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Iowan expected to be appointed planning director


The Carroll County commissioners are expected to announce this morning that the new planning director will be a man who has held a similar position in an eastern Iowa county for 16 years.

According to the county administrator in Scott County, Iowa, his planning director, Phil Rovang, is to take the position vacated in July by longtime Carroll planning director Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman, who retired after almost 25 years in the job.

"The experience we will lose by his leaving will be tremendous, but I am happy for him," Scott County Administrator F. Glen Erickson said last night from his home in Davenport, Iowa. Mr. Erickson said Mr. Rovang's last work day in Scott County will be Oct. 13.

Yesterday, Carroll Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates declined to identify their choice for planning director. They both said they would have nothing to say until this morning's weekly news conference.

Mr. Rovang's first day of work in Carroll County was not known last night. Mr. Rovang, reached at his home in Davenport, would neither confirm nor deny his appointment as Carroll's planning director.

His salary in Carroll also was not available last night, but county officials who asked not to be named said it would be equal to or greater than Mr. Cueman's $69,200 a year.

Mr. Rovang, who has overseen residential and industrial growth in the largest county in the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois since 1979, is a quiet consensus-builder, one of his colleagues said.

"I hate to see him go," said Dick Kvach of Bettendorf, Iowa's community development director. Mr. Kvach said Mr. Rovang worked closely with Scott County's 12 municipalities in guiding growth.

Mr. Rovang leaves a metropolitan area of about 350,000 in Illionis and Iowa straddling the Mississippi. Davenport, Scott County's largest city, has about 100,000 people; the county, 130,000.

Although not chiefly suburban in character, Scott County has felt the pressures of a declining industrial base and an intrusion of residential growth into formerly agricultural areas, said Clayton Lloyd, director of community and economic development in Davenport.

Mr. Lloyd said Mr. Rovang successfully pushed new development toward the county's cities, a strategy that has met with mixed results in Carroll County, but has worked well in Scott County.

"We were once known as the 'Farm Implement Capital of the World,' " Mr. Lloyd said. That changed in the late 1980s, when companies such as International Harvester, Caterpillar and John Deere and Co. downsized.

The 2.5-million-square-foot Caterpillar plant, abandoned by the company several years ago, is to be bought today by an investment group that wants to subdivide it for use by light industrial companies, Mr. Lloyd said.

By contrast, Carroll County is feeling immense pressure as residents of Baltimore and its close, older suburbs flee to what was, until about 15 years ago, a mostly rural county.

Mr. Rovang was one of at least four finalists to have been interviewed for the job, according to sources familiar with the search. Three Carroll County employees -- Acting Planning Director K. Marlene Conaway, Transportation Planner Steve Horn and Development Review Bureau Chief G. Franklin Schaeffer -- also applied for the job. They were reportedly notified of Mr. Rovang's hiring at a meeting with the commissioners yesterday afternoon.

Ms. Conaway, long considered likely to inherit Mr. Cueman's job, said yesterday that she was disappointed and did not know what her next career move would be.

"It's too early to think about that now," Ms. Conaway said.

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