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Council OKs merger of downtown, planning departments

The Hendersonville City Council on Thursday authorized a merger of the city's downtown and planning departments into a new Community Development Department.

Lew Hollway, the downtown development director, heads the merged department. He told the council that the reorganization would realign staff resources to devote time to long-range comprehensive planning, advanced planning techniques, community visioning, economic growth, transportation planning and the promotion of affordable housing and workforce housing.

The reorganization makes for a staff of eight and enables the city to fill a zoning code enforcement officer position that had been frozen. Jamie Carpenter, a former Main Street director in Tryon, becomes the downtown manager. Senior planner Daniel Heyman, an attorney, was slated to become the planning division manager until he "threw me a gut punch" and announced that he had accepted a job with Pisgah Legal Services, Holloway said.

When council member Jennifer Hensley said parks should also be a priority, Holloway assured her that that would be part of his scope.

"You're going to hear me talk about a comprehensive plan update a lot," he said. "The goal is to bring to you kind of that community understanding of what needs to be in that."

"And hopefully it's an actionable plan," Hensley said.

"My goal would be nothing less," Holloway responded.