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New County Planning Chief Once Led City's Development Services

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 14, 2017
Robert "Wayne" Clark is New Hanover County's new planning and land use director. (Photo courtesy of New Hanover County)

Robert “Wayne” Clark has been selected as New Hanover County's new planning and land use director, according to an announcement Monday.

Clark, who previously worked in a planning leadership role for the city of Wilmington, will begin in his new county position Sept. 26, a county news release said.

He replaces Chris O'Keefe, who after 11 years as director and 27 years as a county employee retired at the end of July from New Hanover County.

Clark has nearly 30 years of planning and community development experience and is a certified planner through the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners.

“Wayne is an excellent choice for this role, bringing with him extensive planning experience and knowledge of our community,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet in the release. “We are fortunate to have him return to New Hanover County as we undertake important projects such as updating the county’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), and implementing our first comprehensive plan.”

Since 2007, Clark has mainly served as the community development director for the city of Port Orange, Florida. He was the city of Asheville's development services director for less than two months at the end of 2015, before Port Orange officials worked to bring him back to their staff, according to an Asheville Citizen-Times article in January 2016.

Prior to Florida, he was the development services director and planning manager for the city of Wilmington for eight years.

"I know a lot of folks feel like this is an extremely strong hire and are looking forward to his return to Wilmington," said Tyler Newman, president and CEO of business advocacy group Business Alliance for a Sound Economy, in an email Monday. "Most impressive is his historical perspective -- not just having worked in Wilmington previously, but having overseen the design, approval and construction of mixed use projects in our community. That's a huge advantage, since the recently adopted New Hanover Comprehensive Plan places such a focus on mixed use development. We look forward to working with him as the County continues the process of drafting their new UDO. "

Aside from Wilmington and Port Orange, Clark also served in planning roles with the city of Coral Springs, Florida, and the town of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and communications and a master’s degree in city and regional planning, both from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

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