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Director of Planning and Urban Design

Location:  City of Asheville, NC Download:  City of Asheville, NC - Director of Planning and Urban Design Brochure

The Community
The City of Asheville, with a population of 83,393 people, comprises an area of approximately 45.2 square miles in Western North Carolina. The City is the county seat of Buncombe County, the largest city in Western North Carolina and the eleventh largest city in the State. Asheville is the regional center for manufacturing, transportation, health care, banking, professional services, and shopping. 

Nestled between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville is known for its natural beauty. The city's rich architectural legacy, with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical styles, is the perfect backdrop to the energy that emanates from the locally owned-shops and galleries, distinctive restau­rants and exciting entertainment venues. Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Estate, an 8,500-acre estate built by George Vanderbilt and completed in 1895 that includes the Biltmore House & Gardens, the Antler Hill Village & Winery, excellent lodging and restaurants and the Biltmore Spa. There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, national and state for­ests, and white water rafting. A renowned tourist destina­tion, Asheville was named one of 12 must-see travel desti­nations in the world by Frommer's travel guides.


The City of Asheville, which was incorporated in 1797, operates under a Council/Manager form of government. The seven-members of City Council are elected at-large for staggered terms of four years. City Council, which acts as the City's legislative and policy-making body, selects the City Manager, who is the City's Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for implementing the policies and programs adopted by the City Council. The City's 1,100-person workforce provides a high level of City services including fire and police protection, planning, economic development, development services, public works (streets, traffic, and solid waste and stormwater services), parks and recreation, transportation and water.

The Asheville Way

Continuous Improvement: Asheville employees are trained professionals who improve service delivery by balancing needs, resources and innovation.

Integrity: Asheville employ­ees demonstrate character with courage, honesty and pride.

Diversity: Asheville em­ployees value and respect a diverse community, work­force and ideas.

Safety and Welfare: Asheville employees value the safety and welfare of our employees and the citizens we serve.

Excellent Service: Asheville employees strive to address needs with courtesy, compassion, timeliness, efficiency and commitment

The Department 
The City of Asheville's Planning and Urban Design Department is dedicated to providing sound, professional land use guidance as well as the highest level of technical and customer service to achieve safe and healthy residential neighborhoods and sustained economic growth. The department promotes the orderly, harmonious use of land and improved quality of life for Asheville's diverse community and future generations. The Planning and Urban Design Director will be expected to utilize sustainable planning practices to implement the City's strategic goals. 

The Position
The Director of Planning and Urban Design performs responsible, complex, administrative and professional work directing the City's comprehensive and design program. This position is appointed by and reports to the City Manager and is not covered by Civil Service Law.

Responsibilities include:

  • The program development and implementation of a variety of planning and development projects.
  • The application of specialized knowledge and skills in the formulation, installation, modification and improvement of master and subsidiary plans for the city's physical and community social and economic development, including the formulation and maintenance of a comprehensive land use plan. Frequent contact with the print and television media and requires considerable discretion in handling public and confidential information.
  • Serves as a technical advisor to the city council and city officials on matters relating to planning and urban design.
  • Provides and/or supervises staff liaison function for a variety of city boards and commissions and outside agencies, including the planning and zoning commission, downtown commission, and , historic resources commission.
  • Supervision is exercised over a staff of professional, technical, and supporting personnel.
  • Considerable tact and courtesy must be exercised in frequent contacts with city, municipal, state and federal officials and private citizens.
  • Work is performed under broadly outlined goals set by city council and is evaluated through conferences and the analysis of program achievements by the city manager's office.

Duties and Functions

  • Plans, organizes and directs the activities of professional, technical and clerical personnel engaged in a variety of planning and urban design issues; develops and administers departmental policies.
  • Serves as technical planning advisor to the City Manager, City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission, Downtown Commission, Housing and Community Development Committee, Historic Resources Commission, and other officials; provides assistance to other City departments and public agencies involved in long-range and current planning.
  • Prepares and administers departmental work programs and budgets; prepares and reviews contracts and agreements; drafts recommendations; and reviews applications for federal and state funded projects.
  • Analyzes City problems, needs, programs, services and requests for assistance; recommends project priorities.
  • Prepares comprehensive reports based upon careful research and study of planning problems.
  • Supervises the gathering and analysis of statistical and narrative data pertaining to population growth, land use and economic development.
  • Directs the preparation of various materials for presentation to elected officials, appointed boards, community groups and concerned citizens; participates in meetings and public hearings to explain recommendations and planning proposals.
  • Coordinates City planning activities with affected municipal, state, federal and private agencies.
  • Coordinates educational and public relations activities related to planning, economic development, community development and preservation.
  • Directs the selection, recruitment, and development of professional, technical, and support personnel.
  • Gives oral presentations regarding planning and urban design to various City and community groups; serves as spokesperson for the Planning and Urban Design; attends conferences and other professional development activities.

 Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Thorough knowledge of the principles, practices, and objectives of urban planning.
  • Thorough knowledge of economics, sociology, public administration, and quantitative methods and research techniques as related to planning.
  • Thorough knowledge of best practices for sustainability planning and implementation.
  • Thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of engineering, architecture and physical design as generally related to planning.
  • Thorough knowledge of the environmental and socioeconomic implications of the planning process.
  • Thorough knowledge of the current literature, trends, and developments in the field of urban planning.
  • Thorough knowledge of the principles of supervision, organization, and administration.
  • Considerable knowledge of the procedures and practices of community development and economic development; including the management of federal and state grants.
  • Skill in the collection, analysis and presentation of technical data and planning recommendations.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with subordinates, public officials, community leaders, and professional groups.

Education and Experience
Interested candidates will have a Master's Degree from an accredited college or university with major coursework in Planning or Public Administration and at least ten years experience in progressively responsible leadership roles that include significant work in local government; an equivalent combination of education, training and experience may be considered.  An American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification is highly desired.

The Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate needs to have previous land use and planning experience to include long-range planning, ecological planning, urban design, historic preservation, and a strong understanding of the principles and practices of smart growth and sustainability efforts involving economic, social, and environmental sustainability policy development and implementation. Knowledge of form-based code and comprehensive plan development will be beneficial.

The ideal candidate must be a forward thinking, visionary leader with a genuine interest in community engagement. This individual should have proven experience in building and maintaining a broad spectrum of partnerships both internally and with the community to ensure that a common vision is enacted and supported. Excellent communication, interpersonal and presentation skills are essential along with strong leadership abilities that place a high priority on customer relations. 

The ideal candidate must have the capacity and interest to be an effective mentor and leader for staff.  Strong collaboration and team building skills will be necessary for this individual to be successful; advanced written and oral communication skills are imperative. 

The City of Asheville is offering a competitive salary commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits package. Relocation assistance will also be available for a successful out of area candidate. 

How to Apply
Applicants should forward a cover letter and resume to:
Reference: DPUD

Affion Public
2120 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011
Fax: 717-214-8004


**Position Open Until Filled**

Posted: 03/22/2022