LONG BEACH - Long Beach Community Development Director John Schelling will be leaving his position with the city later this month. June 24 will be his last day at work. He will be taking the job of senior planner for SeaTac with a larger planning department.

"It's purely for personal reasons," he said. "It was a tremendously difficult decision."

Schelling said he based his decision on the need to be closer to loved ones. He also has a family member in Florida in delicate health and is concerned he may need to take extended leave on short notice. The larger department, of about 10 employees, will allow him that flexability without negatively impacting the city.

"I need to be in a position where I won't feel like I'm abandoning or hampering an entire city," because of an absence he said.

But he will take away good memories from his time working and living in Long Beach. "It's been an honor and a privilege to work here. I appreciate the opportunity," he said. "I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been absolutely wonderful."

Schelling said he feels the city has accomplished a lot in the past year. Progress has been made on the sign ordinance, an ordinance regulating adult business was passed, the zoning ordinance was clarified and rewritten, and the city has begun the process of reviewing and rewriting the various documents associated with development and growth such as the comprehensive plan and the Shoreline Master Program.

He credits a group effort with those successes. "The city of Long Beach has a wonderful group of elected officials, staff and community. I will sure miss them," he said.

Schelling joined with the city in August 2005, taking over from then Interim Community Development Director Michael Davolio. He came from Pinellas Park, Fla., where he was the principal planner. While there his responsibilies included developing and administering the comprehensive plan, disaster response and recovery and hazard mitigation. He graduated in 2002 from the University of South Florida with a master's degree in public administration.

His new position will emphasize development review and ongoing planning. "I love what I do," he said.

Although he will be moving away, he said he anticipates returning for festivals and events, just for fun. "I plan to visit," he said. "We'll be back."

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