New Duluth planning director says important to listen

DULUTH -- Duluth has a strong tradition of planning that Glenn Coyne intends to continue as the city's new director of planning and development.

This tradition is evident in the city's comprehensive plan, a redevelopment plan for the Buford Highway Corridor, the parks master plan as well as strategic planning that has involved the community, city staff and elected officials, according to Coyne.

A certified planner with more than 20 years of professional experience, Coyne started his new job in Duluth on July 26.

"I hope to be able to serve as a facilitator between the staff, the elected officials and the public to advance the planning and development process," Coyne said.

"The planning and development staff is well-qualified and is customer service-focused. My role will be to provide support to the staff and then work beyond planning and development to coordinate with all departments, mayor and city council, and other agencies to really try and focus on the big picture."

Coyne added that he wants to become active in the community and participate in planning activities beyond the borders of Duluth.

"It is important to continue to strengthen Duluth's standing in relation to other nearby cities, the county, the region and the state," Coyne said.

Intergovernmental cooperation is key to the success of projects such as Buford Highway Corridor improvements and economic development strategies, he said.

He is slated to be formally introduced at the Duluth City Council's next regular meeting on Aug. 9.

Coyne said he hopes "to bring professionalism and a strong sense of ethics" to his job as planning director for Duluth and "to be as open, fair and respectful as possible."

"Frequently in planning and development, we are dealing with property, and we are applying regulations on how an owner is able to use their property. This can be very emotional and is not something most folks have to deal with on a regular basis," he said.

It is important "to really listen to people," he said, to clearly define their issue and find a solution and "to strive for consistency" whether meeting with a resident, a developer, or an elected official.

In the past, Coyne provided planning leadership for the communities of Augusta, Savannah and Columbia County in Georgia and served as a consultant to other local governments in the southeast United States.

He most recently was employed as a senior associate with AECOM, formerly EDAW, in Atlanta. Previously he owned his own firm Coyne Planning Associates based in Marietta and worked as a senior planner with HDR Inc. in Atlanta.

Also, Coyne served as executive director of the American Institute of Certified Planners in Washington, D.C., and president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Planning Association in Atlanta.

He earned a master's degree in city planning from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Cleveland State University in Ohio.

Coyne replaces Cliff Cross, who resigned March 20 to return to Kankakee, Ill., to serve as executive director of Kankakee's Community Development Agency and as that city's director of planning.