New Chelan Planning Director

New Chelan County Planning
Director is maintaining his Kuhl

There are few departments within county government as vital as Planning due to a simple fact: It determines forward progress, stagnation, a return to the past or a slide into oblivion.
Even the county website agrees with that premise stating, "The Department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of ... International building, residential, mechanical, fire, and the uniform plumbing codes; FEMA flood protection requirements (and) Washington State Energy Code."
That is the basic platform, but it goes on, "The Department is the lead agency responsible for long range comprehensive planning. ... The Comprehensive Plan and development regulations are revised and updated on an annual basis."
For those not in the know, the "Comprehensive Plan" is the blueprint to our future as Chelan County residents, businesses, schools and basically all the nuts and bolts of our society.
Nothing much happens - building-wise - anywhere in the city of Wenatchee or the Metropolitan Growth Area (MGA) without the say-so of the Planning Director. The new director, recently hired by the Chelan County Commission, is Dave Kuhl.
Kuhl spoke exclusively with NCW Media's Managing Editor Gary Bégin recently about his duties and work ethic steering the wheels of progress.
Wenatchee Business Journal: What was your biggest challenge when you first started here?
Dave Kuhl: Getting boots on the ground, recruiting experienced planners in a booming economy.
WBJ: What is your experience that prepared you for this position?
Kuhl: I was recently honored by the Washington’s Planning Directors Association at the State Planning Director’s Conference, for 30+ years working in planning (17 of those years have been as a Planning Director). The Director experience ranges from the fastest growing county in the U.S. (Pinal County, Arizona, 5,400 square miles) during a massive building boom, and small cities as well on the other side of the spectrum. I have two degrees, B.A. University of Montana, and master’s degree in Organizational Management.
WBJ: What about working with novice builders?
Kuhl: All builders use the same uniform building code to build. For a novice or an experienced builder, the process is the same. Every property built may have unique characteristics that could affect how it is developed and engineered. For a novice builder I will take more time to help them through the process because there may be steps that they are not familiar with. I like the opportunity to help them understand the process.
WBJ: How is it when working with trade groups like BNCW?
Kuhl: I have a respect for all sides of building and development. This is an opportunity to work with contractors to talk about building codes and see how they play a role in their profession and their daily lives.
Land use regulation is a balance of citizens property rights and the public safety and welfare. The county vision of what that looks like is dictated and put into code by public input. As an employee of Chelan County, under the direction of the County Commissioners, we are here to carry out that vision. Land use regulations are established to protect individuals, their property rights and their largest life-long investment they will ever make.
WBJ: Anything else to add?
Kuhl: Chelan County is a beautiful place to live with so much to offer.

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