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City planner to leave Flowery Branch
Riker named planning and development director for Duluth
james riker 0608
James Riker

Flowery Branch planner James Riker will be leaving his role as that city’s planning and development expert for the same job in Duluth.

His last day is today.

Riker has been with Flowery Branch for nearly eight years as the small South Hall city worked to capitalize upon its prerecession population growth.

“James Riker has been a tremendous asset for the city of Flowery Branch,” Mayor Mike Miller said.

“The institutional knowledge, along with his education and planning background, will be a huge loss, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavor with the city of Duluth. Our loss is certainly their gain.”

The decision to leave Flowery Branch was a difficult one, Riker said, as he greatly values both the working and personal relationships he forged there.

“Moving forward, city planning activities will be handled in the immediate future by city staff, led by City Manager Bill Andrew, and on an hourly consultant basis with Pond and Co.,” explained Miller.

“They serve as our city engineer right now,” Riker said.

“Although his shoes will be hard to fill, the council wants to take our time to find a suitable replacement for Mr. Riker,” the mayor continued. “We will begin an active search for his replacement in the coming weeks with no timetable in place to find a replacement. We want to make sure we have the right person for the job.”

“As I understand it,” Riker said, “the council is still determining the scope of the work.

“We have a super competent city manager,” said Riker. “And an existing staff that is very committed. I expect that in a very short time we will see Flowery Branch change in a very positive way,” he said.

“The work Mr. Riker has done leading up to his departure has the city on a schedule for public hearings for several projects already planned through the month of February,” Miller said.

“In regards to the downtown revitalization effort, Mr. Riker has worked closely with City Manager Bill Andrew to get that project moving forward, and nothing will change with the current schedule to complete demolition and green field the Mooney (Manufacturing) property. The City Council will work in the next month to develop a timeline for the master plan of downtown, which will include the selection of a consultant to develop that plan.”

Riker said that he believes there are very bright days ahead for the city.

“I feel confident that the city is laying the groundwork.”

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