VANDALIA — The spring and summer of 2018 has been a year of transition in the City of Vandalia City Manager’s Office and Planning Department.
Amber Holloway, formerly the City Planner, was elevated to Assistant City Manager after the departure of Greg Shackelford who previously held the position. Additionally, David Marlow, a recent graduate of Ohio State University, was named the new City Planner.
As the Assistant City Manager, Holloway’s focus is largely on economic development versus Planning and Zoning. She says that transition has been an easy one.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” she said. “Greg was kind enough to take me under his wing while he was here and let me be part of meetings with businesses and consultants who are looking to bring in businesses. Through that I was able to learn how we are attracting business as well as tools we are using to retain them.”
Holloway says her background in Planning and Zoning is an asset when a business is developing plans to locate in the city or update an existing facility.
“There are a lot of differences (between Planning and economic development),” she said. “Zoning is the rules and regulations on how a building can look, what can be placed on a lot, but now my role is really more of trying to get a business that fits in well with the community, not just any business. Zoning is still a huge part of that, though, and having that knowledge helps me move forward in the right direction with each company that I meet.
Marlow was able to begin working in the city on a part-time basis prior to graduation, but admits to playing catch-up. The task is more daunting because the city has been undergoing an update to its Planning and Zoning Code – a process that will likely wrap up before the end of the year.
That has left Marlow not only enforcing the current Code while also anticipating upcoming changes.
“It has been exciting after mostly writing papers for four years in college,” said Marlow. “To actually put that knowledge to work in real life is challenging. It’s been a little harder because I haven’t been here to know what the issues are with the current code. Every zoning code has to relate to the community itself and its been a little hard knowing what the community wants and didn’t want. Amber has been a great resource.”
Marlow says zoning codes are meant to be a general standard, but not one size fits all.
“That’s why we consider variances because there are exceptions,” said Marlow. “We understand that – that’s why people can go through the variance process.”
Holloway says the same applies to businesses looking to locate in Vandalia.
“Many corporations have set standards on how they will build something or they only have so much space to work with,” she said. “We always encourage them to pay attention to the zoning code from the get-go so they are planning their site development around what we permit. The zoning code is a baseline standard so we hope folks will want to go above and beyond it for screening, landscape, and other standards.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at ((37) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.