Bellingham planning director appointed

On April 11, Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike announced his appointment of Jeff Thomas as Bellingham’s Planning and Community Development director. Thomas has served as the city’s interim director since former director Tim Stewart resigned in spring 2010.

“Jeff has served us well in multiple roles,” Pike said in a press release. “He has proven to be an effective leader who works well with the public, local businesses, other city departments and the City Council. He has demonstrated he can effectively manage the complexities of community planning and permitting and be an agent for change and progress. I am grateful for the many ways he has added value to our team, and for his willingness to serve as director.”

Thomas, who was hired in November 2007 as assistant director of the Planning and Community Development Department, is credited with revamping the city’s permit center. Customer satisfaction with the permit center, as tracked by independent surveys, has increased markedly under Thomas’ leadership, Pike said in the release.

Thomas has also served as the city’s interim building official.

“Jeff is an excellent choice and I am pleased to welcome him to this position,” City Council president Stan Snapp said in a press release. “He has been successful in his various city endeavors, and has had to step into some historically contentious issues. He has impressed me in his role as interim director and I look forward to our continued work with him and his department.”

The Planning and Community Development director is appointed by and reports to the mayor, while working closely with the Bellingham City Council. The department also works directly with the city’s 25 neighborhoods, the citizen planning commission, and is leading the process this year to complete an update of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Thomas has 13 years of experience in planning, permitting and community development in Washington, including holding professional planning positions in Yakima County, the city of Shoreline and city of Mercer Island. He completed graduate work in public administration at Seattle University in 2009, and holds a certificate in land use law from the University of Washington, in addition to his undergraduate degrees in geography and planning.

Thomas’ permanent appointment takes effect immediately. He will receive an annual salary of $115,476.

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