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Danielewicz says goodbye to city hall

There’s only a handful of employees who have been with the city as long as Susan Danielewicz.

But there will be one less, as after nearly 31 years as a city planner, she’s decided it’s time to begin the next chapter of her life.

Prior to coming to coming to Boulder City, which she had never been to, Danielewicz served as a city planner in Michigan. But circumstances beyond her control forced her to look elsewhere.

“There was a recession in 1992 and they eliminated my position,” she said. “I did a nationwide job search and I ended up here. I liked the historic nature of it and I always wanted to be in a community that could turn into hopefully something that had an arts aspect to it or a historic and tourism aspect to it.”

Danielewicz said in looking at the downtown area in the early 1990s, the thought that came to mind was, “It has potential.” Things have changed greatly over the years thanks to a major redesign of the area, which made a big difference.

“It’s been a great place to work and I love working with the people,” she said. “There’s been a lot of change here, yet a lot that has remained the same, which helps keep Boulder City charming.”

As for what a city planner does, Danielewicz said there have been several aspects to her job over these years. And being that it’s a smaller staff than other communities, she said they have often worn many hats at any given time.

Her main responsibility has been to review all the permits to ensure compliance with the zoning code. Because of that, she’s had plenty of interaction with the public in helping to guide them through the process.

Next up, she’s handled those applications as they move forward to the city’s Planning Commission, and/or Historic Preservation Commission and Boulder City Council. She writes the majority of the reports that are presented to these various boards.

She also has kept track of the growth within the city via the city’s growth ordinance and its population. In addition to that, she managed the Community Development Block Grant, which helps organizations such as Lend a Hand.

In terms of the city’s growth ordinance, she said during her tenure there’s been one major change to it, that coming in 1996 by way of a public vote. It restricted the sale of land owned by the city.

“I’m very familiar with it (growth ordinance) and am used to tracking everything and making sure the developers don’t violate it,” she said. “The ordinance doesn’t have as much impact as it did decades ago because there’s just not that much vacant, privately-owned land available. There are a handful of privately-owned parcels that could be developed but for the most part, they’ve just stayed vacant for decades.”

In looking back, a couple of the things that stick out most in terms of work the planning department has been involved with include the redesign of the downtown area as well as the city acquiring the El Dorado Valley area in the mid-1990s.

“That opened up the prevention of other communities annexing that land and developing it, but then it also allowed the city to lease land for solar projects,” Danielewicz said.

“There was a lot more development in the 90s than there is now. But that was basically because the land city council had sold back in the 70s and 80s, for the most part, was getting developed during the late 80s and throughout the 90s. So, while a lot of people may have thought the growth control ordinance was being violated at the time, because they saw so many units going up, they were built in compliance with the code. But, it was all land that was sold in decades prior to that. Now that there’s not much vacant land left, development has slowed quite a bit compared to other communities.”

Danielewicz’s 30th anniversary with the city was a year ago. In was in August of this year that she realized that financially the numbers crunched and that retirement was a reality. Today is her last day.

“It’s rare to see a staff member with the immense knowledge about planning, permitting, and processes that Susan possesses,” City Manager Taylor Tedder said. “Residents have depended on her for decades. Her efforts working with the Historic Preservation Commission have helped Boulder City highlight and celebrate what makes us unique. We will miss her dedication and hard work.”

Community Development Director Michael Mays added, “We appreciate Susan’s 30-year dedication to the Community Development Department and the community. Everyone reached out to her because of her thorough knowledge of the Zoning Ordinance.”

Danielewicz said she plans to do the typical retirement things like travel more, see family and friends and take classes.

“I feel the time is right,” she said last week. “It’s beginning to sink in, especially because I need to organize everything so that someone else can take over for me. I’ve been doing it on automatic pilot for so long that there’s knowledge in my head that I’m going to have to somehow put on paper to help my replacement.”

As for the time at the city she said, “I’m going to miss the people. It’s been a true pleasure. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go over the years but it’s been very enjoyable knowing them. It’s also been a pleasure working for a city where the employees genuinely feel happy to be here.”

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Photos by Ron Eland/Boulder City Review

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