Sussex County names Whitehouse new planning and zoning director

GEORGETOWN — As a planning professional in England, Jamie Whitehouse knew he wanted to further his career in the United States.

Now, Sussex County government is giving Mr. Whitehouse the chance to realize his American dream on the other side of the pond.

Sussex County Council on Tuesday named Jamie S. Whitehouse as Sussex County’s new Planning & Zoning director. Mr. Whitehouse takes the reins from former director Janelle M. Cornwell, who resigned in January to take a planning position with the city of Lewes after three years as county planning director.

Jamie Whitehouse

Mr. Whitehouse had been serving as acting director during the county’s search following Ms. Cornwell’s departure.

“This has been my long-range goal since childhood, being able to give back to the community at a level such as this, and I’m so honored and privileged to be afforded this chance by the county council,” Mr. Whitehouse said. “Delaware has been so welcoming to me and my family, and I look forward to being able to reciprocate that hospitality in my new role as Sussex County’s Planning & Zoning director.”

In his new position, Mr. Whitehouse will oversee a staff of nearly a dozen employees in one of the county’s highest-profile departments. Planning & Zoning, among other duties, oversees land use in unincorporated parts of Sussex County, and supports the County Council, Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment as development applications work through the rezoning, subdivision, conditional use and variance processes.

Among his highest priorities in the coming months, Mr. Whitehouse pointed toward drafting and implementing ordinances to enhance Sussex County’s land-use code and support the recently adopted comprehensive plan, strengthening the office’s use of geographic information systems (GIS) to provide more detailed information to the public on land use, and helping the public be better engaged in the planning application process.

County council’s approval vote was 5-0. Mr. Whitehouse was among several qualified candidates interviewed for the position.

“Mr. Whitehouse was very impressive during his interview process,” said Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson. “I think we were all impressed by his responses, his experience and his vision.”

“We’re very excited now to have a director lead us in a very, very busy department within the county,” said Mr, Lawson.

A native of Walsall, United Kingdom, Mr. Whitehouse moved to the United States with his wife and children in 2016 to be closer to her family, and to help him realize a boyhood dream of one day living in America.

A career planner the past 16 years, Mr. Whitehouse has worked in both the public and private sectors on two continents, holding professional accreditations with both the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

He holds an undergraduate law degree from Coventry University in Coventry, England, and a master’s degree in spatial planning from Birmingham City University in Birmingham, England.

Mr. Whitehouse joined Sussex County in 2017 as a staff planner and most recently served as planning and zoning manager.

Before his tenure with the county, Mr. Whitehouse worked for the Delaware Department of Transportation as an engineering planning surveying technician.

Prior to that, while in his native England, Mr. Whitehouse worked for Birmingham City Council as a senior planner, and helmed his own consulting company, which provided land-use services to local communities similar to Sussex County. In addition to land-use planning, Mr. Whitehouse prides himself on his experience in urban and rural design, community engagement and problem-solving.

Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent praised Mr. Whitehouse for his knowledge of planning issues in Sussex County, and his experience working on both sides of the Atlantic.

“His credentials are very impressive, he’s very knowledgeable, and he has a firm grasp on the challenges and complexities facing Sussex County in the years ahead,” Mr. Vincent said. “I look forward to working with Jamie. I am confident that this is a good move for him and another great step forward for Sussex County.””