By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The Madison County Planning Commission voted 5-2 on Wednesday to offer the job of planning director to former County Surveyor Brad Newman.
The appointment is contingent upon the two sides reaching an agreement on salary and benefits, said Planning Commission attorney Jeff Graham.
Newman was one of seven people who applied for the job, said commission members.
The previous planning director, Kenneth Ellis, resigned abruptly last month after less than two years on the job.
After Ellis resigned, members of the commission decided that being a certified planner would no longer be a job requirement of the planning director.
“I think we need a manager up in that office,” said Wesley Likens, president of the Planning Commission.
“He’s going to manage the office and can direct people,” Likens said of Newman. “I think this is a good move.”
Not every member of the commission agreed.
County Surveyor Patrick Manship and County Councilman Rick Gardner, who also serves on the plan commission, voted against hiring Newman, saying other candidates were more qualified.
“My whole goal was to go for the most qualified person,” Gardner said after Wednesday’s decision. He is particularly concerned that Newman doesn’t have a background in building codes and inspections. A part-time employee currently handles those duties.
“I’m sure Brad will get busy and do his job,” Gardner said. “We’re just going to have to make sure that he gets up to speed quickly.”
Newman, 43, currently is chief deputy in the county recorder’s office. He was the elected county surveyor from 2004 to 2008, and worked in that office from 1988 to 1999. He also worked in the Information Technology Services Department.
He concedes he doesn’t have a planning background and isn’t a qualified building inspector. But that was true of the past several planning directors as well, Newman said. What he brings to the job is detailed experience with land platting, which is one of the most common duties required of the planning office.
He said he would work closely with members of the plan commission to address concerns raised by Gardner.
The planning director has broad responsibilities concerning land use and other related matters.
The director administers local building codes and manages building inspections; is the zoning administrator and enforces zoning ordinances; serves as flood plain administrator; supervises the planning staff and day-to-day department operations; prepares and implements the county’s comprehensive plan and handles applications for permits, and requests for rezoning and variances.
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