More shake-ups in planning |

More shake-ups in planning

Assistant director Brian Berndt leaves city department today

Today is Brian Berndt's last day as the assistant director of planning services for the city of Steamboat Springs.
Matt Stensland

— As Steamboat Springs continues to see unprecedented levels of development and growth, the city’s Planning Department continues to see turnover in its staff.

Brian Berndt, assistant director of planning services, leaves today after just more than a year on the job. Berndt worked on projects including redevelopment at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, the Steamboat Barn Village residential project near Yampa Valley Medical Center and revisions to the city’s “big box” commercial ordinance.

In December, senior planner Suzanne Bott – who also led base area redevelopment planning – left Steamboat to help with reconstruction in the Middle East.

While the Planning Department has made several internal promotions, the departures have led to a new entry-level hire and current advertising for Berndt’s open position.

“It makes a hard job harder,” Planning Director Tom Leeson said about the shake-ups. “It takes several months for somebody new to really get rolling.”

In recent months, Planning Department staff has reviewed numerous large-scale development projects slated for downtown and the base area.

“We don’t see an end in sight to the level of project review,” Leeson said in December.

For Berndt, 46, all the activity makes Steamboat a hard place to leave.

“It’s going to be tough for me not to be a part of that,” he said Thursday. “Just when I figured things out, I leave. But my family comes first.”

Berndt said he has lived apart from his wife for nearly all of his time in Steamboat because of the chronic migraine headaches his wife gets from Northwest Colorado’s altitude. The couple is moving to Avondale, Ariz., a city of about 90,000 people southwest of Phoenix.

Berndt has taken a job as Avondale’s director of development services, which will give him a leadership role in building, engineering and planning for a city he said handles as many as 1,200 building permits a year.

Steamboat handles about 150 such permits a year, Berndt said.

Leeson said the turnover will adjust the Planning Department’s workload.

“It’s going to require patience from everybody we deal with,” Leeson said. “Some of our review times could be slower, and some of our projects could be delayed. But I don’t think this sets us back dramatically.”

Leeson said he likely will begin reviewing applications for

Berndt’s position next week.

Entry-level planner Gavin McMillan begins work Feb. 20. McMillan has a degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado in Denver and previously has worked as a planner for the town of Silverton.

– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail

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