Independent TribuneNews Town hires new planner

Town hires new planner

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The Town of Harrisburg’s contract for planning services with Cabarrus County is set to expire at the end of June, but rather than renew the contract, town officials decided to add a full-time planner to its staff.
The newly-hired town planner, Josh Watkins, has been at work for about two weeks, and has spent much of that time learning the lay of the land.

By Jonathan E. Coleman
[email protected]
The Town of Harrisburg’s contract for planning services with Cabarrus County is set to expire at the end of June, but rather than renew the contract, town officials decided to add a full-time planner to its staff.
The newly-hired town planner, Josh Watkins, has been at work for about two weeks, and has spent much of that time learning the lay of the land.
“Harrisburg has reached that level where they need personalized attention,” Watkins, 25, said. “Having someone devoting all of their time to planning and zoning for the town is more beneficial for the town than having someone who is looking out for several municipalities. Not that the county has done a bad job. Now it will just be more personalized.”
Originally from Ansonville, N.C., Watkins is a 2004 graduate of Appalachian State University, where he earned a double major in Geography and Community and Regional Planning.
After college he worked as a planner in Cornelius before taking a job in county planning with Davidson County.
“After working with Cornelius, I realized I didn’t have any experience with county planning, which is so different.”
While he enjoyed the experience, Watkins learned his passion was for city planning and decided to bring his experience back to Harrisburg.
“City planning is a lot more hands-on,” he said. “It’s a lot smaller area. You can get to know a lot more people. It’s a higher level of detail, whereas in the county it’s just a general overall plan.”
The new planner position will cost the town about $50,000 annually for salary and benefits, Town Administrator Carl Parmer said, but much of that figure would be balanced out by eliminating the town’s contract with the county for the planning services. In the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the town paid $22,500 for planning services, plus an additional 50 percent of the fees the county collected on Harrisburg projects. In total, the town paid the county nearly $38,000 for planning services in 2006-07.
“We’ve previously paid the county for those services,” he said. “Now (developers) will be able to (meet) here and not have to go to Concord.”
Parmer said Watkins would have plenty of opportunity for hands-on work in his new role and to give the town more personalized attention.
“I have great optimism for what he’ll get done for the town,” Parmer said, adding that the town will contract with the county through August to allow for a smooth transition. “Josh hasn’t shied away at all from the challenge of it.”
According to Parmer, Watkins will serve as the town’s planning department, meeting with developers and ensuring that development plans work within the scope of the town’s Unified Development Ordinance.
He will also work closely with the town’s zoning administrator, Wayne Krimminger, which Watkins said he looked forward to, having worked with Krimminger during his time in Cornelius.
Watkins lives with his wife, Sara, and their two dogs in Salisbury.

• Contact Jonathan E Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.


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