Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

New planning director homegrown

June 30, 2005

It didn't take Leavenworth County native Chris Dunn long to realize his home has seen drastic change in recent years. One look at the number of residential and commercial developments in progress throughout the county told him as much.

"It's amazing," said Dunn, a 1981 graduate of Leavenworth High School and, as of last week, the county's new planning and zoning director. "This isn't the Leavenworth County of 1980."

Dunn's tenure working for his hometown county government began in the middle of June. He replaces former planning and zoning director John Zoellner, who resigned in April.

Dunn, 42, has served previous stints in planning and zoning. He is a former county planner in Ford County and a former tribal planner for the Kickapoo Indian tribe. He said he enjoyed his tenure with the Kickapoo tribe but that working in government is "traditionally more of what I want to do."

"It was a really interesting job and I really enjoyed working with the people," he said. But, "Of all the jobs I've had, I enjoyed being a county planner most."

When the opportunity to work for Leavenworth County presented itself, Dunn jumped at the chance. Although he's been on the job for less than a month, he's still giddy at the chance to work in his hometown.

"We've always considered Leavenworth our home, and my folks still reside in Leavenworth," Dunn said. "This opportunity came open : it was a chance to work in a place I like, it's near my folks, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity."

Dunn said he'd been impressed with the county's operation thus far and that it compared favorably to his former employer in Ford County, where the county seat is Dodge City.

"Leavenworth County seems to be much more advanced in their processes," he said. "The support system and the infrastructure seem to be much more sophisticated."

Dunn said his top priorities will be providing frontline support of the planning and zoning department, getting "good, accurate" information to those interested in zoning changes and building permits and heavily emphasizing customer service.

"No matter who comes in here, we're going to do our best to handle their situation," he said.

Dunn and Linda Bohnsack, county planner II, recently toured southern Leavenworth County. Dunn said he came away from the visit impressed with the number of developments occurring in the county's southern portion.

"It's amazing," Dunn said. "I was really impressed with all the construction going on. We saw a lot of subdivisions that are going up.

"It wasn't daunting," he added. "I would say it's exciting because we're really going to be busy working on the stuff I love to work on."

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