Michael Smith, Neighborhood Planner

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

I was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

I moved to Charlottesville in August 2005 to start school at UVA.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I live in Fifeville.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?

No spouse. No kids.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I graduated from UVA in 2009.

What were you doing before you came to work for the City?

I was living in DC and working for a small, private company that specialized in habitat restoration and invasive plant removal.

Your job title is Neighborhood Planner – what, in your own words, would you say you do?

My job would be much better explained visually, as planners do many different things. However, a broad explanation is that Neighborhood Planners review all development within the City to ensure consistency with the goals and policies established within the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?

The best part of my job is the numerous interactions I have with various members of the community. Those experiences really provide a unique perspective on the City.

The most difficult part is trying to explain to citizens the reality of the zoning ordinance and other City regulations.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?

I think my job is integral in sustaining and creating a healthy built environment. The experience of living and working within a dense, forested, multi-modal community reflects much of the work neighborhood planners do.

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?

The current Comprehensive Plan update has been interesting to date and I am looking forward to the community outreach events we have scheduled.

What is a little-known fact about you?

I’m really interested in woodworking and actually pursued that interest when I moved back to Charlottesville. I was taking a PVCC course and advancing my skills, but couldn’t sustain the activity due to schedule conflicts. I hope to pick it back up in the future.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?

I’m really into music, so I try to be supportive to local and visiting acts who play in town. I exercise, try and eat good food, watch/attend sporting events, visit different cities, read the news, get to the mountains when I can, and hang out with friends.