ST. GEORGE — As growth continues at a breakneck pace, the city of St. George has created a new department and appointed a new director to oversee the many aspects of residential and commercial development.
“As the city looks to increase its efficiency and better utilize the resources that we have, we’ve decided to create a new department within the city, the Community Development Department,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said during Thursday’s City Council meeting at St. George City Hall.
The city has chosen John Willis to head the department. Willis has worked for the city for a total of six years and most recently served as planning and zoning manager.
“We went through the process of looking at our internal candidates here at the city,” Lenhard said, “and we determined that John Willis was the best fit for that position.”
As the new department’s director, Willis will oversee a wide range of city functions relating to development, including planning and zoning, building inspection, building permits, business licensing, special events and code enforcement.
“This will be an incredibly busy department,” Lenhard said.
In his new position, Willis joins the city’s executive team managing the broad scope of intricacies involved in community development.
“I’m excited for the position,” Willis said. “I’ve lived in St. George since I was 14 years old, and it was always my dream when I went to college to be able to come back and work for St. George.
“I love this community, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to further that and work in this capacity.”
Willis, who was joined by his wife and six children at the meeting, was formally recognized and appointed to the position in a unanimous vote by the City Council.
“He is an expert in his field,” Mayor Jon Pike said. “We are thrilled to have him in this new position.”
Everyone on the council gave Willis a ringing endorsement and vote of confidence as the right person to head the department.
“He’s always very helpful with the public and you can really tell he likes what he does, and he knows his stuff,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.
The city says the position is crucial as the number of building projects in the city only goes up.
“We’re the fastest-growing city in the nation,” Willis said, “so having that purview of the building department and planning is a big deal and making sure that we’re running as efficiently as we can.”
Indeed, that fact was on full display at Thursday’s City Council meeting, which included an agenda brimming with large planned development projects seeking approval to go forward with construction.
Following are some of the highlights of residential, commercial and infrastructure projects featured in the meeting in various stages of development:
- An ordinance was approved to rezone about 30 acres of agricultural land to planned development residential on the south side of Mall Drive on either side of 2780 East, making way for a 522-unit housing development that includes apartments, town houses and twin homes.
- Approximately six acres of land were rezoned for a 48-unit town home community off Dixie Drive at 415 South.
- The final plat was approved for the Shoppes at Red Cliffs, a 6-lot commercial subdivision on Red Cliffs Drive.
- A permit was approved for the construction of a 48-foot-tall cellphone tower with service from AT&T near Airport Road above St. George Regional Airport.
- Several plats were approved for planned residential developments in and around the Little Valley area.
- Plans were approved for the first phase of the Tech Ridge commercial subdivision on the old airport hill.
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