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La Plata County hires community development director

Neal Starkebaum joins county amid rocky land-use code rewrite
La Plata County announced Friday the hiring of a community development director.

La Plata County has hired a community development director, nearly four months after the resignation of Planning Director Jason Meininger.

In February, Meininger announced he planned to resign, which took effect March 1.

With the shakeup, county officials decided to restructure how the building and planning departments are set up.

The building and planning departments have been combined and now fall under the oversight of the community development director.

The county announced Friday that Neal Starkebaum, who has served as the assistant director of the Gunnison County Community and Economic Development Department since 1998, will fill that role starting Tuesday.

“Neal’s knowledge and experience with planning and building issues in Western Colorado make him a perfect match for our community and will serve La Plata County well,” La Plata County Manager Chuck Stevens said in a prepared statement.

Starkebaum joins the county amid a rocky attempt to update the county’s land-use codes, which haven’t experienced a significant overhaul since the 1980s, despite years of failed attempts.

Starkebaum will oversee the 10-person Planning Department, as well as the eight-person Building Department.

Daniel Murray will serve as the planning manager, and Butch Knowlton will remain as building director.

Megan Graham, spokeswoman for the county, said Starkebaum would be made available for interviews next week once he starts the job.

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