Arlington Names New Planning and Development Services Director, Assistant Director
By Susan Schrock
Posted on September 28, 2018, September 28, 2018

The City of Arlington on Friday announced a new director and assistant director to lead the Department of Planning and Development Services.

Gincy Thoppil, who began her career with the City more than 13 years ago, will become the Planning and Development Services Director effective October 8. Richard Gertson, who has served the past 14 years as the City of Mesquite's Director of Planning and Development Services, will join Arlington as the Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services.

Thoppil, who has been instrumental in raising the quality of public and private projects in Arlington and providing continuous customer service improvements at the City's One Start Development Center, has served as the department's Interim Director since October 2017. As director, Thoppil will oversee planning, land development and engineering, building permitting and inspections, and other key functions that support Arlington's mission to build vibrant neighborhoods and serve its residents, visitors, and businesses.

"Gincy is a talented planner and she is well-respected by her peers. Besides her knowledge of current planning and development trends, Gincy has embraced innovative initiatives and cutting-edge technology that allows us to better serve our customers," City Manager Trey Yelverton said.

Thoppil, recognized for her work by professional organizations such as the American Planning Association, holds a master's degree in Community Planning with Urban Design specialization from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor's degree in Architecture from the University of Mumbai, India. She worked with the City of Cincinnati and later with City of Denton for several years, before joining Arlington. In the last 13 years that she has been with the City of Arlington, she said she is grateful for the many leadership opportunities presented, which includes facilitating updates to residential and commercial design standards, guiding redevelopment strategies for the Entertainment District, and championing the creation of the Urban Design Center and One Start Development Center.

"With customer service as the focus, I am ready to lead ongoing changes, such as making our online permitting system much easier to use and embracing electronic plan review; but at the same time making myself and staff available to our customers for face-to-face interactions to assist them in achieving their goals," Thoppil said.

Gertson, who will begin his career with Arlington on Oct. 8, has more than 35 years of experience in public management and community development. As Mesquite's Planning and Development Services director, he oversaw planning and zoning, building inspections, environmental code, health and historic preservation.

"Richard brings a wealth of experience and a community-centered mindset that will be a positive addition to serving our customers," Yelverton said.

Gertson, recognized for his work by professional organizations such as the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association, holds a master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa, a Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law and a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M University. His accomplishments include developing a growth sector plan for 20 square miles of extraterritorial jurisdiction, creating design concepts for a $3 million sustainable development project and authoring numerous ordinances that address neighborhood integrity issues and promote revitalization.

"It's hard to imagine a more exciting community from a standpoint of urban planning. Arlington is so dynamic, so forward-thinking," Gertson said. "I'm a strong advocate for aesthetics and quality of the built environment, and I believe Arlington has similar expectations."

Planning and Development Services oversees zoning, platting, permitting, and construction of development projects and natural gas wells within the City of Arlington. This team also oversees health permits and inspections for businesses such as restaurants and childcare facilities. During Fiscal Year 2018, Planning and Development Services has issued approximately 24,000 permits and conducted 48,000 inspections.

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