Up and comer
At age 30, Planning Director Christy Langley is making her mark within city hall and Noblesville
The youngest department director in the city’s history and the secret guiding Noblesville’s planning and development is beginning to gain notoriety throughout the state and by her peers across the nation. However, Planning Director Christy Langley isn’t focused on her success, just the next project to make Noblesville better.
“I’m excited. There are a lot of opportunities and I’m pumped about them,” she said.
Langley was recently named one of the 10 finalists for Indy’s Best and Brightest award in the government category by the Junior Achievement of Central Indiana. The selection criteria include demonstrating leadership qualities, achieving professional accomplishments, being actively involved in the community, and having a positive effect on others.
“I feel humbled. I have a great support staff. I love my team and I knew it was them (who nominated me),” Langley said. “We’ve always had a team approach – it was my birthday this time.”
December was also a big month for Langley. She was named the planning official development officer on the American Planning Association Indiana Executive Committee. Langley also learned she will be a presenter at the APA’s national conference in Chicago in April.
The Noblesville Common Council also recognized Langley as 2012’s Stake in the Ground honoree at its Dec. 18 meeting. The annual award recognizes a department head who has helped build a better Noblesville and provided exceptional service to the city.
“Christy has helped lead several important new initiatives since her appointment as planning director, including an audit of the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, digitalization of the planning department’s records and building permit processes, and initiating the process of updating the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan,” Council President Greg O’Connor said. “The council felt her efforts and accomplishments make her very deserving of this award.”
All of this in just a few months. Langley’s move last year came with big shoes to fill as she replaced Steve Huntley, who worked in the city’s planning department for almost 32 years, serving as director since 1980.
“I’ve been very happy with the work Christy has done since she took over as planning director,” Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said. “She has the vision and skills needed to take the department up to the next level and has wasted no time in jumping in and doing just that.”
In historical perspective, Langley said the planning department was created as a way to properly insure good development – zoning and density.
“Planning has evolved as much as development has,” she said.
Langley said six years ago the planning department was one of the busiest departments in the entire city as it processed 100 permits a month.
“We had 400 permits in 2011,” she said. “We see so many more citizens than other departments. Customer service is extremely important. We make an impression – how you are treated when you call and how they responded to you.”
But issuing permits is “reactive” in Langley’s mind and the department needs to be proactive as well.
“It should serve two purposes – current and long-range vision planning,” she said. “That’s what I hope to ramp up a little bit. What is our vision with the city? We need to adopt a vision to market strategies, trends and new innovative ways of development.”
Langley said her department plans to “continue the momentum” of building and connecting trails. The planning department is currently conducting an audit of the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, which was originally written in 1996, and is looking to update its comprehensive master plan.
“It guides all the development in the city. It sets sew areas for houses, individual parking, commercial centers,” Langley said. “It’s a year-long process – the master plan for the entire community.”
Before heading the planning department, Langley worked in the city’s economic development office as an assistant director for five years. Economic Development Director Judi Johnson said Langley helped make improvements downtown, assisted with the façade grant program and led beautification projects.
“Christy is on the cutting edge of what’s new,” Johnson said.
Langley sees her background in economic development as a huge benefit.
“Planning is integral in economic development. They are two separate organizations but the city can’t survive without either one – it’s a very symbiotic relationship,” she said. “Economic Development is all about creating opportunity. Planning is about realizing the opportunity … less reactive and more proactive.”
Meet Christy Langley
Hometown: Madison, Ind.
Education: Madison High School, bachelors in urban and regional planning at Ball State University, masters in public affairs and economic development from Indiana University-Bloomington. Langley is also an AICP certified planner and a graduate of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy.
Organizations involved with: American Planning Association, International Economic Development Council, Indiana Economic Development Association, Noblesville Youth Professionals Group and Noblesville Main Street.
Hobbies: Reading and spending time with husband and 2-year-old son. “I like to eat; so in order to eat, I run.”
Favorite activity in Noblesville: Taking son to Forest Park. “If he could, he’d live there.”
Quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
Online: To read about the Noblesville Planning Dept. goals in 2013, visit www.currentnoblesville.com.
The planning department is responsible for administering the policies, programs and regulations that manage the development of the Noblesville community. The department is tasked with ensuring the sound management of Noblesville’s growth, the protection of its quality of life, and its economic vitality through a variety of comprehensive planning measures.
The department also plays a central role in guiding the long-term development of the built and natural environment and is comprised of 12 staff members who monitor and update the city’s comprehensive master plan, ensure compliance of planning and zoning codes, draft land use policy, administer building codes and compliance, and guide and support the work of the Noblesville Planning Commission, Board of Zoning of Appeals, and Architectural Review Board.