Eugene Planning Director Takes Position in Missouri
Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard
Tom Coyle, credited with making Eugene's planning department more responsive to developers while also sticking to the city's planning goals, on Tuesday announced that he's leaving to become planning director of Kansas City, Mo.
Coyle said the chance to become the top planner in the city of 442,000 people was too good to pass up. "It's just a rare opportunity," he said. "It's a career-defining opportunity."
Coyle, 48, has been the director of the Eugene Planning and Development Department since August 2001. The department's 105 employees deal with city planning, construction permits, business licensing, land use zoning, economic development, affordable housing and enforcement of nuisance laws.
Architect John Lawless, president of the city's planning commission, said Coyle's guidance steered the department in a way that developers and property owners appreciated. But, he said, Coyle remained "focused on the city's fundamental planning goals" that encourage such things as compact growth and livable neighborhoods.
Coyle said he is proud of improving the department's customer service, and of its role in developing the new federal courthouse near the Willamette riverfront, as well as the planned Oregon Research Institute office building near the downtown library.
Coyle said he urged his staff to cooperate with both builders and neighborhood groups. "The regulatory mindset that is often prevalent in land use regulation has been redirected to a win-win emphasis," he said.
Eugene's land use rules and planning procedures have been contentious for years. Critics who believed that the city was anti-growth would sometimes blame the planning department.
Eugene commercial real estate broker Tim Campbell said that since Coyle's arrival, the planning department has become "more accessible and friendly" for developers and property owners seeking city approval of their projects.
"Communication is great now," Campbell said. "Before he came, you went in to the planning department with your jaw clenched ready to do battle. …