Highlands has been searching for a full time Planning Director since October 2010, when Planning Director Joe Cooley abruptly resigned under pressure. Shortly following Cooley's resignation, Mark Maxwell was named to Interim Town Planner, but was terminated in July.
David Allen Clabo, who has worked for the private and public sector in Georgia and Virginia, was one of three finalists to be considered for the position.
Along with the responsibility of the new position, Clabo will receive $55,000 annually, a three-month rent stipend, and all of the standard benefits that are offered to the Town of Highlands employees.
Although Thursday is his first official day on the payroll, Clabo has spent the last few weeks brainstorming ideas on how to improve Highlands. According to Clabo, he is looking forward to overseeing the development of new ordinances and ensuring those ordinances are implemented correctly. “I want to see the planning department apply all the ordinances effectively and efficiently,” said Clabo.
Another focus point Clabo is looking forward to implementing is the continued preservation of the environment that surrounds Highlands. “From my few short visits to the area, I can see that everything is very well preserved, and it is something that I have to and want to make sure continues to be done.”
Clabo received a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Augusta College in Augusta, Ga., before attending the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta where he completed all of his course work in Masters of City Planning Program.
Beginning his career in Goochland, Va., Clabo served as Director of Planning for Goochland County for more than three years. Clabo was responsible for the review and revision of land development ordinances and handling growth management issues in a conservative political arena. While working in Goochland, he was also instrumental in updating Comprehensive Plan element. Clabo was also the Planning Director for Jackson County in Jefferson, Ga.
Clabo’s impressive resume also includes more than four years working for Spotsylvania County in Spotsylvania, Va., as the Assistant County Administrator. While in the position, Clabo served as project manager for a major sewer line extension for the county. He also worked at the County’s Code Compliance Director for three years.
Clabo’s first position in Georgia was as the Community Development Director for the City of Roswell in Roswell, Ga. For more than a year, he was responsible for plan reviews for different phases of land development in the County such as economic development, planning and zoning, erosion control, building inspections, environmental engineering, and code enforcement.
Serving as the very first City Manager for the City of Jefferson in Jefferson, Ga., where he held the position for five years. He worked for the city during a major growth corridor and worked to establish a pro-business environment and helped to promote rapid growth in the City. Clabo also served as City Manager for the City of Dallas in Dallas, Georgia, where he worked as primary staff to the Mayor and City Planning Commission.
Clabo’s experience offers promise to the Town of Highlands. In addition to his resume, Clabo’s excitement and dedication to his new role is admirable. “I am looking forward to working with the Town and people of Highlands,” he said.
Fully accepting the challenge of Highlands being the first “second home” town he has worked for, Clabo welcomes the challenge and is confident in his ability to continue the successful leadership Highlands has seen in the past. “Never have worked in a town with such a prominent second home market will definitely prove to be challenging, but I look forward to learning and continuing the efforts of the Commissioners and town people.
The Town of Highlands officials are glad to have finally filled the position. “I am very happy to have the position filled and feel that we have found a very qualified individual to fill that slot,” said Commissioner Gary Drake. “I am looking forward to start working with him later this week.”
Aside from his role as planning director, Clabo hopes to build a strong rapport with the community. “The community has a right to speak to and be a part of the town. I want to continue promoting citizen participation as best as possible.”
Whenever he finds the time, Clabo enjoys the outdoors, which is another reason he is excited to be calling Highlands home. “I love woodworking and photography; I am looking forward to all the areas and new landscape that I can photograph. I will be using lots of film and taking several digital pictures in the next few months. It’s going to be marvelous.”
Clabo fell in love with the mountains when he and his family visited the Highlands area several years ago. Clabo’s wife Glenda will make the move to Macon County after their son graduates from high school at the end of the school year. Along with his wife and son, Clabo’s 95-year-old grandmother will also be making the move to Highlands. “My family and I love the mountains and this area and we are looking forward to making the move and calling Macon County home.”