Mayor restructures positions, plans department of planning and zoning

Richmond Mayor Dave Snow plans to restructure positions to intensify the city’s focus on planning and zoning.

Ian Vanness, the director of infrastructure and development, left the city, and that position will be eliminated. The city planner position will become director of planning, and a new zoning administrator position will be created.

During the next budget cycle, Snow told Richmond Common Council the I and D department would become the Department of Planning and Zoning. Snow presented his plan to the council during its March 20 meeting.

The council unanimously approved two ordinances to facilitate the new structure. One amended the 2023 budget, and the other transferred funds between departments to accommodate the changes that will save the city $145.

Dustin Purvis, who began as city planner in January, will be interim zoning administrator while the city advertises that position and the director of planning position, Snow said.

“The job descriptions do change a little bit,” Snow said. “Our hope is to make our director of planning position a little more competitive, so that we have a higher retention rate moving forward in that position.”

The planning position will spend more time with the Richmond Advisory Plan Commission and focus on emerging planning and zoning trends, best practices and future goals, according to Snow’s presentation. That position will spend more time on commercial site plan review, planning updates, and permit and inspection processes and procedures.

The zoning position will facilitate Board of Zoning Appeals meetings and oversee site inspections for zoning violations and field checks of zoning permit requests, according to the presentation.

Oversight for public works, the airport and transit will shift to the director of strategic initiatives, Beth Fields. Vanness, who joined Richmond in July 2020 as city planner, replaced Fields as I and D director in November 2021 when she switched to the strategic initiatives position.

Street department

T.L. Bosell updated the council about the city’s street department, which maintains 200 lane miles of city streets, plus sidewalks, trees and road signs.

“The condition of the city’s infrastructure directly affects economic growth, tourism, industry and quality of life for Richmond residents and visitors,” Bosell said.

During 2022, the city used state Community Crossings grants to have 35 roads milled and paved at a cost of $1,650,000. City crews also strip-patched 26 streets for $120,000 and crack sealed nine streets for $130,000.

The sweeping crew collected 1,755 tons of debris. During winter, 684 tons of salt and sand were applied to city roads. The department also installed 538 signs and painted 25 miles of lane lines.

With the department’s urban forestry program, 114 trees were removed, 310 trees pruned and 74 trees planted, including 55 by the Tree Tenders program. Also 154 stumps were removed.

RP&L bids

Richmond Power and Light had a short board meeting after the council’s regular meeting March 20.

The plan was to award bids to mow RP&L’s main site and 21 current or former substations with mowing season approaching; however, General Manager Tony Foster instead asked the board to reject all five bids received March 6. The board unanimously did so.

Foster said the companies with the two lowest bids did not have required turf management licenses, and two other bidders were over budget. The fifth bidder did not provide all of the required information.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 29 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.