New Benton County planning director named
BENTONVILLE — Madison Kienzle has been named Benton County planning director, County Judge Barry Moehring said.
Kienzle had been interim director after Director Taylor Reamer left to take a job with Walmart in July. Moehring promoted Reamer to director in May 2018. Reamer had been with the county for more than eight years.
Kienzle was the senior planner before moving into the interim role.
Moehring announced Kienzle’s promotion at the Benton County Quorum Court Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, where he asked justices of the peace to consider a 15% raise for Kienzle to bring her pay in line with other area planners.
The request was passed on to the Quorum Court for final approval. The Quorum Court meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Her salary is $58,293 as senior planner, according to the county.
“She’s highly qualified, and she learned from Taylor. I think she will do great,” Moehring said.
The Benton County Planning Department is responsible for commercial and industrial site plan review, subdivision review, special developments review, stormwater management and floodplain management of unincorporated land in the county, according to its website.
In Arkansas, cities have the opportunity to plan one to two miles outside their municipal limits depending on population size, Kienzle said. Every municipality in Benton County, except Sulphur Springs, elects by ordinance to review tract splits and subdivisions in these zones. A few municipalities elect by ordinance to review commercial development as well, including Siloam Springs and Bella Vista. As a result, the cities are engaging in a lot of planning activities in these extra-territorial jurisdictions with the understanding the areas may be annexed one day.
“In my view, the challenge of this arrangement is that county residents are subject to a higher standard of review as determined by the city, though they may or may not receive city services,” she said. “While this approach is pragmatic in terms of growth, there may be additional costs to residents and developers who engage in these activities.”
The unincorporated part of Benton County doesn’t have zoning like cities such as Bentonville and Rogers. That creates a unique balancing act, Kienzle said. The county planning office is seeing a mix of large-scale developments that range from 10- to 20-lot subdivisions to plans for a truck service station, self-storage units and recreational vehicle parks, she said.
“You want to support development and also protect the people who live there,” she said.
Kienzle, 27, is a native of Joplin, Mo., where she attended Missouri Southern State University and received a degree in political science. She graduated in May 2020 with a master’s degree in public administration and nonprofit studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
She joined the county planning office in February 2020 as a county planner and was promoted to senior planner last spring.
“Having served on the Planning Board for almost three years with Madison, I am confident in her abilities and commitment to work closely with Benton County residents and staff,” Planning Board member Bethany Rosenbaum said. “She communicates well, listens and finds innovative solutions to promote healthy growth.”