Planning official looks back as he prepares to leave the post

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Shreveport-Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission is losing its executive director.

Mark Sweeney gave notice of his resignation Monday in order to take a job in Oklahoma.

His contract was in the process of being renegotiated.

As Sweeney prepares to leave the MPC, he defends the the work he's done over the past four years.

"We changed the organization. We changed the process. We changed everything."

In addition to overseeing adoption of the new Unified Development Code,  Sweeney said he actually sped up the approval process for projects and shortened the MPC meeting structure, just to name a few things.

But Sweeney and his department have been the subject of a lot of criticism over the past year or so.

Local developers and elected leaders have called the project approval process too slow and have said that the MPC is not business-friendly.

"Criticism of 'You did this or did that.' But if you really look across the broad spectrum of the things we did, we've actually made improvements in every component of the development review process."

Sweeney said his resignation has more to do with the great opportunity before him.

But he admits the constant criticism hasn't been easy.

"They may feel they've been successful, or they've won, but that's not really the case," Sweeney said.

"I feel like I've won because I've invested time and energy in this community for almost four years and made a difference. And now I get the chance to go on to something that is a step up for me and my career."

Sweeney thinks the biggest challenge his successor will face is funding, which is split between the parish and city.

During a Monday work session, the Caddo Commission sent back to committee a proposal to cut funding to the MPC.

The Shreveport City Council is debating whether to break away from the MPC.

Sweeney believes he's leaving the next person in a good place.

"Whoever comes next will have a foundation that is established and one in which they can build on that foundation and do other great things.

"And that's the legacy I leave behind."

Sweeney will remain as executive director until Aug. 15.

The MPC board will appoint a new director since the commission acts separately from the parish and the city.

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