|Mayor Tommy Battle Announces Major Changes in Urban Planning Department
(HUNTSVILLE, AL) - Mayor Tommy Battle announced a major reorganization in the Huntsville Urban Planning Department to better align the department's resources for processing development applications and performing long-range community planning.
Among changes in the department: Shane Davis, Director of Engineering, will assume the role of Director of Urban Development on October 1; Marie Bostick, Interim Planning Director, will be named Director of Planning Administration; and a nationwide search will begin to hire a new urban planner to lead long-range community planning.
"We believe this new structure will help position the City to be proactive in our master planning, to update our zoning codes, and to be more responsive and efficient in our building and permitting processes," said Mayor Battle.
Among the Mayor's priorities for the new Director of Urban Development:
Coordinate a national search with community input to hire a new urban/long-range planner
Coordinate large projects for the City, such as Redstone Gateway Park
Improve Customer Relations/Customer Service
Create a "One-Stop-Shop" for permits
Create a comprehensive master plan for the City
Davis will lead the Urban Development Department by overseeing the City's building and planning functions. This includes urban planning, engineering, inspection, natural resources, water pollution control, and traffic engineering. Mayor Battle believes Davis's extensive background in these disciplines, along with his successful management of multi-million dollar projects, make him highly qualified to lead the City's multifaceted building and trade services. Davis will be working alongside City Administrator Rex Reynolds and reporting directly to Mayor Battle.
"Shane has impressed me with his administrative skills, his "can-do" attitude, and his ability to handle large, complex projects," said Mayor Battle. "I have every confidence he will take the reins and make our urban planning department a national model."
Davis says he is looking forward to the challenge. "I am excited for the opportunity of taking a solid foundation of teamwork, along with the addition of a new urban planner, to fulfill the Mayor's vision of an Urban Development Division that partners with our community," said Davis. "I believe the Mayor's new structure will present our great City the resources to excel in future development that our community will be proud of."
The day-to-day operations of planning will be directed by Bostick. Her depth of experience includes planning supervision of commercial and residential development, environmental projects, flood mitigation grants, slope development, zoning and annexation policies. An avid environmentalist, Bostick has been an advocate of the City's greenways, bikeways and trail programs.
"The reorganization of the urban development department will allow for greater emphasis to be placed on the development of progressive planning strategies, which will enable us to foster a healthy, vibrant community," said Bostick. "It's exciting to be a part of that team and have the opportunity to work with an urban planner who will focus on the long range, comprehensive planning elements of our community."
One of the most exciting aspects of the reorganization is Mayor Battle's decision to add an urban/long-range planner to the urban development team. This individual will help the City determine the best uses of land and resources for development, recreation, transportation, and quality of life. Further, the urban planner will work closely with economic development to devise new ways to renovate and revitalize declining areas of the City.
"One of my primary charges for this new planner is to work with Huntsville citizens to identify community goals, and to help marshal resources to accomplish these goals through community organizations, developers and government," said Mayor Battle. "We would like to see a comprehensive master plan for the entire City, one that includes appropriate use of form-based codes that allow for the best use of our resources.
The bottom line for the City's urban development department is to match knowledge and expertise with action. "Huntsville is a smart City, and we want to be smart in our growth and development," said Mayor Battle. "With this team working with our community partners, we are going to be the envy of every city in the U.S."
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF AN URBAN PLANNER?
The key difference between traditional planning and urban planning is approach. Traditional planners work within the idea of "place," and they shape the physical layout of cities by zoning specific areas for different types and intensity of development, such as residential commercial, industrial, high- and low-rise structures. They work with engineers and architects to plan for the location of major public facilities including transportation corridors and utilities.
Urban planners, however, anticipate how a city will function and how it will look as it develops or redevelops in the future. They take a holistic approach that includes aesthetics, function, transportation, character, employment, shopping options, pedestrian access, green space, environment, and cost of living. An urban planner will take a big picture approach by taking a step back from immediate concerns and to look at a project's impact from a broader perspective. They will use demographic data to monitor lifestyle and work trends that will affect future development and preferences.
