Ty Harris, center, resigned from his position as director of planning for the village on July 19. Hank Flores, right, has been named acting planning director. Craig Southern, left, is a former senior planner who now works in Palmetto Bay. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

Islamorada’s planning department is seeking a new director following the recent resignation of Ty Harris.

Having served as the head of planning since fall September 2018, Harris’ resignation on July 18 comes just less than 20 days into Greg Oravec’s time as new village manager. 

In the short time I worked with Ty, I found him to be very intelligent and customer-oriented,” Oravec said in a statement to the Keys Weekly on July 21. “We appreciate his service to the village and our citizens and wish him the best moving forward.”

Senior planner Hank Flores has stepped in as acting planning director as the village seeks a replacement for Harris. Human Resources Director Evie Engelmeyer will lead the recruitment effort for a new planning director. 

Harris oversaw a planning department that administers the village’s land use plan and assists in permitting. He dealt with everything from affordable housing and developing a plan for food trucks to the village’s comprehensive plan and land use regulations.  

Bacheler said the loss of Harris “will have an effect on us.” Mayor Buddy Pinder said that Harris is “a special guy.” 

Harris, a DeLand native who studied law at the University of Miami, entered the planning department in 2018 with senior planners Craig Southern and Flores. Southern left the village planning department in June to take a new position as planner with the village of Palmetto Bay. 

With Flores as acting director, the department consists of a senior administrative assistant, a planner, an environmental planner and a planning coordinator. 

Oravec, who was picked by the council in June, has planning experience, having served as acting planning and zoning director in South Miami from 1996 to 1999. He also served as an assistant planner in Islamorada in 1999 before taking an assistant city manager job in South Miami. 

With moving forward in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you and the public at-large that the next planning director, and, for that matter, all our employees, should be counted on to be customer-oriented and to live by the Golden Rule and the values of excellence, integrity, transparency and accountability,” Oravec said. 

A regularly scheduled meeting of Islamorada Village Council is set for Thursday, July 22 at 5:30 p.m. inside Founders Park Community Center. 

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.