Community Development Director – La Plata County, CO

The Position

La Plata County seeks a visionary and strategic thinker with outstanding communication and customer service skills to lead the Community Development Department. Reporting directly to the County Manager, the Community Development Director will lead a staff of 23 full-time employees within the Planning and Building Departments, providing services to ensure the orderly and safe growth of the built environment within unincorporated La Plata County. Services include current and long-range planning, building permitting and inspections, and code compliance and enforcement. The Community Development Director serves as an ambassador for the organization, building relationships and interacting with fellow staff, County residents, businesses, developers, community groups, the Board of County Commissioners, and the Planning Commission. The Director is responsible for recommending the resources necessary to implement the County’s community development programs and to educate the community on their purpose and intent.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of positive community relations and be an innovative leader with the ability to collaborate and creatively find solutions to address organizational and community challenges. They will have strength and experience with nurturing a professional staff that promotes positivity, performance excellence, and processes that effectively implement adopted plans, policies, and regulations. They should have practical experience with preparing and implementing an annual budget, strong leadership skills, and be effective at interpreting and updating comprehensive plans, land use codes, and building regulations. The Director must have an ability to effectively communicate with a diverse population, including generational homestead ranchers and farmers, long-time suburban residents, and recent in-migrant remote workers; a wide variety of consultants/contractors such as architects, engineers, builders, and oil and gas industry representatives; and non-profits, civic organizations, and elected and appointed officials.


  • Develop and enhance positive working relationships with the County Manager, Board of County Commissioners, Planning Commission, and community members at large.
  • Strengthen inter-departmental relationships.
  • Enhance an employee culture of performance excellence and well-being.
  • Identify and implement process improvement and resource allocation strategies leading to reduced project review and approval timelines.
  • Re-establish the long-range planning and special projects programs to ensure County planning documents, policies, and activities are current and consistent with the County Strategic Plan.
  • Review and improve employee recruitment and retention policies leading to employee longevity and career advancement within the department.


Minimum requirements include any combination of education and experience equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in public administration, planning, or a related field from an accredited college or university. At least seven years of municipal administrative experience in community development with at least three years of supervisory experience or a combination of education, training, and experience that would be equivalent is also required.

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree and American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) membership. Working knowledge and/or certifications in building permitting and code compliance are highly desirable.

Inside the Organization

La Plata County is a statutory subdivision of the state that operates under the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)-manager form of government, wherein the County Manager and Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) serve as the legislative body. The BOCC consists of three elected officials, each representing a geographic district, but all of whom are elected at large. As the governing body of the County, the BOCC performs legislative, budgetary, and policy-making functions, administers the La Plata County Land Use System, and advocates for citizens at all levels of government. Equally important, the BOCC establishes the vision and sets the direction for the County government to plan for the future challenges that will face the community. The BOCC appoints the County Attorney, who serves as legal counsel and advisor to the BOCC. The BOCC also appoints the County Manager, who performs executive functions including appointing and supervising department heads and hiring staff, coordinating, and administering County programs, developing and maintaining intergovernmental relationships, drafting budgets, and advising the Board on policy matters.

La Plata County employs currently 439 FTEs, and the County’s FY 2023 total adopted expenditure budget is $69,665,813.

Community Challenges

Like so many other amenity-rich areas of Colorado, La Plata County is also faced with a number of growth-related challenges, including a rising cost of living and declining housing availability and affordability. Second homeownership, short-term rentals, and new residents continue to strain the community. Workforce recruitment and retention suffer as a result. The BOCC, through their strategic planning initiatives and local partnerships, supports a balanced, healthy, and economically diverse community. The Director will be instrumental in assisting appointed and elected officials in establishing effective policies to implement this community vision.

The Community

La Plata County, home to nearly 57,000 permanent residents, is located in southwest Colorado, approximately three hours north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. While remote – the nearest interstate is about three hours away – the County is served by two major U.S. highways and is home to Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO). The primary regional airport for southwest Colorado, northwest New Mexico, and the entire Four Corners Region, DRO welcomed over 367,000 passengers in 2022. It is served by two major U.S. airlines (American and United), offering year-round daily nonstop flights to Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Phoenix. The airport, co-owned by La Plata County and the City of Durango, is currently embarking on a major expansion that will provide ample facility capacity for the growing area’s needs for decades to come.

La Plata County is an adventurer’s playground characterized by a diverse geography of mountains, forests, and high desert landscapes. The Animas River, offering world-class fishing and whitewater recreational activities, passes directly through La Plata County and the City of Durango from north to south, annually creating a verdant growing season in the north Animas Valley as the abundant winter snowpack melts off each spring. The San Juan National Forest stretches across much of the northern part of the County, offering extensive high-country outdoor recreational opportunities. The County has four major ski areas (Silverton Mountain, Purgatory Resort, Wolf Creek, and Telluride) within a two-hour drive and is home to many hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and backcountry trails. This expansive trail system rings Durango, the County seat, where one will find an authentic 1800’s era downtown teaming with shops and restaurants to meet nearly everyone’s particular interests. The high deserts of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, with their vast canyon lands, sweeping vistas, and wide-open spaces are an easy drive for those looking to get away for the weekend. With this abundance of natural beauty and outdoor opportunities so close at hand, the County is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, world-class athletes, retirees, second homeowners, and others wanting to embrace a relaxed yet adventurous lifestyle.

The County is a growing and progressive-focused community with the drive to embrace change to better all community members. Robust County programs and events allow ample opportunity for residents and visitors alike to get involved in and represent La Plata County.

Our Vision:

  • Together, we will create a county that is healthy, safe, and economically viable for present and future generations and one that honors everyone no matter their race, religion, or socioeconomic status.
  • We will work to attain the highest level of trust, satisfaction, and confidence of County residents, customers, and employees.
  • La Plata County will be the premier employer in the region operating with excellent efficiency and effectiveness.

Our Mission:

La Plata County, located in southwest Colorado, is a subdivision of the State of Colorado. We provide programs and services that create and foster positive results and health, safety, and welfare for all County residents. We do this through wise stewardship of public resources, by building effective partnerships, through ensuring a balanced budget and fair taxation system and encouraging active citizen engagement.

Quick Facts

  • Population (2021): 56,250
  • Median Household Income (in 2021 dollars): $75,089
  • Median Home Value: $430,200
  • Median Age: 40.8 years

All demographic information was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Compensation and Benefits

The expected hiring range is $106,000 – $133,000, depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefits package.

Benefits offered include the following:

  • Medical, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance
  • Participation in and County Match of Colorado Retirement Association Retirement Program
  • 38+ Paid Vacation/Holiday Days
  • 13+ Paid Sick Days
  • 12 weeks of Paid Parental Leave
  • Flexible Spending/Health Savings Accounts
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Voluntary and Special Fitness Wellness Incentives
  • Pet Insurance

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by Raftelis. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. The position will be open until filled with a first review of applications beginning April 17, 2023.


Please direct questions to Pamela Wideman at and Alexa Worrell at

To apply for this job please visit