Phil Stenbeck is taking over as City of Prineville planning director after working for two years in county planning

In the search for the next City of Prineville planning director, it turned out the right person for the job was working across the street.

After advertising the vacant position and selecting four finalists, city staff chose Phil Stenbeck, the current assistant planning director for Crook County.

"I am very excited about the opportunity," Stenbeck said. "There are a lot of things the community has been working on over the past couple years, where I have been the counterpart on some of the projects. I see just a lot of strategic planning and future-oriented planning that I feel real excited about."

Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester said that Stenbeck rose to the top because of his experience in the community and in the region. Since 2011, Stenbeck has worked for Crook County and he served as the planning director for Jefferson County for about a year.

As the city planning director, Stenbeck will be responsible for the city's long-term strategy for transportation and infrastructure as well as build-out of its urban growth boundary.

"He will be involved in our business development opportunities and how we set up the city for infrastructure in terms of transportation, water, and sewer,” Forrester said.

Stenbeck brings nearly 20 years of planning experience to the position. Prior to working for Crook County, he served as a land-use planner in Douglas County.

“It is what I studied in school. I have a four-year degree in land-use planning,” he said. “The opportunity to help people achieve their goals with their land is just something I enjoy.”

Although Stenbeck will work in the same community, he anticipates his new job will differ in many ways from his work with the county.

“I’ll be working with a different planning commission. I’ll be working with the (Prineville) City Council, and their whole philosophy I will be trying to get a hold of and move forward,” said Stenbeck.

Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka hired Stenbeck two and a half years ago, and is sorry to see him leave their staff.

“I’m glad for him, sorry for us,” he said.

At the same time, he believes both planning staffs will benefit from the change.

“I think it is an opportunity for the city and county to get even closer together in terms of commonality because of his background here and the work that we have done for the city already jointly,” he said. “I think it is a positive benefit for the entire community.”

Although the city hired a county employee, Forrester noted said the process did not generate any controversy for either entity.

“We have a great amount of respect for our partners at the county and how closely the city and county work on a variety of opportunities,” he said. “We were in communication with the leadership at the county during this process and they were supportive as well.”

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