Asheville names new director to Development Services Department

BREAKNECK PACE: Jason Nortz, the city's interim Development Services Department Director, says his office is trying to keep up with the city's "breakneck pace" of development. " We clearly recognize the need to improve our process, and we're working on that." Photo by Hayley Benton

Just two months after taking the reins, Development Services Director Wayne Clark will step down Jan. 22 to return to Port Orange, Fla., after that city successfully wooed him back. He had served as Port Orange’s community development director.

Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson announced today that Jason Nortz will take over Clark’s position. Prior to Clark’s arrival, Nortz served as interim director of the department and headed up initial changes to streamline the department, which had been criticized by developers for being slow and hard to navigate. “With all the new development that’s occurring, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it at a breakneck pace,” Jason Nortz told Mountain Xpress in October prior to Clark’s arrival.

City Manager Gary Jackson said, “Fortunately, we had a strong in-house candidate in Jason Nortz who will be able to step in as director right away to maximize continuity in the Development Services Department. We feel confident that Jason, who is already overseeing improvements in the DSD facility, is positioned to lead staff in a positive direction to ensure good employee morale and outstanding customer service.”

Nortz was originally hired as the assistant director for the city of Asheville’s Development Services Department in March 2015. Prior to that, he had been the Planning Manager for Palo Alto, California’s Development Services Department. From 2005-2012, he served as Palo Alto’s senior planner for the Planning and Community Environment Department.

Nortz received a bachelor’s of science degree in health and human services from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and was most recently pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning from San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif.

Nortz is currently overseeing facility improvements for the Development Services Department staff in the Public Works Building that include new office space for building inspectors and remodeled office space for stormwater and planning staff.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to transition into the role of director for the department,” Nortz said in a press release from the city of Asheville. “In the short time I’ve been here I’ve seen how dedicated the staff is with assisting our customers and managing the wide array of complex projects. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the some of the positive changes we’ve already made as well as tackling the larger challenges that still exist.”


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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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One thought on “Asheville names new director to Development Services Department

  1. James L. (Larry) Smith

    Hold your horses, folks. Jason Nortz hasn’t been here a year and now he’s leaving. Do you suppose he figured out the running of the city is an ongoing scandal of dishonesty and low morale? I just got an email from him saying he is leaving employment with the city as of Dec. 19. Well, that was quick, wasn’t it?

    Here’s the email:

    Jason Nortz

    9:22 AM (3 hours ago)

    to me

    As of December 19 I know longer work for the City of Asheville. If you need immediate assistance please contact DSD Interim Director, Diane Meek at (828) 259-5670.

    For specific inquiries please refer to the contact below:

    planning/zoning: Ricky Hurley – 828-259-5674
    building safety: Mark Matheny- 828-259-5667
    stormwater: Sonya Dawson- 828-259-5569
    permit center: Russell Roe – 828-259-5671

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