New planner a familiar face in Grand County
Bill Gray worked as a planner for Grand County for nearly 10 years before taking a position in Eagle and, later, Colorado Springs.
But for Gray, the allure of Grand County was just too much.
After spending more than a decade elsewhere, Gray has returned to Grand County to head its planning and zoning department.
Since starting on Jan.5, he’s been busy with the usual duties of his office, overseeing the permitting of a new gravel pit near Kremmling as well as handling the minutiae of a county planning department.
“It’s just kind of lots of little minor things,” Gray said. “Allowing people to build their new single family home or vary the regulations to allow them to build a covered walkway that they’ve always wanted on the side of their home, so nothing real significant right now.”
It may not sound like the most exciting job to some, but it’s Gray’s passion.
“The most rewarding part of my job is doing something that I like to do, and it’s in a place where I enjoy being here and living here,” he said.
It’s been a long journey that has finally brought Gray back to Grand County.
He got his degree in urban planning and design from the University at Buffalo and, after a lengthy stint as a planner in Grand County, took the position of town planner in Eagle.
After more than five years in Eagle, Gray took a position with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs in Colorado Springs doing grant management for the energy impact program and community development block grant program.
While with DOLA, Gray worked with a number of communities from the southeastern corner of the state.
Early this year, Gray returned to take over as head planner for the county.
It’s a job with unique challenges, he said.
“Trying to fit the interests of what a property owner wants to do within the adopted regulations, that’s always a challenge,” Gray said.
He joked that he and a friend once called the position “the most hated in the county.”
“You’re working with them kind of in a regulatory regime and trying to balance what they want to do with what your codes require, and you’re not always giving people the happy answer that they want,” Gray said.
Notwithstanding the tiffs and minor conflicts that can arise from planning and zoning regulations, Gray also has to focus on the big picture.
“I think the most important one is the challenge of how do we make this community or any community a quality place to live and work,” he said.
In Grand County, that’s led him to explore affordable housing options for both seasonal and permanent residents, as well as head a new initiative to explore a countywide transportation system.
Right now, Gray has a lot on his plate, but it doesn’t prevent him from getting out and enjoying all Grand County” has to offer.
Outside the office, Gray said he enjoys skiing as well as year-round trail running, no matter if the roads are “dry, wet or snow covered.”
He’s completed some impressive events, including the Pike’s Peak Ascent. His longest race was 50 kilometers.
“It’s just a little over the marathon distance,” Gray said, “but I think it’s far enough.
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