The Highlands Planning Board met at their monthly meeting July 30 and after business was concluded Planning and Development Director Andrew Bowen announced his resignation.
Bowen said he expected to remain as the town’s planning director for longer, but wanted to be closer to family in Waynesville, N.C.
“Plus raising young children here is more difficult than we thought compared to a larger urban area,” said Bowen.
He will be starting a new position at JM Teague Engineering and Planning in Waynesville on Aug. 20.
“I have enjoyed working with Andrew for the last year and I hate to see him leave,” said Town Manager Josh Ward. “He has brought a high-level enthusiasm to the position. Andrew’s experience in planning and zoning in Western North Carolina has been extremely valuable. He has done an outstanding job and I wish him well on his future endeavors.”
Bowen began working for the town in June, 2017 and his last day is Aug. 17, 2018.
Planning Board member Dennis DeWolf thanked Bowen for his efforts to help shape Highlands’ future.
“You brought a lot of good things to the table,” DeWolf told Bowen at the planning board meeting.
IT Director Matt Shuler said it was good to work with Bowen.
“He’s a good guy,” said Shuler. “He’s smart and full of energy. And he really knew his planning stuff.”
Bowen said that he enjoyed his time in Highlands.
“It was great,” he said. “I truly have no complaints.”
Town Manager Josh Ward has a background in planning and zoning in Highlands and will act as the planning director until the position is filled. It took two years to fill the position when the town hired Bowen.
Ward said the town’s comprehensive plan will be put on hold until a new director can be hired. The comprehensive plan had not been revised for five years at the time Bowen was hired.
He added that the next step is to post the open position online and evaluate the applications received.
“We’d prefer to see somebody with North Carolina experience,” said Ward.