Lincoln County was without a county planning director for nearly one year. Although small subdivisions were being processed, many large or major subdivisions for a total of 42 projects were put on hold. Those problems will soon be resolved as a new county planning director, Robert C. Davis, AICP, SMP from Hot Sulphur Springs, Co., was hired and began the position on August 29.
“My first priority will be to get those projects moving through planning and zoning,” Davis said. “Some of those projects have been waiting over a year.”
Davis has extensive experience working in rural and small communities combined with experience in larger cities. He worked in community planning in North Dakota, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and also in Saudi Arabia. In North Dakota, he worked as the planning director and Chief Resilience Officer, including flood mitigation planning for a city of 50,000. In Saudi Arabia, as a strategic planner, he was involved in expanding a city to diversify the income base for industrial development. Other experience included airport and transportation planning in Ohio and Michigan.
Most recently, Davis was the Community Development Director for Grand County, Colorado. Grand County is made up of several small towns in a mountainous area, similar to Kemmerer and Star Valley, that depend a lot on tourism and recreational activities for an economic base.
Davis said his experience will be a benefit to the Kemmerer/Diamondville area which, is facing a variety of industrial development projects and, along with Star Valley, will be facing a housing shortage.
“I think it is important to look at housing needs through the lens of smart development,” Davis said. “We need to focus on building where there is water and sewer and where it doesn’t detract from the natural beauty of the area. I like the challenge of growing smart with a separation of industrial development and residential development.”
Davis and his wife are living in Afton, which is only two minutes from the main planning office in Star Valley. He will supervise two planning technicians and one planner in the Afton office and one technician and a part-time administrative person in the Kemmerer office. He will base his operations in both the Kemmerer and the Star Valley offices.
“I love this beautiful location, the mountains and the opportunity it provides to explore the area,” Davis said. “The people here are pleasant and very accommodating. I like the diversity of challenges in Lincoln County; the north part being more residential whereas in the south the focus is on job creation. I have experience in both development and in preserving the natural beauty of the environment.”