2017-09-06 / Real Estate

Texas planner to lead county department


Andrew G. Gillies 
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHESTERFIELD COUNTY Andrew G. Gillies PHOTO COURTESY OF CHESTERFIELD COUNTY As county leaders continue to explore options for incentivizing the redevelopment of Chesterfield’s older neighborhoods, they’ve hired a new planning director who has considerable experience in that area.

Andrew G. Gillies, a veteran of more than 30 years in planning and community development, was selected last week to succeed Kirk Turner as head of the Planning Department.

“We listened to the community about what they thought was needed in a new planning director,” said Deputy County Administrator Bill Dupler. “Andy brings a wealth of experience and he will be a wonderful addition to our talented community development team.”

Gillies is presently employed as the community services director for Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

He’s expected to start in Chesterfield next month, at which point Turner will transition full-time into his new role as director of the county’s Community Enhancement Department.

“The business community has appreciated the partnership with Chesterfield County and we look forward to continuing that partnership with Mr. Gillies,” said Danna Markland, chief executive officer of the Home Building Association of Richmond. Gillies was one of 19 applicants. After the county solicited citizen input in focus groups and community meetings, a selection panel conducted initial interviews and identified two finalists.

Both finalists were interviewed by County Administrator Joe Casey, Dupler and Director of Economic Development Garrett Hart. Casey ultimately made the decision to hire Gillies.

“We look forward to meeting with our new planning director,” said Phil Lohr, a leader of the local group Chesterfield Citizens for Responsible Government, whose members have alleged on multiple occasions that the Planning Department was too deferential to real estate developers under Turner’s leadership.

“His varied background and experience hopefully will enable him to understand citizens’ desire to improve the quality of life in our communities, while enhancing needed commercial growth using the comprehensive plan as a guide,” Lohr added.

While Gillies has worked primarily for Texas localities, he spent seven years as executive director of a large city-county planning commission in Kentucky. He also has experience with private sector engineering and planning firms, including Kimley Horn & Associates and Tierra Planning.

During his tenure with the city of Farmers Branch, Gillies managed the completion of two comprehensive plans that focused on stimulating new development and encouraging adaptive reuse within aging areas.

The city has approved about $1.5 billion in new residential and commercial development projects over the past two years.

“This is the precise stage that Chesterfield County is in right now,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dorothy Jaeckle. “After speaking with Mr. Gillies, I can understand why the panel thought he was a great fit. He absolutely understood the challenges and complexities of redevelopment of older areas such as the Jefferson Davis corridor.”

The county launched a national search for a new planning director in May, following an announcement that Turner had been selected to head up the newly created Community Enhancement Department.

The new department has been staffed by transferring 17 employees and one vacant position from five existing county departments: Planning, Budget and Management, Building Inspection, License Inspection and Revitalization. It has a $1.3 million annual budget and oversees distribution of another $1 million annually in grant funds.

License Inspector Rich Billingsley and Revitalization Manager Carl Schlaudt also have assumed leadership roles in Community Enhancement. They report to Turner, who has worked for the county for 38 years and served as planning director since 2004.

“There are parts of the county that haven’t improved during my tenure and continue to struggle. This position allows me to focus on those,” Turner said earlier this year. “The county has invested a large amount of resources in these areas over the years, but it hasn’t been coordinated. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Nobody had the time to put everything together. The prospect of being able to make some real improvements is exciting.” ¦

Return to top