Franklin County planning administrator Lee Brown will be Worthington's first director of planning and building.

Franklin County planning administrator Lee Brown will be Worthington's first director of planning and building.

Worthington City Council on July 8 voted to hire Brown, completing a six-month search for the right person to head the city's new planning and building department.

The new department and position are part of the reorganization of city government that places more emphasis on development and redevelopment.

The new department is expected to be busy with such projects as the Shops at Worthington Place, the apartments planned for Worthington Place, the development of the United Methodist Children's Home site, the Wilson Bridge Road corridor redevelopment and any development that might occur on land being annexed in Linworth.

"There is a lot going on," City Manager Matt Greeson said. "We are having an uptick in economic development. We wanted to increase the planning and building staff without increasing the budget."

The Planning and Building Department and the Service and Engineering Department replace the former engineering and service departments.

Former city engineer Bill Watterson is the director of the new Service and Engineering Department.

Former service department director David Groth retired at the end of 2012.

Brown was one of 23 applicants for the position, which was advertised in professional publications and on the city website.

Development coordinator Lynda Bitar was the only internal applicant.

Eleven candidates were selected for interviews, and six moved on to intensive interviews with community and professional panels.

Brown was chosen because of his educational background and planning experience that includes several high-profile initiatives and because he has worked with so many jurisdictions in central Ohio, Greeson said.

Brown also is likeable and professional, he said.

"We thought he was a good fit for Worthington," Greeson said.

Brown worked for Franklin County for 10 years. From 2003 to 2007, he was a planner. In 2007, he was promoted to planning administrator.

From 1998 to 2003, he was a planner with the Licking County Planning Commission in Newark.

Brown has a B.A. in geography/urban development from the University of Kentucky and a Master of City and Regional Planning from Ohio State University.

His salary will be $92,500. With benefits, the employment package is worth about $120,000, city personnel director Lori Trego said.

Brown will begin with the city in early August.