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Thread: Zoning Administrator - what is the typical level in the planning career path?

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    Cyburbian tbagato's avatar
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    Zoning Administrator - what is the typical level in the planning career path?

    Sorry for the long title, but I am interested in hiring a Zoning Administrator for my department. I know the typical career path of the planner series, however, I haven't found any clear level for a Zoning Administrator. I am looking for this to establish a min number of years of service and salary. I believe it could be in line with a Planner III/Senior Planner level. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I don't think it's really in the planner career path, except maybe as a sidebar. When we have hired for one, the path has been more from the building trades/code enforcement side.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'm sorry to say it depends. I'm technically a zoning administrator. I make administrative interpretations of the code, enforce the code, etc. I'm also the planning manager/director/planner/lawn mower/etc., but I work in a mostly rural county (county seat of 50k people and another 5k living around it - about 800 square miles). If you go to a big city like Phoenix, they contract with a local attorney to do that job, but he also gets to do some arbitration/zoning appeals type work. My first question would be, why can't you just designate your planning manager as the administrator and save some money or hire another planner and make that part of his job? You don't have to answer that, just throwing out things to think about.

    As far as career path, I would say put it equal to something like a planner III or a manager. You just need to find someone that is more legal/code minded than design or review minded.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  4. #4
    Depends on where you are at. In several places I worked, I was listed as the zoning administrator. However, I was the planning director for two small counties. FWIW, I've been a planning director for nearly 20 years, but held the title of executive director only once that was because I was the building commissioner as well.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian tbagato's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I'm sorry to say it depends. I'm technically a zoning administrator. I make administrative interpretations of the code, enforce the code, etc. I'm also the planning manager/director/planner/lawn mower/etc., but I work in a mostly rural county (county seat of 50k people and another 5k living around it - about 800 square miles). If you go to a big city like Phoenix, they contract with a local attorney to do that job, but he also gets to do some arbitration/zoning appeals type work. My first question would be, why can't you just designate your planning manager as the administrator and save some money or hire another planner and make that part of his job? You don't have to answer that, just throwing out things to think about.

    As far as career path, I would say put it equal to something like a planner III or a manager. You just need to find someone that is more legal/code minded than design or review minded.
    That is a fair question, however, I don't have a planning manager. As the Director, I do have the ultimate authority to make certain zoning determinations. I have a staff of 8, and I am trying to decide to hire a Zoning Administrator or Planning Manager who could perform that role as well.

    Thank you for the response.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Without knowing anything about your place, so my advice is obviously perfect, I'd go for a planning manager and set the zoning administration as one of their jobs. You get more mileage out of them that way. Just be sure to highlight that in the job description, job posting, and interviews to get a candidate who actually knows about it.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    It depends on the job description. I served as a ZA in California for a couple of years. My title was ZA (Senior Planner, deep class--as deep class, I got a little more money than the other Senior Planners). As the ZA, I conducted public hearings for smaller applications like commercial development permits, coastal zone permits, variances, CUPs, etc. As the ZA, I was judge and jury. Fun times!!
    Annoyingly insensitive

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    My best ZA was a surveyor with no planning aspirations. He lasted longer than me (by a few months).

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