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County lawyer to be new planning director

LAWRENCEVILLE - A county lawyer who specializes in land use and zoning law will be Gwinnett's new director of Planning and Development.

Glenn Stephens, a senior assistant attorney with the county, was named the department's new director on Tuesday. He will begin heading the department on Nov. 1.

Stephens, who will make $132,000 a year, said he is very excited to get started.

"I'm looking forward to switching over and getting a running start," he said.

Stephens is replacing Michael Williams, who is retiring in January. Williams will continue to wrap up some projects he has been working on between now and his retirement. He said he has known Stephens for a number of years and thinks he will do well in the position.

A lot of land-use issues are legal questions, Stephens said, so having a lawyer in the department's top position seemed like a natural fit. Commissioner Mike Beaudreau agreed, saying Stephens seemed like the best choice to help the commission make planning decisions because of his legal background.

County Administrator Jock Connell said Stephens will deal with the county's challenges in a proactive manner. Connell said although he usually likes to promote from within, he didn't think the county had a viable candidate until Stephens approached him.

"Just when you think you're out of options, if you think broader, sometimes you find an answer," he said.

Stephens has been with the county for nine years where he did mostly zoning and land use litigation. He said he dealt with land-use issues on a daily basis.

Stephens graduated from Mercer University with a degree in political science and got his law degree from Mercer University in 1987. He has lived in Snellville with his wife Carole since 1991. They have two sons.

Stephens said he got most of his planning and development experience on the job.

"You don't well have to be a quote planner to be a departmental head," he said. "I have day-to-day down-in-the-trenches experience."

Planning Commissioner Chuck Warbington said he thinks Stephens will bring a new perspective to the planning process.

"He's a sharp fellow," Warbington said. "He'll bring a big enthusiasm to the

department."

- Staff Writer Camie Young contributed to this story.