News / Chad Sary’s Passion for Planning Leads to Long-Lasting Community Connections

October 9th / 2020


Chad Sary's Passion for Planning Leads to Long-Lasting Community Connections

Chad Sary, AICP, CZO, CFM, Practice Leader for Stewart’s Municipal Planning practice, has enjoyed a career in planning and local government for over 20 years, 15 of those years dedicated to serving the Town of Wake Forest, North Carolina.

After serving on Wake Forest’s planning board for a year, Chad decided to run for an elected position on the town council with the express belief he could serve the citizens and affect change more quickly.

Still eager to follow his passion for planning, Chad joined Stewart where he applies his experiences to help communities that don’t have the expertise to execute long-term development.

“When we begin a new project, we have a new client. When we complete the project, we have a friend.”

Comprehensive Planning Services for Smaller Communities

Planning on the local level is vital to the wellness, progress, and longevity of any town. Chad was instrumental in spearheading the municipal planning practice at Stewart. “We are a community-driven group. When we begin a new project, we have a new client. When we complete the project, we have a friend.”

The goal of Stewart’s Municipal Planning team is to provide comprehensive planning services for small- and mid-sized communities.

Municipal Planning focuses on these four key areas:

  1. Long-range, comprehensive planning. Visioning how the community should grow for the next 20 years falls under municipal planning. Specific services can include GIS mapping, downtowns that need attention, streetscapes, parking, and outdoor dining.
  2. Current planning. The planning team handles unified development ordinances and other ordinance rights. They also provide general planning services to smaller communities that might lack staff to handle the complexities that planning generates.
  3. Internal support service. The planning team assists other practice areas, such as landscape architecture and civil engineering, with processes involving entitlements, rezoning, applications for development, and code writing.
  4. “Out-of-the-box” services. The planning team performs meeting facilitation to help groups with strategic goals, training for citizen and planning boards, and grant writing.

Partnership with North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM)

As a preferred partner, Stewart works closely with the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM), an organization that advocates for services to local governments across the state of North Carolina, primarily for small- and mid-sized communities.

Community-driven Planning Forges Lasting Relationships

Stewart’s planning project in the Town of Lillington, North Carolina, began in 2016. Chad’s relationship with the town manager sparked the genesis of this project to bring a little downtown into the future.

Chad led the planning team’s efforts in writing Lillington’s first unified development ordinance in 2015, after which on-going on-call services continued. Their relationship then evolved into grant writing for a parks and recreation trust fund and a downtown master plan and bicycle plan.

What began as a connection with Lillington’s town manager progressed into a rapport with the elected officials and other staff members. “It’s not a relationship we at all take for granted,” Chad assures. “Lillington will always be a special place to me.”

THREAD-ing Through

The Municipal Planning team is intentional about incorporating Stewart’s THREAD principles throughout every aspect of the practice. Chad ensures that clients can expect the highest quality of service from the team, promoting mutual collaboration and servant leadership.

The planning team can be involved with a client for up to a year and a half. Chad observes, “So many times, we walk away with a really good relationship—built upon the THREAD values.”

Be sure to follow Stewart’s Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts this month as our planning practice describes how they apply each value to their work.

Chad’s On-going Passion

Chad believes that every town deserves the best plan, no matter the size. “There’s no reason a town or county with the population of 5,000 should have a lower-quality plan than a city of 100,000 people.” Above all else, his continuing quest to improve communities is all about service, civic duty, and giving back to the community. “I’m passionate about local government, and the ability local government has—more than any other level of government—to help its citizens.”

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