County close to filling director post

WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County department shaken up by turnover should get a new leader soon.

Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass said Friday he expects officials to announce the hiring of a new planning and zoning director in the Office of Community Development in the next week or so. Interviews were completed recently, Vass said.

The hiring of the new director would come about two months after county administration decided to reorganize the office and change a couple of job titles and their responsibilities. Bradley Polk announced his resignation in August as director of the office of community development – a branch of the county government that covers planning, zoning and subdivision, land conservation, economic development, building inspections, erosion control and stormwater management. Polk left in early September after 18 months.

Rather than fill Polk’s position, county administrators have combined the economic development responsibilities of the post with those of the Tourism Director Jenna French. Administrators then created and advertised for the position of director of planning and zoning.

Meanwhile, longtime zoning and subdivision administrator Joyce Fadeley resigned Oct. 12, County Administrator Mary T. Price confirmed by email Thursday. Officials are preparing to advertise the position.

“We are currently interviewing for the Director of Planning and Zoning,” Price said. “We anticipate making an appointment to handle the zoning administration responsibilities on an interim basis during the recruitment process.”

The county is referring all zoning and subdivision matters to Jason Smith, a certified erosion and sediment control program administrator. Smith also is a certified zoning administrator, Vass said. The county code indicates that the Board of Supervisors makes the appointment of the zoning administrator. Price said she anticipates the board will appoint Smith as the interim zoning administrator.

The Director of the Office of Community Development Brandon Davis left the county about two years ago to take the executive director position with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission in Front Royal. The county hired Polk to replace Davis. Prior to Polk’s departure, County Planner Garrett Morgan left for a job in the Tidewater area. The county had hired Morgan in 2014 to replace Patrick Felling who moved on to serve as the director of solid waste management. The county hired Jill Jefferson to replace Morgan, currently the only staff person listed in the planning division of the office. Jefferson also handles land conservation matters for the county. The county has seven employees handling building inspections, some of whom also work the front desk of the office and interact with the general public.

Earlier this year the county also lost its building official, Michael Dellinger, who left for a job closer to where his family lives in Rockingham County. Dellinger at the time rejected reports that he left Shenandoah County because he had little work to do as its building official given the lack of construction. Data from the county showed that the office remained active.

The county cut the number of employees in the office several years ago when the economy soured and with it commercial and residential development. In recent years, the Board of Supervisors has passed budgets that did not include salary increases for staff even when the county administrator recommended employees receive some pay raise.