the county. In addition, such issues arise frequently at the regular monthly meetings of the HPC.

Three general community meetings will be scheduled for late fall 2008. At these meetings the public will have an opportunity to learn about the planning process and how they can participate in further discussions. Suggestions resulting from these meetings will be collected, reviewed, and incorporated into the planning process.

In winter 2008 and early spring 2009, follow-up focus group meetings with stakeholders will be held to address specific topics or issues. At the conclusion of the planning process, in the late spring of 2009, three meetings will be held to share the plan’s preliminary findings and provide the public with an opportunity to shape the master plan as it develops.

The HPC will be part of the stakeholder process at the beginning of the plan formulation period. When the preliminary plan meetings occur in the late spring of 2009, the HPC will again be asked to comment at that time before the plan is submitted to the Planning Board for their review and comments.

Performance criteria through which the effectiveness of this public participation program can be measured will include the following:
  • Has information been widely disseminated?
  • Has there been opportunity for ample public comment?
  • Were the concerns and comments of the public adequately addressed?
  • How many stakeholders participated in the process? Evaluation forms will be provided at all public meetings to provide feedback to the project team on the quality of the public participation program and planning process.