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Nancy Richie, Kate Whitson, Betty Hernandez, Chris Sparacino and Tammy Scott. / Steve Stefanides/Sun Times

What does Growth Management Department do?

The Growth Management Department (formerly Community Affairs) is charged with providing both current and long-range planning, environmental, and zoning services. Planning staff works with the development community on proposed projects, site-plan review, staff analysis of land-use petitions and variance requests, interpretation and enforcement of the City's Land Development Code, and provides staff services to the Planning Board, Beach Advisory Committee, and City Council. Long-range planning efforts focus on implementing policies contained in the adopted Comprehensive Plan and the review and critique of the Land Development Code for changes consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Call 389-5000.

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Over first half of this year, the city’s former Community Development Department has been substantially reformed under the title of the Growth Management Department.

With this reorganization have come new responsibilities — and new faces.

These changes came about due to the unplanned departure of the former community development director and then shortly after that, his temporary replacement, who also served as the zoning administrator for the city.

Still another employee within the department had been promoted to a position within the finance department in purchasing, therefore leaving a substantial gap in the first-string team to handle planning and zoning issues.

It has taken some time for a fresh team to be formed under new City Manager Roger Hernstadt, but the community has begun to recognize the new names on the roster that already been confronted with three fairly substantial issues facing the community — the Rose Marina rehabilitation, the Marco Marriott PUD amendments and the sticky issue of island parking.

Here are brief bios of the new team.

Betty Hernandez

Betty Hernandez was one of the first new additions to the team and came to the city from Miami/Dade County, where she had worked in planning for many years. Her substantial experience was quickly leveraged when Joe Irvin, the city’s zoning administrator, announced his intentions to move back to Washington state to be closer to his family.

Hernandez stepped into the Planner I position.

Chris Sparacino

Although not new to the team, Chris Sparacino has stepped up his role in the department to become more intricately involved in the planning processes. Most recently he has led the city staff portion of the discussions on island parking issues. Sparacino also is the point man for the city’s flood plan coordination. This function helps to keep residents informed about FEMA regulations and flood issues and will be a major factor in applying for government grants should a storm do substantial damage.

Nancy Richie

Another member of the team is Nancy Richie, a long-time employee who undertands that future growth goes hand and hand with maintaining the pristine nature of Marco. Ritchie has also taken on some responsibilities with the Code Enforcement Bureau, which operates under the Marco Police in an effort to better manager some of their focus.

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Tammy Scott

Tammy Scott, one of the newest members of the team, is a native of New England, but she has worked in a number of different settings and has a strong background in architecture, having a degree in it from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

Scott and her husband quickly found they wouldn’t miss the cold weather and eventually moved to work in warmer climates, including Hawaii and most recently in Cayman Islands for seven years. She managed a small architectural firm there until their work visas ran out and moved to Collier County.

Kate Whitson

The “sweeper” position in soccer is a versatile position in the defensive line and is an extremely important position to the team. Kate Whitson would fit that definition perfectly and works in many aspects of the Growth Management Team.

Coming over from the Utility Department, she is sometimes the first person that the public gets to know in this reorganized team. She works to maintain the island’s character and ensuring residents can get their answers to permitting issues and seawall issues.

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