City begins process to fill planner’s position

ALPENA – The City of Alpena has begun its search for a new planning and development director to replace Greg Sundin, who was hired to be city manager in April. The city is running ads and hopes to have a new director in place by the middle of summer.

Sundin said the city will begin accepting resumes and applications immediately and will begin the interview process shortly after the submission deadline on June 3 passes.

“We began advertising and the ad has gone out and should begin being passed along on Friday. It is also on the city’s web page and we are also advertising through the American Planning Association- Michigan Chapter,” Sundin said. “We ask that all letters of interest and resumes be in by June 3 and then we can begin the interviewing process and hopefully have somebody in place sometime in July.”

Sundin said members of the planning commission, the administrative staff at city hall and perhaps leaders of the Downtown Development Authority, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Target Alpena and the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce could be a part of the hiring process. He said the hiring is done by the city manager and does not need council approval, even though he intends to update the council during the process. Sundin said whoever the new director is, they will need to be able to work well with staff, as well as economic development experts outside of city hall.

“In terms of the interviewing we could include someone from the chamber, Target, the DDA or the CVB. We work very closely with those entities, so having input from them is a distinct possibility,” Sundin said. “It certainly won’t bother me to have a few more people involved.”

Sundin said he has made a few alterations to the job description for the planning and development department. He said certain duties that were previously handled by the director he will continue to do moving forward and others will be left to the building inspector.

“One modification is that previously the planning and development director directed and supervised the building department. That will no longer be the case,” Sundin said. “The building department will more or less operate on its own, which in a lot of ways it already is. The new planner will also take on the duty of staff person for the zoning board of appeals, as well as the historic district study committee.”

Sundin said several of the responsibilities he had while planning and development director he will keep at his new position, but said the new planner will work closely with him on them.

“I … will be retaining certain things that the planner used to do,” Sundin said. “I will remain on the Thunder Bay Transportation Authority board and also being the executive director of the brownfield authority. Lastly I will remain the primary city contact for economic development, however the planner will work very closely with that and over time probably take on more and more responsibility.”

As Alpena becomes more attractive to potential developers, Sundin said finding the right person to deal with them, as well as staff and other economic development partners is critical.

“Every individual is different and they have to find their way and what works best for them,” Sundin said. “They may do things in a different way that I did, but that is not bad. It is good to get new ideas and fresh perspectives. I was in that position almost 15 years and they might see things a different way and that is a positive, but I also hope there will be some things I can pass on to that person from my experience. That could be helpful to him or her.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at