At the request of Town Manager Michael Scott, the Smithfield Planning Department will be reorganized. Scott was tasked with reviewing every department during his first 6 months on the job.
Scott recommended some minor changes in the planning department, which at least one council member felt didn’t go far enough.
The department has three positions: a planning director, senior planner, and code enforcement officer.
The Code Enforcement Officer quit last October. Since then, a part-time administrative office assistant has been helping with some of the work load.
Scott said a part-time code enforcement officer, working no more than 30 hours a week, would attract more applicants. He also recommended making the part-time office assistant into a full time position.
“The Administrative Office Assistant has also improved the overall professionalism of the office due to the increased attention to customers who set appointments or walk into the office asking for assistance with planning and zoning matters,” Scott said in a report to the town board.
Mayor Pro Tem Emery Ashley said Scott should have the leeway to make the personnel changes since it can take place without changing the current budget for the department.
Even though the board voted unanimously for the reorganization, one councilman told WTSB News he believes the planning department should be dissolved and the functions taken over by Johnston County.
Some business owners believe the planning department and their Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is stymieing growth because of their burdensome rules and requirements.
WTSB News emailed Smithfield Mayor Andy Moore for a comment about the UDO, which is currently being reviewed by a committee. Moore did not respond to our email.
The Towns of Clayton and Selma recently relaxed some of their UDO regulations in an attempt to become more business friendly.