Johnston to step down as Fredericksburg’s Director of Planning and Building

by | Jun 26, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Government

Chuck Johnston is stepping down as Fredericksburg’s director of community planning and building, he confirmed to the Free Press Wednesday morning.

Johnston, who has served in that role for 11 years, will retire effective Oct. 1.

“Oh, it’s time,” Johnston, 69, said in a phone interview. “My wife kept saying, ‘When are you going to retire?’ And it’s the right time in our lives to do that.”

Johnston’s first task upon being hired was to oversee the merging of the city’s planning and building departments, which to that point were separate entities, he explained.

He said one of the highlights of his tenure was being involved with the development of Small Area Plans, which implement the goals of the city’s comprehensive plan “down to a retail level” in individual neighborhoods.

“The city has never really had a coordinated downtown plan,” he said. “There’s been a lot of plans for downtown, but never a downtown plan.

“There’s been a whole shift in land use regulations, away from what you do on a property — zoning — to how you do it.”

Johnston’s announcement marks the third departure of a high-level city staffer in recent months. In May, longtime city attorney Kathleen Dooley announced her retirement following 20 years of service, while Tourism and Economic Development Director Bill Freehling stepped down last week.

Johnston said he and his wife previously lived in the northern Shenandoah Valley and are looking to relocate to southern Rockingham County, near Harrisonburg.

“The mountains there are really calling to us,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

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