Williams out as regional planning director

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will soon be looking for a new executive director.

“I move that we not renew the executive director’s employment,” Albemarle Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said in a motion that was passed unanimously by the commission’s Board of Directors on Thursday evening.

Stephen W. Williams has been in charge of the agency since April 2009, when he took over from Harrison Rue.

In November, an ad hoc committee of the commission issued a heavily redacted report regarding the agency’s handling of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate the updating of the Comprehensive Plans in Albemarle County and Charlottesville.

The report found that commission management miscalculated the amount of money available to pay temporary planners hired for the project. Those employees were let go several months before the One Community, Many Plans initiative was completed.

However, the report did not find malfeasance or wrongdoing. Three of its conclusions were redacted, citing state confidentiality laws for public employees.

Before coming to Charlottesville, Williams worked as executive director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission in southern New Hampshire.

Williams’ contract expires Aug. 1, according to Joe Chesser, outgoing chairman of the commission.

Chesser had no comment or explanation, and only said that the commission wanted to go in a “different direction.”

The commission is expected to appoint a search committee at its next meeting July 11. No interim director has been named.

Williams also had come under fire from the Albemarle Board of Supervisors for applying for a federal grant to study possible alignments for the Eastern Connector. Supervisors put that roadway concept on hold in 2009 due to community opposition and a lack of traffic data to back up its purpose and need.

In other news, the commission appointed Allen Hale of Nelson County to serve as its new chairman. City Councilor Kathy Galvin will serve as the new vice chair.

NOTE: This is an updated version of a breaking story originally published June 13, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.