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Duluth welcomes aboard new planning director

DULUTH - As Duluth's new planning director, Cliff Cross oversees the city's growth and development and ensures that the rules are followed.

"My major priorities are to provide consistent service to the community while enforcing the city's Comprehensive Plan and its zoning ordinance," Cross said.

Like many cities, Duluth has a Comprehensive Plan adopted by the city and updated periodically. The plan serves as a "road map" for the city's future development, Cross said.

He started work as Duluth director of planning and development Oct. 1 at an annual salary of $72,500. He has a staff of seven and a fiscal year 2007-08 budget of $891,000. Jessica Roth, former planning director for Snellville, began work later in October as deputy director of planning for Duluth.

A resident of Gwinnett County, Cross said he is a proponent of "Smart Growth," which encourages development that enhances Duluth's economy without burdening the city's infrastructure, reducing the quality of life for residents, and adversely affecting the environment.

He previously was a city planner in Auburn, Ala., for a year and director of economic development and code enforcement for the city of Kankakee, Ill., for four years.

"Everything I'm doing here, I've done there," he said, "although there is more grant implementation here."

He also worked as an economic development planner for a five-county regional planning commission based in Salem, Ill.

A native of Mattoon, Ill., he earned a bachelor's degree in geography from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

Cross was inspired to go into urban planning after serving an undergraduate internship with the Coles Country Regional Planning Commission in Charleston, Ill.

He is a member of the American Planning Association.