Cover: 'It's been a fantastic four years here.'
Madison's top city planner, Steve Cover, is resigning to take a job in Virginia.
Cover says he was offered a position that he calls one of the "top planning jobs in the country": director of community planning and housing development for Arlington County, Virginia, near Washington D.C.
But this is coupled with the fact that he and his wife grew up in the area. "All of my family is there," he says. "I'm in my late 50s now, and I want to be closer to family."
"It was a great opportunity and they offered me the position," he adds. "It was hard to resist. It's been a fantastic four years here. I love the city, the staff, the council and mayor. It's been a good four years."
Mayor Paul Soglin agrees. "It's disappointing to lose such a top department head," Soglin says. "Steve oversaw the department for four exciting years. We got a lot done."
Hired in 2011 under former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Cover helmed one of the city's most high-profile divisions, the Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development.
He was criticized by many neighborhood groups and historic preservationists for being too accommodating to developers. However, others praised his work in trying to balance the city's competing interests while growing.
Soglin says the city will begin a recruitment process and anticipates it could take three months to fill the position.
Ald. Ledell Zellers says it's a key post.
"It's crucial for the health of the city that we get someone strong in that position who understands neighborhoods and can help move the city forward without devaluing what makes the city unique and strong," she says.