Well, the first day was pretty good. I attended a couple of decent presentations. The first one was by a UT prof and graduate student on the topic of 'megaregional' planning. I am definitely going to be doing some additional reading on the topic but at first glance it doesn't seem that useful, at least not in my particular role as a municipal planner. We can't even seem to get planning at the county level so it seems to be a bit ambitious going much beyond that. I do think the concept, as presented, makes a lot of sense in one regard. I think getting stakeholders around the table and talking is probably the most important aspect of this concept. You have so many issues that are broad enough that no particular level of government or NGO can address them. But if you get everyone reading off the same page of music then possibly they can act collectively to address the issues they're facing.
The other session I went to involved the role of urban planners in natural gas production. I don't recall all the particulars but I thought it interesting that the cities represented addressed it through the Specific Use Permit process. That's kind of an arcane zoning term but suffice it to says that allows the implementation of conditions to address the negative impacts there. Gas operations take a really heavy toll on the road systems leading in and out of a well due to the weight of each truck and the number of trips in and out of the site. One of the panelist's cities has the capability to implement a cost sharing agreement with the well operators.
Anyways, that's just the nutshell version. I'll probably be posting more once I get home and have a chance to do a little web surfing on the topics