After six years leading the charge for development and growth in Dexter Township, Patrick Sloan, the township's planning and zoning director, will resign his position on July 9.
Sloan, 31, recently accepted a position as a community planner with McKenna Associates in Northville.
"Having the opportunity to work with local municipalities to plan for future development is something I've always been interested in and I'm very much looking forward to doing more of that with this new position," he said.
A 1997 graduate of , Sloan received his undergraduate degree in political science and a Master's degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan. He spent much of his early career in community planning, first as an assistant in the Livingston County Department of Planning and then Dexter Township.
As director, Sloan has spent the last six years working alongside the township Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to enforce the township's zoning ordinances and developing a master land use plan to accommodate ongoing growth in western Washtenaw County.
"This job is kind of unique because it's everything from future planning all the way down to the present and enforcing the current ordinances and making sure people are following the rules, and people understand the rules," he said.
That aspect has been both challenging and rewarding.
"If there are zoning regulations that residents feel are ineffective or too stringent, I can propose changes to those rules to the Planning Commission, which has been a very positive experience," Sloan said. "The challenging part is when there are good rules that are hard to enforce. A lot of my time is spent doing ordinance administration and educating the public how they can best use the rules to do what they want.
"For the most part, we've been able to relax some of the regulations that are ineffective or unpopular and come up with regulations that are not just supported by township officials, but the public as a whole."
One of the biggest changes Sloan personally oversaw included rewriting regulations for the township's lakes residential district, which includes Portage Lake, Silver Lake, North Lake, and Half Moon Lake.
"Each of the lakes has a historically dense residential pattern. When the property lots were originally created, they were created to be primarily part-time cottages, and over the decades they have evolved into lots with full-time single family homes," Sloan explained. "Therefore one of the challenges of the township has been trying to maintain the size and scale of newer buildings in keeping with the character of existing neighborhoods and preventing some common problems with development, such as storm water issues."
In hindsight, Sloan acknowledged that not all of his decisions have been popular among residents.
"You have to have thick skin for this job. People are very passionate about development, and that's understandable, but they still have to play by the rules," he said.
He will miss a lot about his position, he said.
“It’s more than just a job,” Sloan said. “It’s being part of a community."
The community connections are what he will miss most by far, he said. The Canton resident said he still plans to visit Dexter from time to time, but he won’t have the same contact with people as he does now, he said.
Township Supervisor Pat Kelly said Sloan has been a huge asset to the community.
"He has been the go-to guy for countless questions, issues and project ideas," she said. "Patrick tries to help everyone out within the limits of the law."
The township board accepted Sloan's resignation at their meeting in June and is currently accepting applications for a new planning and zoning director.