Clarion Associates is a national land-use consulting firm with an unusual combination of talents in planning, design, law, and real estate economics. We specialize in developing creative solutions to difficult land use, design, and development questions. Clarion is particularly known for its expertise in plan implementation. We represent both public- and private-sector clients on a variety of planning and zoning matters.
We take pride in making connections and creating synergies between our core practice areas. We leverage our team’s diversity and capitalize on our individual strengths to provide our clients deeper insights and better solutions to complex land use challenges. Our nimble size and flexible structure enables us to have firm principals directly involved in every project and to provide tailored solutions to each client. Although some firm members are lawyers, Clarion Associates is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice.
Since our founding in 1992, we have worked across the country with hundreds of communities across a broad spectrum of place types—from rural to suburban to urban. We understand that every community is unique and requires its own tailored set of planning and implementation tools. We bring an unparalleled depth of experience in helping to craft thoughtful solutions for our clients.
We are recognized nationwide as leaders in community planning and plan implementation. Driven by a passion for what we do and a desire to continually push for new approaches to old problems, we publish on a wide variety of topics and frequently speak at national and state conferences.
We have had repeated success in organizing and leading community-driven processes that yield results. We work hand-in-hand with elected and appointed officials, staff, citizens, and diverse groups of internal and external stakeholders to build trust in the planning process and widespread support for the ultimate recommendations.
While many communities face similar planning challenges, there are no simple solutions or common answers. We bring our depth of experience, our knowledge of best practices, and our sensitivity to local conditions to bear on each project—developing tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.
“[Clarion] was very responsive to the often times shifting priorities during this code re-write and were also great at diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of the old Code and assessing what was most needed. They were always willing to share their concerns if they felt we were on the wrong track. Since this project had a very significant public involvement component, the Clarion team was able to demonstrate great skill at facilitating meetings and focus groups, listening and extracting issues and addressing concerns. Clarion also identified and incorporated innovative new policies to address ongoing issues like affordable housing and sustainability, and established trust and respect in working with the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.”
“The Clarion Team as a whole [is] probably the best consulting group we have worked with in recent memory.”
“In all, Clarion’s deliverable – a public hearing draft of the Unified Development Code – made approximately 1,000 changes to the existing ordinances (i.e., former code chapters on zoning, subdivision, signs, land preservation, and planning). The team stayed within budget and on schedule for those phases of the project that the consultant team had within its control. Ultimately the City of Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission approved the ordinance unanimously, and the City Council followed suit with a unanimous approval.”
“[The Clarion Team] proved knowledgeable, evenhanded, and eminently professional in their approach to a complex assignment and a diverse, highly engaged community. I daresay [Clarion] made zoning interesting.”
“Clarion Associates possesses an extremely deep and rich knowledge of land use, zoning, and regulatory issues. From our first interactions, the Clarion team has been an exemplary partner with City staff; our collaboration over the last four years has been the best experience I have had in my thirty-year career working with an outside consultant. The most valuable aspect of their consultancy was their deep appreciation for when and how to provide the professional advice of the consultant team, reflecting experience from many other cities and national standards and norms, while respecting Philadelphia’s traditions, context, and circumstances.”
“[Clarion] was able to connect with our community members during the process. The process was well-thought out and the public was engaged at all times. Clarion demonstrated flexibility to revise the code based on feedback, or if not, to clearly explain why the code shouldn’t be revised. The result is a Unified Development Ordinance which is embraced by the community as it reflects the community’s values.”
“Clarion impressed us with their ability to effectively facilitate the public participation process. Whether a large public meeting, a small work session with key stakeholders, or a city council meeting, Clarion proved to be a master at presenting complex information, soliciting feedback, and providing expert guidance. Finally, we found the staff at Clarion to be a genuine joy to work with. They shared our excitement about working to improve Duluth’s zoning code. In all of our interactions, they were professional, responsive, helpful, and friendly. In working with them, we as City staff felt like we learned so much; it became an educational experience as well.”