Monday, Aug. 13, 2018



New chief faces challenges

Longtime Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) employee Alan Clarke assumes the duties of interim executive director on Aug. 16.

Clarke replaces Mark Sweeney, whose last day is Aug. 15. Sweeney accepted a position in Oklahoma a few days after the MPC Board refused to allow his employment contract to renew automatically.

Clarke was selected at the Aug. 1 meeting of the MPC Board. Dale Colvin (who nominated Clarke), Theron Jackson, Curtis Joseph, Ronnie Remedies and Bessie Smith voted for Clarke. Nancy Cooper and Winzer Andrews voted against Clarke. Board members Lea Desmarteau and Alan Young were not at the meeting.

Clarke will head up the MPC until the next “permanent” executive director is hired. The 2018 MPC budget is $1.35 million; the lion’s share is funded by the Shreveport City Council. Other funding is from the Caddo Commission and various fees charged by the MPC.

Clarke has over 20 years’ experience with the MPC. He served as the zoning administrator before becoming the interim executive director.

Zoning Enforcement has the largest staff within the MPC, and its primary function is to investigate alleged violations of the zoning laws. The Zoning Office averages over 3,500 zoning inspections each year. Certificates of occupancy, home occupation applications and sign permits are also a function of the Zoning Office.

As the interim executive director, Clarke will also oversee the other MPC departments: Land Development, Community Planning and GIS, and Mapping.

One challenge for Clarke will be funding for 2019 from the Shreveport City Council and the Caddo Commission. Both bodies have had numerous complaints about the MPC, and there have been discussions by members of each concerning 2019 funding.

The city budget will be adopted in December, and the commission budget is early January. The 2019 budget request adopted in the August meeting requested the parish to increase its funding from 200 grand to $272,950. The city request was the same as this year – $887,800. The total proposed 2019 budget is $1.456 million.

Clarke’s performance will be judged by the building and development community from day one. This group had constant complaints about Sweeney.

Council and Commission members will get a quick read on his leadership as judged by the number of complaints they receive as well as the number of permits the MPC processes.

For the last year, there have been dark clouds over the MPC office. Clarke’s experience and professional demeanor should provide muchneeded stability to this embattled office.

John E. Settle Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742-5513 or e-mail to: John@jesettle.com.


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