By NATHAN GREGORY
More than 30 people applied for Starkville’s Community Development Director position, and the list has been narrowed down to four candidates who will interview for the position Feb. 6 at the Starkville Sportsplex.
That list includes Joseph Cooley, Charles C. Ross, Donovan Scruggs and William Snowden.
City Personnel Director Randy Boyd said each candidate has significant experience in all areas related to the position.
“All have experience in municipalities that include university settings. All have good experience in developing and managing projects, ...
budgets and in the area of planning and directing other employees,” Boyd said. “All have experience in the development and implementation of form-based codes. All have experience in municipalities of comparable size and/or larger than Starkville.”
Cooley is currently the director of community development for the city of Doraville, Ga. He also has served as director of planning and development for the town of Highlands, N.C. He practiced land-use law at Smith, Gambrell & Russell in Atlanta before starting his own part-time, private land-use law practice. He has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, a master’s degree in city and regional planning and a juris doctorate in land-use, zoning and growth management.
Ross is currently director of community development in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a native Mississippian with a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology, a master’s degree in community planning and experience at the municipal and federal government levels in planning and development, environmental impact, land use and economic development.
Scruggs, a Mississippi State University alumnus, is the planning manager of Hattiesburg and works as an independent town planning consultant in Ocean Springs. He was the director of community development and planning in Ocean Springs from 2000-07. He has a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in public policy and administration, each from MSU.
Snowden has a firm specializing in comprehensive planning as well as planning and zoning. He was director of office of economic development in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for nearly three years. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, master’s degrees in political science and public administration as well as city planning.
The selected candidate will replace former City Planner Ben Griffith, who left the post in October.
In December, the board approved a recommendation by Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill to change the name of the Building, Codes and Planning Department into Community Development. The organizational shift places the engineering division under the community development director’s management along with development services, planning and code enforcement.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, who helped prepare the revised job description for the position, said the board of aldermen’s approval to adopt a form-based code as a means of setting architectural and land use guidelines helped bring interest from a strong pool of candidates.
“The potential for what (the four candidates selected for interviews) each can bring is really exciting,” Dumas said. “They all bring something a little different. Some have many years of administrative assistance and others bring more of a creative side. It will be interesting to go through these interviews and see who shines as the right fit. It was encouraging to see so much support. It’s a real testament to what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last four years from a planning side.”