Greenville Planning Commission seeks planning candidates
GREENVILLE — Following the retirement of city planner Tim Johnson in December, members of the Greenville Planning Commission began looking for a replacement.
During Thursday’s meeting, City Manager George Bosanic provided an update on the hiring process, saying the city is currently soliciting all Requests for Qualifications (RFQs), seeking “qualified” companies that may be interested in taking on the role of official city planner. .
Johnson, of MainStreet Planning in Grand Rapids, previously held the position in Greenville, with his wife Janis Johnson, for 19 years.
“They are going to be difficult to replace,” commissioner Jack Corner said.
Bosanic said the deadline for interested candidates to submit nominations to the city will be Tuesday.
“We’ll put these (requests for quotes) together and send them out to all of you for your consideration and review,” Bosanic said. “We will conduct interviews with the qualified companies and you can recommend a selection to the city council for recommendation to replace MainStreet Planning and we will move forward.”
With the majority of commissioners unfamiliar with the process of hiring a new planner, Bosanic said city staff will prepare a list of questions for commissioners to ask each candidate during the interview process, along with any additional questions that commissioners may have.
We will provide you with questions to ask and that’s okay, you can count on the staff to be considered,” he said. “Really your job is to look at their qualifications and really see who is the best fit. It’s really an opportunity for you, as individuals and as a commission, to see who’s interested and feel them personally because you’re going to be working with them.
Bosanic said other things the commission should consider are the application workload, as well as the distance needed to get to Greenville.
“If they’re serving 50 customers, that means they’re extremely spread out,” he said. “So you want to know what their purpose is, their business model and where do we fit in there? The other thing you might want to think about is location. If we get someone from UP, let’s say Marquette, we’re going to pay a lot of money to get them to the meetings and back. Even with someone on the east side of the state, how much are we willing to pay to travel? This is not a “low price” type of offer. It will be based on their qualifications. In situations like this, you probably get what you pay for.
Commissioner Jeremy Miller asked if the commission should be concerned about the potential cost.
“So financially, there is no ceiling?” He asked.
“That should be the last consideration,” Bosanic replied. “You leave that closed until you go through their qualifications. It’s sort of a weighted system here, as we determine who is best suited for all of these various reasons. The emphasis here is that this is not an offer, it is a request for qualifications. We are looking for their professional experience.
Miller then asked what the commission could do if it received no nominees, a situation he said the Montcalm County government recently encountered — speaking on behalf of his position as county commissioner — when commissioners were seeking a new law firm (only one law firm applied and was therefore hired).
“My feeling is that there will be (candidates),” Bosanic said.
“We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere as far as lower Michigan goes, and if you have consultants targeting the Grand Rapids or Lansing areas, we’re kind of on the fringes of those. We have encountered this in the past. People just don’t want to venture that way. Tim happened to be in Rockford, he didn’t live far away, but that can be a problem.
“However, we are a big and small city,” he continued. “We can see a consultant saying, ‘we thought of that, doing business in West Michigan,’ so we can see that. It could be fun.