An urban planner may anticipate, for example, how a series of buildings will fit together visually; how they will be linked to the infrastructure of streets, sewers, water lines and electricity; how will they fit into the local economy and what the demand will be for the types of services provided by the buildings that are constructed. Who are the potential users of the buildings and the spaces between the buildings? How will users get to and from the area? How will the presence of the buildings affect the natural environment of the area? How will the development as a whole affect the neighborhood residents in terms of job opportunities, shopping options, noise, community character, and cost of living? The list can go on.
Shane A. Davis, P.E.
Director of Urban Development
In 1997, Shane Davis's job as a project engineer and project manager in for PDR Engineers helped shape the direction his professional career would take. During Davis' four years at PDR, he gained a strong foundation in planning, design and research as he worked with numerous cities on the Memphis Master Planning Assistance for City Growth and Annexation Strategy along with various projects for roads, public infrastructure, and economic development, including the Memphis Riverwalk.
In 2001, Davis joined the City of Huntsville's Water Pollution Control Department as its Superintendent of Operations. He worked closely with the director on issues affecting operations and was charged with helping make planning decisions that would affect future sewer and growth operations. Managing the department's $30 million operating budget, Davis worked closely with the Director of Urban Development on City Growth and Capital Improvement projects. He managed the department's $56 million SRF Loan Program, and communicated regularly with the EPA, ADEM, and ALDOT. Davis worked on the design and construction of new City Wastewater Treatment Plant expansions and infrastructure.
Davis's strong managerial and organizational skills led the City to name him as Director of Engineering in 2008. In this position, Davis has continued to prove his abilities to excel in developing and implementing goals as they pertain to economic development, master planning, public/utility infrastructure, and stormwater management. He successfully manages $100 million of the City's Capital Improvements Program and works closely with the Mayor's office on economic development opportunities. When BRAC elected to move jobs to Huntsville, Davis led the City's effort on key roadway projects, is overseeing the $1 billion LEED certified Redstone Gateway project at the Arsenal entrance, and worked directly on annexations for the western corridor. Davis manages the Sewer Master Plan, Subdivision Development Division, and works closely various state and federal agencies including the Army Corp of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife, ADECA, EPA, ADEM and ALDOT.
Davis earned his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from UAHuntsville and holds an Alabama Professional Engineering License. He is a member of the Alabama Society of Professional Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, National Water and Environment Federation, Alabama Water and Environment Association, and the Alabama Water Pollution Control Association. Davis and his wife, Jennie, have one daughter.
Davis officially begins his new role as the City's Director of Urban Development on Oct. 1.
Director of Planning Administration
An Alabama native and Grissom High graduate, Marie Bostick began her planning career with the City of Huntsville in 1988 having earned a B.S. degree in Science and Geography and Sociology from Old Dominion University and a M.A. degree in Urban in Regional Planning from Alabama A & M University.
Bostick's initial planning role with the city was to specialize in subdivision/site plan review and greenway planning. In 2000, she became Assistant Director of Current Planning with primary responsibilities including supervision of subdivision/land development, environmental projects, including flood mitigation grants and slope regulation and zoning and annexation policies. Since the retirement of the City's Planning Director Dallas Fanning in 2010, Bostick has served as Interim Director of Urban Development and has overseen planning and development functions.
Bostick's professional career has allowed her to be actively involved in the residential and commercial development process of the City, including the update of the City's Subdivision Regulations, and Zoning Ordinances. She also oversaw the transition of the zoning enforcement functions of the City from the Inspection Department to a newly created division of the Planning Department, entitled Zoning Administration. Further, Bostick has had the opportunity to be intimately involved in the establishment of the greenways, bikeways and trail programs for the City of Huntsville, which provide an integral part of our City's great quality of life and offer a balance between our built environment and natural spaces.
Personal interests for Bostick are focused in environmental preservation and enjoying the outdoors. A Trustee on the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama, she has served as chairman of the Lands Committee and Secretary of the Board. Bostick also was an original member of the Governor's Alabama Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, on which she was honored to serve for ten years.
Bostick is a member of the Huntsville Sports Commission and an avid fan of the Huntsville Stars.
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