National Community Planning Month

October is National Community Planning Month! Established in 2006 by the American Planning Association, National Community Planning Month is celebrated each October as a way to highlight the role of planners, including citizen planners and the importance of good planning in our communities. Planning is essential for our communities to prosper and maintain balance and cohesiveness. National Community Planning Month is a chance to raise the visibility of planning, the planning profession, and to highlight the positive impact it has on your community.

The City of Johnston recognizes local citizen planners; including members of the City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment for the important role they have in the planning process. Each of these areas are featured below as they play a critical role in the planning and growth of our community. 

Throughout the month, please be watching the City’s publications and social media channels where we will be featuring the work of the City Council, Board of Adjustment and Planning & Zoning, the work of the planning staff, as well as the implementation efforts of our many planning related efforts that we’re all involved in, specifically the Town Center Redevelopment Plan, the Johnston 2030 Comp Plan, the Gateway Redevelopment Plan and the Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Management Plan.


Comprehensive Plan
The comprehensive plan is a document designed to guide the future actions of a city by presenting a foundation and vision for the future with long-range goals and objectives for all activities that affect the local government. This includes guidance on how to make decisions on public and private land development proposals, the expenditure of public funds, and issues of pressing concern. Johnston’s Comprehensive Plan, the Johnston 2030 plan was adopted in 2010 following a nearly yearlong public engagement process and provides a vision for future land use, transportation, utilities, parks and recreation, housing and natural resources and contains an implementation plan to help guide the establishment of the vision. Click here (PDF)to review the Comprehensive Plan.

Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Management Plan
In February 2010, the City Council adopted the Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Management Plan. This plan was the City’s first comprehensive review of the stormwater management system in the community and included a review of more than 25 miles of urban stream corridors, and created a vision for how stormwater management could be better addressed in the community. While still being implemented, to date, the plan has resulted in a paradigm shift in how stormwater is treated and managed in the community, including updated stormwater standards for development, increased use of best management practices (BMPS) on all City projects, and prioritized needed improvements to the stormwater system. As a result of this plan, a stormwater utility was created in 2012 to provide dedicated funding for stormwater management, including the creation of a homeowner grant program which provides matching funds for BMPs installed on private properties. As a result of the significant efforts that have resulted from this plan, the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded the City of Johnston an Environmental Planning Award for Implementation in 2016. More information on the stormwater utility can be found here

Merle Hay Road Gateway Redevelopment Plan
In 2013, the City Council adopted the Merle Hay Road Gateway Redevelopment Plan, this plan focuses on the redevelopment of approximately 123 acres located immediately north of I-35/80 along Merle Hay Road, the “Gateway” into Johnston. Based upon a market analysis, this plan envisions the redevelopment of destination retail, mixed density housing, improved park amenities and trail access, including a water trail access to Beaver Creek. Using this plan as a guide, City staff and elected officials continue to actively seek development opportunities in this area, additional information on the plan can be found here (PDF)

Johnston Town Center Redevelopment Plan
In 2017, the City Council adopted the Johnston Town Center Redevelopment Plan, building off of a 2007 Redevelopment Plan for the area, this plan focuses on the 18.5-acre corner located in the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Merle Hay Road and NW 62nd Avenue. This area has long been envisioned as Johnston’s “downtown” or “town center.” This planning effort focused on how the area could be developed to meet the needs and desires of Johnston’s residents for more options for retail, dining, and entertainment. The resulting plan focuses on commercial development built around a traditional town square which could be a community gathering point for civic events as well as events promoted by the adjacent business and anchored by a new City Hall, and bordered on the east by a new trailhead. To move this project forward, the City has been actively acquiring properties in this area and has been going through an RFQ process to select a development partner who would lead the construction of this exciting new center. Look for an announcement and additional information on this process in the next 60 days! For more information on the Town Center, click here


The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission consists of seven members appointed to five-year terms by the Mayor. The Commission serves as a recommending body, responsible for development and updating of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and reviewing all proposed development plans, including rezonings, site plans, plats, annexation and other studies and plans. As citizen planners, the Commission plays a vital role in developing plans and reviewing development within the City to ensure the goals and recommendations of the City’s Comprehensive Plan area carried out. To learn more about the Planning and Zoning Commission or to review their agendas and minutes be sure to visit the commission page on our website.
PZ Group Photo
The Johnston Board of Adjustment consists of seven members appointed to five-year terms by the Mayor. The Board serves as a quasi-judicial board, responsible for hearing variance requests to terms of the Zoning Ordinance, to permit special exceptions, and to hear appeals of determinations of the Zoning and Building Codes of the City. As citizen planners, the Board plays a vital role in ensuring that all property owners have an avenue for review and interpretation to any Zoning Ordinance requirement.  Click here to learn more about the Board of Adjustment or to review their agendas and minutes.
The Johnston Community Development Department in part, includes three planning positions:
  • David Wilwerding, AICP, Community Development Director
  • Aaron Wolfe, AICP, Planner
  • Clayton Ender, AICP Candidate, Planner
Each of these staff members have achieved certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Planners achieve this certification, through a combination of college education, years of experience, passing a comprehensive exam, and committing to adhere to the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Certified planners pledge to uphold high standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct, and to keep their skills sharp and up to date by continuously pursuing advanced professional education. The City of Johnston is proud to employ professional planners who’ve committed to the high standards necessary to maintain AICP certification.