City of Amarillo adds new assistant city manager

Amarillo is the fourteenth largest city in Texas in terms of population, and itâ??s projected to gain another 20,000 people in the next 20 years. And developing and expanding the city to accommodate that growth is easier said than done.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Amarilloâ??s population was 157,615 in 1990, and today we stand at just under 200,000. And for the most part, the infrastructure has been able to keep pace with population growth. But in recent years, the cityâ??s lengthy zoning and annexation processes have actually created a backlog of new development applications awaiting approval.

So as part of their 2010 Comprehensive Plan, the city recently created a new position designed to address that backlog to foster continued expansion.

â??We hope to streamline that process for developers and to manage our growth internally, within our departments, focused on that growth,â?? said Deputy City Manager Vicki Covey. â??We take you from planning your project or subdivision that you want to do through getting a permit and having a certificate of occupancy, all under one management head.â??

Bob Cowell is currently the director of the city of College Stationâ??s planning and development department. And on December 16th, Cowell will assume the role of Amarilloâ??s new Assistant City Manager for Development Services, which means heâ??ll be overseeing about 600 employees and multiple departments, including Building Safety, Planning, Water Distribution, and Traffic Administration.

â??Theyâ??re all oriented for the most part toward servicing development,â?? said Mr. Cowell in a phone interview. â??Either creating development opportunities or at least responding to development needs as they occur within the city. From my understanding and my communications, things there work very well; this is really not to fix problems as much as it is to realize new opportunities.â??

You can learn more about the new position or see the city of Amarilloâ??s 2010 Comprehensive Plan for yourself at the links attached to this story.