Planning staff larger

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The city has hired three new employees to work in the planning department alongside City Planner Andrew Smith.

A planning specialist, a community improvement specialist and a land use planner started work this week. Smith had requested help to process site plans and assist with other duties in his department.

Aldermen gave verbal approval in their February work session for Smith to hire people for those roles, Mayor Phillip West said.

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Figures on their salaries or whether the money for their salaries is in the planning department&8217;s budget were not available.

West, however, did say &8220;some monies were already there&8221; for the hires.

Smith was meeting with the new staffers Wednesday morning and could not be reached for comment.

According to employment ads run by the city last month, the planning specialist will assist Smith with tasks related to the planning and historic preservation commissions.

Those include processing development requests to insure compliance with the city&8217;s ordinances.

The Land Use Planner Walter Houston will coordinate the site plan review process. He will review plans to make sure they comply with city ordinances and will help prepare reports and recommendations for zoning changes, variances and other land use matters.

Community Improvement Specialist

Anita Smith will find and process code violations and work with neighborhood associations in cleaning up their areas and in educating the public on the importance of property upkeep.

Planning Specialist Dawn Williams will assist with the planning commission and historic review commission.

West also has said he wants to hire a community development director. In January aldermen approved $100,000 to establish a Community Development Department to spearhead projects to improve housing and infrastructure and revitalize downtown. West said this week he&8217;s talked with at least one person who may be interested in the community development director position and hopes to fill the position in 30 to 45 days.