Editor’s note: This article is part of a series profiling the members of the Islands Planning and Mainland Planning commissions.
Compared to the eight years he spent on the Glynn County Commission, Richard Strickland ought to have no problem serving on the Mainland Planning Commission.
“I was a county commissioner for eight years. I was elected to two terms to serve District 3, and during those eight years I was chairman for two years,” Strickland said. “... I don’t think there’s been a week gone by that I haven’t told my wife ‘I can do this planning commissioner stuff standing on my head after all the meetings and all the events and all the work sessions I went to as a county commissioner.’ After all that, to do only one meeting a month, I have no regrets at all about being on the planning commission.”
County Commissioner Bill Brunson appointed Strickland in January to a four-year term on the planning commission, which Strickland said he’s already got experience dealing with.
“I had occasion to deal with the Islands and Mainland planning commissions during those eight years,” Strickland said. “I fully understand what the duties and responsibilities of planning commissions are, and I figured it would be a way I could continue to serve the community.”
Strickland moved to Glynn County in the 1970s while serving in the U.S. Navy, taking the role of air traffic control instructor with the technical training center at Naval Air Station Glynco. He continued in that role for four years before taking a job with the Glynn County Police Department.
He retired as Glynn County Emergency Management Agency director in 2008 after working his way up through the ranks for 30 years.
“I see the planning commission as an extension of the Community Development Department. I think we have a very capable and knowledgable staff headed by (department Director) Pam Thompson. We’re there to stimulate growth in Glynn County, and at the same time make sure it’s manageable and sustainable,” Strickland said. “As one of my fellow commissioners pointed out, we have a lot of vacant buildings. We don’t need to be building just to build additional buildings. So we need to make sure we approve growth that’s going to be sustainable over the long run.”
The MPC’s ultimate goal should be to facilitate growth in the county, he explained.
“We need to make sure we do everything we can to stimulate economic development and growth in Glynn County,” Strickland said. “I don’t want to be repetitious because I think my fellow planning commissioners, both Islands and Mainland, have pointed out the county commission appropriated funds so the ordinance dealing with zoning will mesh well with the new comprehensive plan, so I think it’s important the Islands and Mainland Planning Commission have a part in that.”
Strickland said that its important that the new zoning ordinance doesn’t infringe on private property rights.
“That’s so important. Some people think this is how it should be done, but you have to keep in mind the consequences of the ordinances and that they can, at times, have an adverse impact on the community,” Strickland said. “Some of those have been in effect for decades, and they need to be revised or updated and need to be where they’re clearly understood. They need to be user-friendly to the people who need to know what’s in those ordinances. I think that’s where the Islands and Mainland planning commissions can play an integral part in that, working with the consultant that’s been hired and the staff to get the best possible ordinance out of this.”
Some of his peers have expressed a desire to amend the planning commissions’ bylaws, but Strickland said they seem straightforward enough to him.
“I know that the (MPC) chairman and a couple of the island commissioners have said they’d like to rewrite the bylaws,” Strickland said. “But I’d read the bylaws as a county commissioner and I’ve read the bylaws as a planning commissioner, and I’m sure there could be some changes made, but there are only four pages, and they pretty much lay out everything the planning commissioners need to know. But there’s always a better way of doing something, so I’ll wait and see.
He also had a word of advice for his fellow planning commissioners.
“I think it’s important for the commissions — whether it’s Islands or Mainland planning commission — to remember it’s their job to make recommendations to the (county commission). (It) has final authority to make any decisions about what takes place,” Strickland said. “Our opinions and our own agenda don’t matter. What matters is that we follow the ordinances and the regulations and that’s what we go by.”
“I’d like to thank Commissioner (Bill) Brunson for appointing me, and I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners in the coming years.”