Longtime resident appointed planner in Talent

TALENT — A native son has been appointed full-time city planner in the wake of a mini building boom in town.

Zac Moody, 37, a senior planner with Jackson County, will begin work on Sept. 9. Moody has lived in Talent his entire life except for time spent at the University of Oregon and while associate planner for Venita from 2008-2012.

"My goal was to be the planner in Talent," said Moody. "I moved away to take the job in Veneta so I could get some planning experience so I could have the job. Small-town planning has been my life."

Moody takes over from contract planner Mark Knox at a time of growing workload in the Community Development Department. City officials increased an assistant's position to full time this fiscal year.

Through July, the city had 34 applications for single-family-residence building permits, compared with 27 for all of 2012 and just 12 in 2011. Inquiries on potential commercial projects also have increased, said Knox.

Contracted in 2008 when full-time planner John Adam took a position with Medford, Knox said he realized a year ago the city needed to move to a full-time planner position. He's glad the City Council found the money.

"They need a full-time planner. My commercial clients need a full-time planner, too. I also have a family," said Knox. "It was a really difficult decision, mainly because I enjoy the people I work with."

Talent has received inquiries recently about developing a hotel, a gas station, medical facilities and a hardware store, said Knox, who could not disclose the parties involved.

"In general, we have had conversations on a variety of uses and new developments," said Knox.

Knox worked on design standards and transportation plans. He also oversaw permits issued and land-use actions taken for several larger projects in the last two years.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival has a 64,500-square-foot set building and costume shop under construction on Talent Avenue. Clothing manufacture Sunday Afternoons has permits to construct larger facilities, and the Clearview development has signs promoting upcoming construction of a second commercial building along Highway 99.

A land-use action created uniform zoning at the former Walmart location on Valley View Road to allow electric vehicle builder Brammo Inc. to turn the 100,000-square-foot building into its headquarters, a production facility and research and development center.

Four Talent residents were among applicants for the position, said City Manager Tom Corrigan. A selection committee went through two rounds of interviews to narrow the applicant field, he said.

Moody will resign his position on Talent's Planning Commission. He is on the boards of the Talent Food Project and the Phoenix-Talent Little League, where he oversees field maintenance at Chuck Roberts Park.

Moody's twin boys will be in second grade this fall at Talent Elementary School, where he went to school. He earned a bachelor's degree in geography from Southern Oregon University, was an intern with Medford's planning department and was a private planner before taking the Venita position.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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