By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The Madison County Planning Commission named Bill Maxwell interim planning director during a special meeting on Thursday.
His appointment follows the resignation Friday of Planning Director Ken Ellis.
A retired General Motors Corp. employee, Maxwell served on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals for 22 years.
Maxwell has served as caretaker for the planning department before, most recently for six months before Ellis was named to the post in January 2011. He will be paid about $29 per hour, an amount equivalent to what Ellis earned.
How long it will take to hire a new plan director was not immediately clear.
Ellis' resignation came in the form of a single-sentence email message that said he was retiring from public service, effective immediately, said Wes Likens, planning commission president.
It was delivered two days after the Planning Commission met in executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
Ellis was not asked to attend that meeting, said County Surveyor and commission member Patrick Manship.
Commission members were circumspect in talking about the reasons for Ellis' sudden departure because it involves a personnel matter.
County Commissioner Steffanie Owens, R-South District, also serves on the plan commission. After assuming office herself in 2011, Owens said she was concerned about Ellis' attendance and talked with him about it. She was never concerned about his qualifications.
"He was very knowledgeable and very good at his job," she said.
Manship said he was aware that some county officials were concerned about Ellis' attendance record, but apparently didn't view it as a big problem.
"I had confidence in the work that Ken Ellis was doing," Manship said. "He was always prepared."
Efforts to reach Ellis over the past several days have been unsuccessful. The telephone number listed at his house off Scatterfield Road in Anderson has been disconnected.
And a U.S. Postal Service employee encountered at the home on Thursday said mail is now being forwarded to an alternate address. He did not say where.
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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