City Development Services Director Mark Bennett Resigning
Bennett Will Step Down From His Role February 10
Last updated 1/27/2023 at 9:52pm
Mark Bennett, the senior planner for the City of Lake Wales and department head of Development Services has announced his intention to leave his post effective in two weeks.
City Manager James Slaton said he was surprised at the decision Bennett revealed late Thursday afternoon. Bennett has led the department since August of 2020, shortly after Slaton assumed his own role.
In a statement sent in response to questions from LakeWalesNews.net, Slaton called Bennett "a dedicated public servant." He "served this community well during his time with us," Slaton said, adding "He will be missed and we all wish him well."
Slaton indicated that Senior Planner Autumn Cochella will serve as interim department head while the city conducts a search for a replacement for Bennett.
Bennett, a Lake Wales resident, had performed consulting work for previous city administrations before accepting a role leading planning for the City of Haines City. He had spoken to the News of his time while working there, and was proud of the changes he had accomplished, describing changes he had helped to implement to the standards required for new development there.
Bennett was unavailable for comment for this article, which may be updated in the near future.
The news came as a surprise to many who work within city hall, but more than one person mentioned the stress Bennett was managing as he dealt with a huge wave of development proposals that have reached the city during the last 24 months.
In a story published in the News a year ago this week, Bennett had happily shared new of the expansion of his staff at Development Services, a needed step to keep up with the mounting workload.
Slaton indicated that he would begin a wide search to find a qualified replacement for Bennett, calling this "an important time in Lake Wales' history." He said that he would hope to find a high-level planner qualified to lead the department though the implementation of the award-winning Lake Wales Connected plan, indicating that he would be seeking a person "who appreciates what a special and unique opportunity this is."