New community development director quits

After only eight months on the job, Ashland Community Development Director David Stalheim announced his resignation this morning.

He has accepted the position of Planning and Development Services Director for Whatcom County, Washington, according to a press release posted on the city of Ashland's Web site this morning.

"Relocation back to Washington State is my primary interest in resigning my position," Stalheim said in the press release. "I severely underestimated my interest in staying in Washington when I accepted this position in Ashland. The personal and professional connections, and deep history in Washington, are important to my family and me."

Stalheim's departure marks a second failed effort to replace John McLaughlin, who for 14 years was Ashland's planning director. He resigned in 2005. An initial attempt to replace him failed when a candidate from Vail, Colorado turned down the city's offer because it did not pay what he felt he would need to live in Ashland.

Stalheim came from Wenatchee, Washington, where he was the planning director for that town. When hired by the city, he said he planned to work here until his 9-year-old son Ben graduates from high school.

"My wife doesn't want to move again before that," he told the Tidings during his first week on the job.

He added, at the time, that he should know within a year if Ashland is a good fit for he and his family.

"Politics and planning causes a lot of stress on [planners in general] and our families," Stalheim said this morning.

When he first got to Ashland, he noted that planning here was more political than it was in Wenatchee, saying, "Infill is not what is happening in Wenatchee."

Stalheim has begun to rewrite Ashland's land use code, a process that began before he arrived, but he added several amendments to the process.

Mayor John Morrison, in the press release, said he is "disappointed" Stalheim is leaving.

"He has made significant progress developing work plans and goals with the Planning Commission and I am confident the staff and City can maintain that progress." Morrison said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or .

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