Nix begins work as new city planner

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — Robert Nix’s first five days on the job have been a lesson in the two L’s — listening and learning.

Nix, who began work as city planner Monday, has spent this week studying planning, preservation, zoning and building codes, meeting colleagues and familiarizing himself with current applications.

“I’ve had everyone come and introduce themselves to me,” Nix said Thursday morning in his office at Natchez City Hall. “I’ve been greeted here better than I’ve been greeted anywhere.

“You’re not going to learn everything about the city in four days,” Nix said. “It takes time to get it all down as it does anywhere.”

While reviewing applications for Thursday evening’s Natchez Planning Commission meeting, Nix said his initial task as city planner is maintaining a smooth operation, expediting pending applications and supplying the planning commission with adequate information to make quick, sound decisions.

Currently, Natchez Building Inspector Paul Dawes, who served as interim city planner prior to Nix’s arrival, and City Engineer David Gardner have managed applications submitted by Premier Gaming Group, which plans to develop a 45,000-square-foot casino at Roth Hill.

Nix said he has met with Gardner, Dawes and Premier Gaming President Kevin Preston, and has offered suggestions about the development.

“For a project of this magnitude, it’s important to dot the I’s and cross the T’s … to avoid litigation for the city and the developer,” Nix said.

“(The casino) I think will generate employment and more tourism, and will be a real asset to the community once it’s developed.”

Nix said in addition to learning the ins and outs of his job, he is looking forward to hiring two additional employees. However, he is not certain whether those employees will be hired this fiscal year, which ends in October. Mayor Jake Middleton and the Natchez Board of Aldermen will begin budget reviews next month.

“I think (two more employees) will be adequate for the department,” Nix said. “The city’s finances impact decisions about staffing, and I’m sure the city will assist me if I can’t fully staff the department this fiscal year.”

Nix urges anyone who has questions about a pending application to call his office at 601-445-7518.