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Former Richmond Planning Director Barry Cromartie "No Longer With The City [American Canyon]"
AmCan planning director 'no longer with the city'

By KERANA TODOROV, Register Staff Writer

Thursday, July 13, 2006 1:15 AM PDT

Barry Cromartie, American Canyon's planning director for about a year, is no longer a city employee.

"Barry is no longer with the city as of yesterday at the close of business day," Interim City Manager Dayle Keller confirmed Wednesday.

She declined to further comment on the planning director's departure. "It's confidential," Keller said.

Cromartie, who was hired in May 2005, could not be located Wednesday.

The City Council discussed the planning director's position in closed session Thursday. However, no announcement was made after the meeting.

Keller said she hopes an interim planning director could be hired within two weeks. The search for a new, permanent planning director could take three to four months, she said.

In the meantime, Sandra Cleisz, a senior city planner, and Dennis Corbett, the city's chief building official, will lead the planning department, Keller said.

Vice Mayor Leon Garcia declined to discuss the matter and Mayor Cecil Shaver could not be reached for comment.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Chelle Castagnola on Wednesday said she did not know Cromartie was gone.

"I'm shocked," Castagnola said.

Cromartie has been "very supportive" of her and had done a "good job," she said.

But he did "let a few things slide," Castagnola said, referring a new cell tower ordinance that was never developed.

Cromartie's departure comes a week before the City Council discusses fees developers pay in American Canyon in lieu of building affordable housing units, where the median price of a house in 2005 was $634,090.

Cromartie recommended in June to increase the fee residential developers pay instead of building affordable housing units from $3,000 a unit to $38,778 a unit -- a 1,292-percent increase. Cromartie also recommended a $2-per-square-foot fee on new non-residential developments.

Stravinsky Development Group of Madera has opposed the new non-residential fee, saying it is too high and will steer development away from American Canyon.

But Neil Thompson, development manager for the Stravinski Development Group, a company that builds warehouses, said Cromartie's departure was news to him.

"I know nothing about it," he said.

Vincent Butler of Lake Street Ventures, the developer of Napa Junction, a 40-acre mixed-use project, on Wednesday attributed Cromartie's departure to a lack of experience and productivity.

His company's application for a 12-acre retail development at Napa Junction has been complete since July 2005, he said. But the city is still processing the application.

"Increasing the fees is a completely separate issue," said Butler, adding the city has the opportunity to find a new planning director with experience in the public and private sectors who knows how to process large land-use projects.

Another developer, Ken Baki, project manager for Standard Pacific Homes, the company that's developing the Vintage Ranch subdivision east of Highway 29/Broadway, said he did not know that Cromartie was no longer the city's planning director.

"It's the first I've heard of it," Baki said Wednesday, who found the news "surprising."

Human Resources Director Bronda Silva said Cromartie was paid $118,439 a year.

Planning director departs American Canyon, reason unknown

By DAN JUDGE, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

AMERICAN CANYON - The turmoil at City Hall grew Wednesday with the confirmation that Planning Director Barry Cromartie is no longer employed by the city.

Citing confidentiality laws, city officials declined to say if Cromartie resigned or was fired.

"I just got the notice he is leaving and we're going to have to look for a new planning director," Mayor Cecil Shaver said.

Human Resources Director Bronda Silva would only confirm that Cromartie left city employment on Tuesday, a little more than a year after being hired from the city of Richmond.

Cromartie did not return telephone calls for comment on Wednesday.

The planning director's departure is just the latest blow to a depleted city management team.

Longtime City Manager Mark Joseph resigned in December and Finance Director Elizabeth Wessman-McGee died from cancer in March, leaving those posts to be temporarily filled by interim department heads.

Adding to the upheaval was the resignation of Vice Mayor Lori Luporini in February, who was finally replaced in the June primary by the election of Joan Bennett to the council.

Silva said it is not yet known if the city will hire an interim planning director or start to immediately recruit a permanent replacement for Cromartie.

"With this just happening yesterday, obviously we don't have a feel for that yet," she said.

The mayor said it is hard to determine the impact Cromartie's departure might have on a number of city projects.

Shaver noted that several of them - including the town center, the Oat Hill development area and general plan update - are actually being "farmed out" to consultants.

"I don't know what effect it's going to have on other projects or day-to-day operations," he said. "We're going to have to do a lot of recruiting, I guess."

Vice Mayor Leon Garcia would not discuss the status of Cromartie's employment but said he did not expect any difficulties.

"I don't anticipate there to be a problem in any department if an employee is no longer there," he said. "The process is to find an interim for planning or any department."

The city hired Cromartie in 2005 after a three-year search to find a permanent replacement for former Planning Director Chris Gustin who resigned in 2002 to take a job in Vacaville.

Before taking the American Canyon post, Cromartie headed up Richmond's planning department for three years. Prior to that he served a brief stint in Tracy and roughly a decade in Emeryville.