Planning Director Crowell resigns

The Kaua’i County Planning Commission announced yesterday the resignation of Dee Crowell as the county planning director following nearly ten years on the job.

Crowell, an architect by trade, said he was stepping down to pursue other opportunities in the private sector.

“Ten years as planning director, a long time. Over the course of the last few months, you think about the direction of your future,” Crowell said in a prepared statement. “I am just looking at where my professional career was headed. I have got to look at my career.”

His resignation becomes effective February 2003.

The recruitment process will begin shortly for Crowell’s successor, according to a county statement.

“I am committed to stay on until at least February so that a transition process to the new director can take place,” Crowell said in the release.

In an interview with The Garden Island, Crowell said one of the reasons he is leaving his job is “pay.”

Crowell, who earns a little less than $70,000 a year as planning director, said he wants to be in a better financial position to cover the cost of his daughter’s college education.

Crowell said he will not be leaving his current job to take on any federal, state or county job and that it is likely he will be in a higher-salaried, private-sector job on Kaua’i in the future.

Crowell said he has been happy with his job and could work with new mayor Bryan Baptiste.

“I like it here. I like the people I work with, the commission is good,” Crowell said. “Bryan seems like he is taking the county in a good direction.”

In the news release, Crowell said: “I have had the opportunity to talk with Mayor Baptiste over the past few weeks. He has an ambitious vision for his administration. It would be great to participate in achieving that vision, but ten years is a long time for anyone to stay in a job like this. I think that this is the appropriate time for me to move on.”

Crowell added: “I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many wonderful people, on the commission, the planning department, the administration, the Kaua’i County Council, and in the community. I will take with me a lot of positive memories.”

The planning commission apparently didn’t want Crowell to resign.

In making the announcement of Crowell’s departure, Abby Santos, chair of the commission, said “We reluctantly accept Dee’s resignation. He has been a good advisor to the commission and steady director of the planning department for many years. We wish him luck in his future pursuits.”

Crowell said he was most proud of two achievements during his tenure:

– The Hawai’i chapter of the American Planning Association awarded an “education award” to the Kaua’i County Planning Department and Honolulu consulting firm, Plan Pacific, for putting on a fair on Kaua’i’s future at the old J.C. Penny space at Kukui Grove Center in 1998.

For the event, the county and its consultant brought together private, government and community groups that put on displays reflecting their planning and vision for Kaua’i’s future, Crowell said.

– The county’s general plan update won a second award from the association for outstanding planning.

– Through an emergency permit system, the Kaua’i Planning Department issued permits allowing residents to rebuild their homes more quickly after the devastation of Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992.

Crowell said while there were many high points in his career with the county, there were a few low points that were unpleasant, but which didn’t contribute to his decision to leave.

He said public criticism is something that goes along with being a public servant.

Yet, he said he found it bothersome the prolonged public attacks over the county’s handling of grading violations against North Shore James Pflueger and a proposal for a residential, commercial and golf course project on 460 acres north of Hanama’ulu Bay.

In the Pflueger issue, residents complained-and continue to do so- that the county has not acted quickly enough in pursing civil and criminal action against Pflueger.

In the Hanama’ulu Bay issue, residents and the kanaka maoli, the indigenous people of Hawai’i, complained the development of project would deprive them access to the shoreline and use of the area.

Partly because of public concerns, the landowner, EWM Kauai LLC has put off its plans for now.

Crowell was appointed planning director in 1993. He was the deputy planning director for six months before his appointment, replacing Jeff Lacey.

During his ten years with the planning department, Crowell worked with former mayor and now councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura and former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.

Prior to his work with the county, Crowell worked as an architect in Honolulu.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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