Planning chief chosen

and Mike Green

Mayor John Morrison announced Wednesday that Planning Manager Bill Molnar has accepted the position of Community Development Director subject to approval by the City Council on Nov. 6.

"Bill has strong ties to this community and has worked in the Community Development Department for 20 years," Morrison said. "His knowledge of state and local land-use law and his sensitivity to the diverse needs and desires of the community has served Ashland well."

Outgoing Community Development Director, David Stalheim, said Molnar is among the top planning personnel with whom he has worked.

"I think that Bill Molnar and Maria Harris are some of the best planners I've ever seen from a policy side of things," Stalheim said. "They know this community. They know what this community needs. They can help lead a lot of the future planning issues within this community.

"I think that Bill is an excellent choice for the position. The stability that I think he'll provide to the department and the community makes him a logical choice."

City Administrator Martha Bennett was optimistic about the potential for vision and leadership in Molnar's appointment.

"He knows and loves Ashland. He's a very experienced planner," Bennett said. "He has a great deal of professional ethics and I think he's got a vision for planning both in terms of the community, but also in terms of the organization that fits Ashland."

Molnar graciously accepted the nod to replace Stalheim.

"I am humbled by the opportunity to take such a position in a town known for its many achievements and its rich tradition of providing an exemplary level of community planning," Molnar said. " Many might feel these are tumultuous times for the city. Others including myself, however, see this as a time filled with optimism &

as a time for the community to take the occasion to rediscover what it wants to be and where it wants to go. I look forward to being a part of that process."

Molnar feels confident in what he considers a highly competent staff.

"The position represents an exciting challenge that presents many opportunities. It's nice to know I have such a strong team working with me."

Molnar's experience and contributions over the past 20 years in community development in Ashland include his work establishing Ashland's Site Design and Use Standards, the Hillside Development Standards, North Mountain Neighborhood Plan, Affordable Housing Requirements for Annexation and Zoning, Ashland Local Street Standards, Floodplain Management Program and major revisions to the comprehensive plan during the early 1990s.

Molnar served as interim community development director from September of 2005 through January of 2007 and is the lead staff person for the development of the Croman property and development of the wetland riparian ordinance.

The position of the community development director is appointed by the mayor with confirmation of the City Council. Molnar's appointment will be an agenda item for the council at their regular meeting on Nov. 6.

Stalheim has accepted the position of planning and development services director for Whatcom County, Wash.

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