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2018-01-24 / Front Page

Commissioner resigns as agenda heats up

BY JIM McCONNELL STAFF WRITER


Edgar Wallin Edgar Wallin As the Chesterfield County Planning Commission begins grappling with an aggressive 2018 agenda, the board’s longest-serving member is stepping down.

Edgar Wallin, the Matoaca District’s planning commissioner for the past six years, announced his resignation in a prepared statement at the end of the commission’s meeting last Tuesday.

“This was not a decision easily arrived at, as I have thoroughly enjoyed working for the betterment of the Matoaca District and Chesterfield County. However, I feel it is best to transition to a newly energetic set of eyes and ears,” Wallin said. “This position requires boundless amounts of drive, focus and personal investment. I feel the next commissioner will be able to provide those at a level I find more difficult every day to sustain.”

Wallin, 76, declined to elaborate during a brief telephone conversation last Wednesday morning, saying, “It’s time to focus on the future.”

In the short term, his departure leaves the five-member Planning Commission short-handed as it confronts heavy zoning caseloads and several high-profile projects – including the comprehensive plan update, a special area plan for the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor and the controversial proposal to rezone nearly 1,700 acres of residential property off state Route 10 for use as an industrial megasite.

“There’s too much going on to leave that seat vacant for any period of time,” said Reuben Waller, who served on the commission from 2008 to 2016.

Matoaca District Supervisor Steve Elswick is tasked with finding Wallin’s successor.

Elswick couldn’t be reached for comment last week. Planning Commission Chairman Gib Sloan noted that he had spoken with Elswick and expressed confidence he’ll “work as quickly as he can to fill the position, but also to make sure it’s the right person for Matoaca.”

“We don’t want things to start stacking up,” Sloan said. “The four of us are more than willing to help out with zoning cases and bringing the new person up to speed, just like Edgar did for us.”

Sloan, who was elected last week to a second consecutive one-year term as chairman, acknowledged he was caught off guard when Wallin submitted his letter of resignation just prior to the start of last Tuesday’s evening session.

But in retrospect, he wasn’t shocked that Wallin decided to step aside and “hand the reins to somebody else.”

“Edgar has made comments on several occasions that at this point in his life, being the planning commissioner for Matoaca was becoming more than a full-time job,” Sloan said. “Because of the size of the district and the number of zoning cases, his workload has been disproportionately higher than the rest of ours. “For very selfish reasons, I’m sorry to see him go,” he added. “He has been an exceptional public servant and a wealth of knowledge for four new planning commissioners. Working with him has been a joy.”

Elswick appointed Wallin to the Planning Commission shortly after taking office in January 2012.

Wallin retired in 2005 after eight years with Chesterfield County Public Schools, where he worked as director of human resources and facilities and assistant superintendent for instruction.

He had spent the previous 34 years in Henrico County’s school system, beginning as a teacher before working his way up to principal and later director of specialty centers.

Wallin also served as a member of the charter commission for Chesterfield County and worked on evaluations of several county governments and school systems.

“He’s got everything I want in a commissioner – patience, listening skills, he knows how to negotiate and work with people, he’s not confrontational,” Elswick told the Observer in December 2011. “He brings so much to the table.”

There was some question whether Wallin would remain on the Planning Commission after Elswick won a second four-year term in 2015.

Noting the commission’s other four seats were changing hands at the same time, Wallin agreed to stay on and help his new compatriots navigate the learning curve in a sprawling, increasingly diverse county.

“Edgar had relationships with many different parts of the community and an instinctual understanding of how people would feel about certain zoning cases,” Sloan said. “He also had more historical perspective about how properties got to where they are today. That’s very helpful when you have four new people coming in.”

In his statement, Wallin acknowledged he is looking forward to “having some more time for myself.”

“I am confident the citizens of the Matoaca District and Chesterfield County will continue to be in good hands,” he said. ¦

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