Murfreesboro Announces Hiring of Planning Director and Planner in Planning Department

Mar 06, 2024 at 06:28 pm by WGNS News

(L to R): Ben Newman, Richard Donovan, Jr. and Brad Barbee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — New leadership announced for several position within the City of Murfreesboro's government offices. 






Director of Land Management and Planning Ben Newman

Ben Newman has been named the new Director of Land Management and Planning within the City of Murfreesboro Planning Department. Newman’s administration and government experience includes serving as General Manager of the Caney Fork Electric Cooperative (CFEC) in McMinnville, Tennessee, managing 80 employees for the utility with 35,000 customers. Newman’s first day for the City of Murfreesboro was Feb. 26, 2024.

Director of Land Management & Planning Greg McKnight

“We are very pleased to announce the hiring of Ben Newman as director of Land Management & Planning for the City of Murfreesboro,” said Development Services Executive Director Greg McKnight. “Ben has considerable experience in city planning and land use expertise that will help us guide economic development and growth of Murfreesboro going forward.”

Prior to General Manager for CFEC with $73 million in annual revenues and $145 million in total assets, Newman devoted public service as mayor, vice mayor and alderman for the City of McMinnville between 2012 and 2020. During this time, he worked concurrently in his full-time professional capacity as an attorney and partner with the law office of Galligan & Newman in McMinnville. Newman’s legal practice focused on public utility and land matters as well as contract litigation and workers’ compensation.

Newman earned a law degree from the University of Memphis in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He is a member of Rotary International and Friends of the Greenway and past board member of the McMinnville/Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Historic Zoning Commission.

Principal Planner Richard Donovan

Richard T. Donovan Jr. has also been hired, effective Feb. 26, as Principal Planner for the City of Murfreesboro. Donovan previously served as Senior Planner for Slaughter & Associates, PLLC in Oxford, Mississippi since 2021, where he also served as Planner/Project Manager from 2013-2015.

As a Senior Planner, Donovan served as a project manager and worked with clients to author comprehensive plans, planning studies, and ordinances to aid with the enforcement and implementation of planning studies. He conducted planning analyses and studies for municipal annexation and assisted with the correlation between comprehensive planning and annexation.

Prior to working as a Senior Planner for Slaughter & Associates, PLLC in Oxford, Donovan was Planning Director for the City of Lakeland, Tennessee and a City Planner for the City of Portland, Tennessee. He has worked in similar capacities for the City of Lebanon, Tennessee and Dothan, Alabama.

Donovan is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners and accredited with the Congress for New Urbanism. He is a member of the American Planning Association, Tennessee Chapter. Donovan earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Memphis in 2013, where he also received his undergraduate degree in geography in 2008 with a concentration in geographic techniques.

Principal Planner Bard Barbee

Meanwhile, City Planner Bard Barbee has been promoted to Principal Planner. Barbee has served as a Planner since November 2020 and has worked for the City of Murfreesboro since 2005. As Planner, Barbee reviews preliminary and final plats, site plans, and architectural elevations for compliance with the City’s Subdivision Regulations, Zoning Ordinance and Design Guidelines. Barbee’s previous City experience includes service in Urban Environmental as a Landscape Specialist/Inspector and as a Department Coordinator. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

Assistant City Manager for Engineering and Economic DevelopmentbSam Huddleston
Executive Director of Development Services Greg McKnight

These staff changes in the Development Services Division follow the appointment of Greg McKnight as Executive Director of Development Services in 2023 and Sam Huddleston as Assistant City Manager for Engineering and Economic Development.

Greg McKnight was appointed Executive Director of Development Services in Feb. 2023. McKnight had served as Murfreesboro Planning Director since 2020. As Executive Director of the Development Services Division, McKnight has responsibility for the Planning, Building and Codes, and Community Development departments. The Division also oversees floodplain management, the city development process, and aspects of Engineering and urban environmental.

In Jan. 2023, City Manager Craig Tindall appointed Sam Huddleston to serve as Assistant City Manager for Engineering and Economic Development in the City Manager’s Office. Huddleston had previously served as Executive Director for the Development Services Division since July 2018. By the way, Huddleston will be Friday morning's (3/8/2024) guest on the WGNS Action Line (8:10-9:00AM). 

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