Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission offers key insights on student project

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, PC faculty and students convened with the City of Peoria’s Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss one of the spring 2021 student projects. Project Cities students Leslie Carnie, Raymundo Cabrera, and Patricia Cooley were joined by PC Program Manager Steven Russell, and longtime Project Cities faculty member Meagan Ehlenz, to share with City of Peoria commission members about the Spring 2021 student project, Affordable Housing Study: ADU Strategies, marking the first-time students have been able to speak in person with City staff since the start of COVID-19.

“Engaging in the process and interacting with the Commissioners and City Staff members was very impactful for me as well as the project.  The city-specific data they provided regarding ADU perceptions, preferred uses, and potential pitfalls will be crucial to the successful completion of our report.”
Patricia Cooley, Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning Student

Commission members highlighted several opportunities for ADU’s, including increased financial stability for the City of Peoria and aid to at-risk populations, such as seniors and entry-level professionals. Members also pointed out several challenges for implementing ADU’s, drawing attention to the potential increase in parking and increased housing density.

“Working with Project Cities gives my graduate students an excellent opportunity to learn from and develop a meaningful set of recommendations for one of our local communities. Peoria has been a terrific client for our Planning Workshop, enabling us all to learn about the ways zoning policy and housing options—including accessory dwelling units or ADUs—can intersect to support long-term community goals. And, after a year of Zoom classes, it was terrific to see my students back in action and facilitating a conversation with local elected officials!”
Meagan Ehlenz, Project Cities Faculty

Insights gained from the meeting highlight how essential opportunities to meet with city staff are, not only for the students in their work but also for the Peoria staff to learn more about the student process for their research. Project Cities would like to thank Peoria’s continued collaboration with PC students and faculty. Watch the full commission meeting on Peoria’s YouTube channel HERE


Students in this course will present their key findings at the Project Cities-Peoria End-of-Semester Showcase on 4/14. More info at

Project Cities is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N) and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the Sustainable Cities Network. Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter.