Don Smallwood, chairman of the Hall County Planning Commission, presided over his last meeting Monday.
He is retiring from his role on the commission, but he said he plans to stay busy with his business D-Jay Petroleum.
Smallwood has been on the commission since 1997.
The role put Smallwood at the center of debates over growth and change in Hall County during a time when the county’s population has grown by almost 50 percent.
“Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s not. You just have to try to be fair and try to listen to everybody’s concerns and hope you can help everybody you can,” Smallwood said after the meeting. “You have to be fair to the applicant, you have to be fair to the neighbors, and you have to be fair to the county.”
Speaking to planning staff and fellow commissioners at the end of Monday’s three-hour meeting, Smallwood thanked colleagues.
“It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to serve with you guys, and the staff does a good job for us and makes our job easier,” he said.
Planning Commissioner Chris Braswell praised Smallwood’s leadership when announcing his retirement Monday.
“You’ve been an inspiration. You bring a lot of experience to us, wisdom, and many of you don’t know, but he really is a referee in real life,” Braswell said. “He will throw the flag at us every now and then.”
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will soon appoint a new planning commissioner, and then the Planning Commission will vote on a new chairperson, according to Srikanth Yamala, the county’s planning director.