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County searching for new planning/zoning head

Posted: February 5, 2013 4:58 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2013 5:00 a.m.


Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter is currently looking for someone new to lead the county’s Planning and Zoning Department. Former director John Newman left the position in December after serving since June 2006. Carpenter didn’t clarify the cause of Newman’s exit, simply categorizing it as a “personnel matter.” Assistant County Planner Carolyn Hammond will head the department on an interim basis.

No time frame exists as far as finding someone new, Carpenter said, but he hopes to get the position filled as soon as possible.

“We want to get the best person we can. It’s going to be a mix of experience, background, someone who will fit in well with the community, and someone who deals well with the public,” Carpenter said.

The director’s role involves a number of responsibilities, but is summarized in a job description listed on the county’s website as coordinating the activities of the department to ensure the proper enforcement and administration of the county’s zoning ordinances and building and land development standards. The position also involves the implementation of the county’s comprehensive plan. The job description additionally calls for a bachelor’s degree, with a graduate degree preferred, in architecture, engineering, regional or urban planning, or a closely related field

Carpenter stressed the importance of the director’s job within the county’s operations, while also noting the new hire would need to show the ability to tactfully and effectively handle requests from county residents. 

“It’s a pretty critical position in trying to ensure that the county’s ordinances are enforced, while at the same time dealing with the public in a fashion that allows them to feel that the county is working with them and for them and not against them,” Carpenter said.

He also pointed to the benefits of having a director with local knowledge due to the need to handle certain issues on a community level.

“I wouldn’t limit it to Camden, the Midlands, or just South Carolina. It’s still going to be based on who is the best person, who will be the best fit for the job that we’re looking for. I’m not going to limit it to anywhere,” Carpenter explained. “Having said that, there is a logical value to having someone who has a better feel for local and statewide issues. That kind of person is going to probably be more likely to be able to step into a job and be able to do it in a fashion we’re looking for.”

In order to cast a wide net, the county is advertising the position, which entails a starting salary listed at $57,418, through a number of different agencies.

“We’re advertising it regionally in statewide organizations, professional organizations, associations of counties, and municipal associations. We’re looking regionally for the best person we could find,” Carpenter said.   

He also said that while some larger counties split up planning and zoning, most applicants with a certain level of experience have strong knowledge of both.

“It’s one of those fields that tend to have a lot of overlap. Planners tend to be very involved in zoning, especially in smaller counties, he said.

Additionally, Carpenter said while the county’s comprehensive plan helps to provide a “snapshot” of the community’s needs, the actual development of the document is linked more to the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission than the department director. 

“As far as enforcing the comprehensive plan -- of course those are state mandates, and that plan is updated every five years -- but the actual day-to-day activities are more focused on the zoning administration than on the planning aspect of it.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission, which meets once a month, works with the Planning and Zoning Department, serves as an advisory board to Kershaw County Council, conducts public hearings and makes recommendations related to zoning requests.



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