Scott Shuford, Asheville’s sometimes embattled planning director, submitted a letter of resignation to City Manager Gary Jackson last week, effective “on or before June 30.”
In a press release, Shuford said: “After a rewarding period of time with the city of Asheville, I’ve reached a point in my career where I’m seeking new opportunities and challenges. At the same time, Asheville has too many positive things going for it to allow questions about my future career path to be a distraction, and so I wanted to give the organization as much notice as possible.”
Four Council members told Xpress that five of the seven Council members had told Jackson they felt a lack of confidence in Shuford’s management and enforcement decisions.
Council member Jan Davis said he disagrees with those five, but confirmed that for the majority, “There are several issues on which they fall on different places than Scott.” Davis added: “I’m supportive of a lot of Scott’s decisions. There were a small number of issues that have been controversial, and his effectiveness has been compromised by those issues. Otherwise, he has done an outstanding job.”
Other Council members gave Shuford credit for some of his strengths and acknowledged that his job is a tough one, but expressed disappointment in his relationships with both members of the community at large and the development community.
Shuford has been in the position for almost eight years, during a time of explosive growth for the city and region. He stepped into the position shortly after the Unified Development Ordinance was approved, and he oversaw numerous refinements and amendments to that massive planning document.
Along the way, Shuford has faced critics, including developers and community activists, for some of his interpretations of the law. Last summer, in a study commissioned by the city, professor David Owens of the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill took exception to decisions concerning Staples and Greenlife Grocery. Both projects were cited by more than one Council member as reasons for their loss of confidence.