The Cranston City Planning Department serves as staff to the City Planning Commission, which is empowered to draft and update the Comprehensive Plan and the annual Capital Budget. It also approves subdivisions of land, planned districts, and land development projects. The City Charter dictates these responsibilities.

In carrying out the above tasks, the department generates a great deal of useful information, which can serve the public in numerous ways. Using data from the US Census Bureau, this office estimates population trends, explaining variations over time for certain resident characteristics. This data is assembled into a report available to the public. Some of the topics addressed include school age children, the elderly, median income, housing characteristics, education, race, and ethnic traits.

The Planning Department also provides a variety of mapping functions to city officials and the general public, and maintains an inventory of 117 maps that indicate the specific uses of land on a lot-by-lot basis for the entire city. This information is useful to the staff as well as homebuyers, business owners, subdividers, and those seeking zoning variances, among others. A number of citywide maps showing specific classes of information (e.g. voting districts, zoning, school districts, public land, etc.) are also kept.

Periodically, ordinances in amendment of the zoning regulations or other elements of the City Code are drafted. These amendments are often implemented to address current issues raised by the City Council or the Planning Commission. Recent examples include the adoption of site plan review procedures, refined signage controls and regulations for the site of telecommunication towers.
Publications available at the City Planning Department include the City's Zoning Code, Subdivision and Land Development Regulations, and Census Data publications.

Under the broad heading of "miscellaneous activities" comes a host of support and advisory tasks. The Planning staff works closely with the Mayor's Office to set and carry out policies for growth of the City, its services, and facilities. The staff frequently undertakes similar planning involvement in school enrollment analyses, community development, economic development, and natural resource protection.

Property owners interested in dividing or developing their land are encouraged to seek staff advice before moving forward. These individuals are informed of the relevant regulations and procedures that must be followed. The Planning staff can assist in identifying land-use options available to the land owner not previously considered. In all cases, the Planning staff stands ready to assist any person in need of guidance on the City's growth management policies as they may relate to development of land, provision of public services, or the general health, safety, and welfare of Cranston's residents.

The City Planning Commission meets monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 in the City Council Chambers. These meetings are open to the public.