Correction: Deputy Director Kevin Vonck was hired in August 2020. An earlier version of this story said he was hired the previous year based on information from the city that was incorrect.
Richmond’s planning director for the past decade is no longer with the city.
Mark Olinger, the city’s director of planning and development review for nearly 10 years, resigned Friday, a city spokesman confirmed.
A reason for Olinger’s departure was not provided, and attempts by BizSense to reach him over social media were not successful Tuesday. A call to Olinger’s mobile phone prompted an automated message saying the number had been restricted.
Deputy Director Kevin Vonck, who joined the city in August of 2020, will lead the department as acting director.
Olinger’s exit abruptly follows several big initiatives that he had been leading that drew some controversy. Biggest among them was the years-in-the-making Richmond 300 master plan update, which the City Council adopted last month with the caveat that amendments to the plan would be made.
Olinger also had been driving the latest phase of zoning amendments related to the city’s Pulse Corridor Plan. Proposed changes, which opponents had said contradicted that plan, had been targeting areas north of Broad Street from the Fan District before they were put on hold late last year. Other initiatives included rules for short-term home rentals and changes to the city’s B-3 zoning district.
Asked if Olinger had given notice that he planned to resign, Jim Nolan, a spokesman for Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration, said the city does not comment on personnel matters.
Olinger had worked for the city since September 2011, when he was hired as director after stints in similar roles in Madison, Wisconsin, and Dayton, Ohio, according to his LinkedIn page. His last day with Richmond was Thursday. His annual salary had reached $142,867.
Vonck, whose current salary is $125,000, was hired last August after working as development director for Green Bay, Wisconsin. He will oversee a Richmond department totaling 106 employees with 18 staff vacancies.
On Friday, the city announced informational meetings related to proposed zoning changes aimed at promoting supportive housing and recommended in the Richmond 300 plan. The announcement listed Vonck among city contacts for information about the changes.
Olinger is the latest high-ranking employee to part ways with City Hall.
Last month, Lawrence Anderson, the City Council chief of staff, left for a job with Baltimore, Maryland. Last March, Doug Dunlap, the city’s housing, community and development director, resigned with a nearly six-figure payout, according to a Times-Dispatch report.
In 2018, then-building commissioner Doug Murrow parted ways with City Hall after seven years leading the building inspections and permitting office.