Cohen out as Key West planning director

Thaddeus Cohen is out as Key West’s city planner and City Manager Jim Scholl says “I think it’ll be a real challenge” filling the slot by March 31, Cohen’s last official day.

But he also says residents with business with the Planning Department will see better customer service in the future. Cohen didn’t provide that customer service, Scholl said.

“It was time for a resignation and that’s where we are. He is a great guy and intelligent planner, but him being the coach and staff being the team, things weren’t getting done,” he said. “We gotta be able to handle the day-to-day issues.”

Cohen was hired March 30, 2015, and earns $128,000 annually. He used to be secretary of the state Department of Community Affairs (now the Department of Economic Opportunity).

“He and I had a discussion,” Scholl said. “We’ve agreed he is finished with employment on March 31.”

“Some of the [lack of] meeting preparation, some of the high turnover didn’t help. We weren’t firing on all cylinders. This was nothing deliberate. We weren’t meeting the expectations of the community. It’s simply business and professional.”

“The development plans, we’re getting action on,” he said. Problem areas were “the lawful [housing] unit determination list. Working on [the building permit allocation system], just some of the administrative process that continues to occur and recur weren’t getting the management attention they need.”

Senior planner Patrick Wright has been named interim department director. Cohen will be available for consultation through the end of the month, Scholl said.

The city is advertising the job with the American Institute of Planning Professionals and others. Scholl, a former commander of Naval Air Station Key West, is also looking at the military as a possible option.

“One of the resources available is military spouses. You just never know with the turnover, spouses might have credentials,” he said.

Larry Kahn: 305-440-3218