After more than seven months of searching, the city of Auburn has found its next planning director in Steve Foote, who brings more than 30 years of experience to the position.
"We're excited about the insight, leadership and knowledge that Steve brings to our Planning Services Department," said City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch in a news release. "With decades of experience, we look forward to the impact he will make as we continue to plan for Auburn's future."
A native of northern Virginia, Foote hit the ground running last week after arriving from Nicholasville, Kentucky, a suburb of Lexington that has grown rapidly over the past two decades, adding more than 10,000 new residents, a trait the city shares with Auburn and other stops in Foote's career.
"Every city is unique. There have been different cities and they're different sizes and they have different aspirations of what they want to be like and how they want to develop," said Foote. "Right now, I'm just trying to get the lay of the land, feel for the city, what has been the planning practices in the past. So right now, I'm just in that absorbing stage of trying to figure out what's happened, what opportunities do we have, what direction would be good to go."
Foote has plenty of experience in Alabama, having served for 13 years as community development director in Gulf Shores, which also experienced fast growth during that time.
"I think it's one of those things that makes it a fun place to be," said Foote of serving in a fast-growing and thriving community. "Every city I've ever worked for has been, almost without exception, a fast-growing community.
"Even Nicholasville was growing like gangbusters as a suburb of Lexington. Gulf Shores hit a big growth spurt while I was there for a small town. We had a lot of new development; we had a lot of new redevelopment on the beach; we had a lot of residential development going on."
Foote added that he's ready to engage with the 2040 Plan effort and begin looking at regulations on the books.
"I think there are some other thing in the codes that we might want to take a look at and visit and say, you know, 'how can we improve some of our regulatory statements in there and make them better,' " he said. "I do like to streamline things when we can, make it easier, make the processes easier to go through, so we'll take on overall look at a lot of those things."
Foote, who earned his undergraduate degree from James Madison and master's from Arizona State, will also have to tackle the upcoming five-year update to the city's CompPlan.
"I look forward to working with the exceptional staff in the Planning Department and collaborating with city officials to help them address existing and future challenges, and make Auburn a better place," Foote said.