Pa. planner to head city's revamped agency
By Jon Hawley
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Elizabeth City has hired a planner from southeastern Pennsylvania to direct the city’s revamped Planning Department, now called Community Development Department.
City Council unanimously approved Matthew Schelly's hiring following a closed session Monday night.
Schelly, 56, is a senior community planner for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, which is near Philadelphia. He replaces June Brooks, who retired as planning director last month. He starts Jan. 31.
The city is turning the planning department into the community development department to consolidate more functions under one director. City Manager Rich Olson said Schelly will oversee planning as well as building inspections, grant administration and code enforcement.
“I'm very appreciative and thankful to the council and manager for trusting me” with the job, Schelly said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Schelly, who will be paid $75,000 annually, said he brings “broad planning experience” to the new position, having worked for 17 years with Montgomery County. In that time, Schelly said he worked with 11 different municipalities on ordinances, comprehensive plans and other initiatives to guide growth. Their diverse needs mean he's essentially had “11 different jobs,” he said.
He also graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1995 with dual master’s degrees in planning and landscape architecture, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1984 with a bachelor of architecture degree, he said. He also obtained a certificate from the American Institute of Certified Planners last year, he added.
Olson said Schelly's architectural background was a key reason why he got the Community Development director’s job. That background will help Schelly oversee and streamline building inspections and code enforcement with the city's planning process. That should help businesses understand and work through those related processes, Olson explained.
Schelly similarly said his familiarity with building construction should help him work with developers. He also noted that his master's thesis focused on “place-appropriate” development. Asked what he considered “place-appropriate” development for Elizabeth City, he said he needed to get to know the city more to answer that question.
Schelly was chosen for the Community Development director’s job over two other finalists: Pasquotank County Planning Director Shelley Cox and Matthew Homka, a former community development director for Aztec, New Mexico.
Schelly currently resides with his wife, Sylvia, and their daughter in Trooper, an unincorporated community in Montgomery County.