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New planner managing Grovetown's rapid growth

Grovetown planner has tough job

Posted: April 28, 2013 - 12:00am  |  Updated: May 15, 2013 - 12:00am
Frank Neal Jr., the Columbia County Community Services Division director from 1999 to 2003, recently started as Grovetown's new city planner and redevelopment manager.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Frank Neal Jr., the Columbia County Community Services Division director from 1999 to 2003, recently started as Grovetown's new city planner and redevelopment manager.

Managing Grovetown’s growth is the chief concern of the city’s new planning director.

Frank Neal Jr. will have his hands full trying to tame the city’s rapid growth.

“Grovetown is actually the fastest growing area in the whole CSRA,” Neal said. “Our numbers are almost out of control.”

Neal started as the city planner and redevelopment manager in mid-March.

“He’s got vision,” Grovetown Mayor George James said. “He knows what to do. He looks out there and sees what’s needed.

“He’s a good guy and he’s going to help us tremendously in a lot of ways.”

Neal has been here before, serving from April 1999 to January 2003 as the director of Columbia County Community Services Division.

Now back in Grovetown, Neal is charged with planning and implementing the city’s Urban Redevelopment Plan, which city officials approved a year ago. The plan is aimed at eliminating blighted properties and redeveloping a city center.

Neal said he’s almost ready to bid a project out to revamp the city’s zoning ordinances.

“I told (city leaders) coming in, this stuff is not going to happen overnight,” Neal said. “It may take years before you see some of this stuff happens, but you’ve got to lay the groundwork.”

Planning is in Neal’s wheelhouse. He was the planning director for Tybee Island and the Statesboro city planner and executive director of the Mainstreet Development Authority there.

As the director of Columbia County Community Services Division, Neal formed the county’s first Recreation and Greenspace master plans. He also planned the development of the Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center, Blanchard Park and improvements to Wildwood Park including the installation of boat ramps.

He’s proud of how those now popular and actively used properties turned out.

In 2003, Neal left for Hilton Head Island, where he served as the head of construction, development and architectural review for a private residential community on Daufuskie Island.

He also ran The Neal Group, a construction, development and community planning company, for several years before returning to the CSRA to be closer to family.

City Manager Shirley Beasley said Neal’s extensive municipal experience made him the right choice for the new position. “He’s a professional,” Beasley said.

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