Progress seen toward county-wide planner

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Steps continue to be taken toward having a land-use planner for all parts of Marshall County, according to the man in charge of building and zoning issues at the County Courthouse Annex.

In cooperation with the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Directors, the county and three municipalities are trying to stabilize planning services for their residents, County Building Officer Don Nelson said.

Various land-use issues have been examined by a state planner through a contract with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Those state employees assigned here have provided professional advice on planning and zoning. However, it's been from several individuals assigned to the jurisdictions here over a period of several years. One after another, when business employment opportunities arose, they quit state employment. There was also a state planner serving this community who accepted a job with another municipality beyond the Marshall County line.

To stabilize the service and possibly have one planner for the county and its municipalities, the JECDB and the local governments are planning to hire one person for all four governments after the state contract is terminated.

"I have a resolution before the county commission meeting to terminate the state contract," Nelson said.

Marshall County commissioners meet next on June 28. In anticipation of that, the county has announced a job opening.

"The state requires a 90-day notice," Nelson said. "If the resolution is approved, the contract will end Sept. 30 and we'd start a contract with another planner on Oct. 1.

"Half a dozen respondents showed interest and I hope the state will still pursue this" opportunity to improve and resume services here, Nelson said. "We're looking at all options, including the state."

Nevertheless, one applicant has qualifications that would appear to give her the edge over others who showed interest, Nelson said.

"There's one person we're looking at," he explained. "We're in negotiations. I'm talking with her next week."

To further the overall plan to have one planning employee, the four local governments, created a Planning Advisory Committee and Nelson is the project manager.

Sharon Caton is the full-time planner for Kingston Springs in Cheatham County and she appears to be the best candidate so far, Nelson said. "She would do this in addition to her duties in Cheatham County."

The job will pay for 25 hours per month. The job was advertised regionally and locally. There were no local applications.

"One jurisdiction may need a planner when another might not," Nelson said. "All jurisdictions are working together. We're just trying to get along and it's been good."