UIC Urban Planning and Policy Student Association, 2018
 

Robert Blackie

MUPP 2013

Lendlease

Assistant Zoning Manager

 

Can you describe your work and how your planning degree contributes to it?

My primary responsibility is to secure zoning & building permits in various jurisdictions across the U.S. for large national business chains. I must also secure any health and air quality approvals as needed. I need to research application requirements for each jurisdiction and carefully track the permitting process from start to finish.

 

What do you like most about your current job or related work in planning?

It's always something new and different! Every jurisdiction has different laws and regulations that must be adhered to. The same project may require no review at all from one jurisdiction, but an entire public hearing process in another. I work with a relatively young and energetic group of planners and I enjoy the camaraderie and differing backgrounds everyone brings to the table.

 

What advice do you wish you had gotten as a MUPP or, conversely, what advice would you give to young planners today?

 

There is a lot of demand for private sector permitting specialists in many different type of industries, from wireless telecommunication to real estate development. I wish in my formal education I had more hands-on permitting experience and practice reading different types of zoning codes, including euclidean zoning, performance zoning, and form based zoning codes. There is a lot of theory in formal education, but unless you intern in a jurisdictional planning department you don't really learn the nitty gritty of ordinances and permitting. It would have helped me tremendously when I first started out but I was able to pick it up quickly thanks to be general theory knowledge.