Board offers town manager position to former planning director

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

Elected officials are turning to a familiar face to fill Black Mountain’s town manager position, which was vacated in May.

The board voted 4-1 to extend a contract offer to Josh Harrold, who served as the town’s director of planning and development for three years, after a closed session meeting following its regular meeting on Sept. 10.

Josh Harrold, who left his position as the director of planning and development in Black Mountain in June of 2017, will be offered the position of town manager after a 4-1 vote by the board of aldermen on Sept. 10.

Harrold was hired as the director of planning and development in March of 2014. Before he took over the job the position had been empty for three years.

Prior to coming to Black Mountain he was the planning and zoning director for the Town of North Wilkesboro from 2008-2014.

Harrold, who holds a master’s degree from Appalachian State University and graduated from the UNC School of Government, left Black Mountain in June of 2017 for a similar position in Lewisville.

The search for a town manager began with the abrupt resignation of former town manager Matt Settlemyer following a budget meeting on May 21 that was continued to the following morning. Aldermen tapped Land of Sky Regional Council executive director Justin Hembree to step into the role while the board searched for someone who could fill the spot until a permanent replacement was found.

Former Buncombe County district attorney Ron Moore, who serves as the town attorney for Hot Springs, agreed to serve as the interim town manager.

Over 80 people applied for the town manager position when it was advertised, according to town officials.

Harrold’s familiarity with the town, staff and elected officials made him a good candidate for the position, said alderman Carlos Showers.

“He has a good vision for the town,” Showers said after the meeting. “I feel like he’s a great fit.”

Vice mayor Maggie Tuttle nodded in agreement with Showers.

Alderman Ryan Stone was the lone vote against extending the offer to Harrold. He didn’t sign the contract offer.

“I didn’t think he was the best person for the job out of the four finalists,” Stone said. “I don’t know if his resume would’ve warranted an interview if he hadn’t been a familiar name.”

Stone added that he's willing to work with Harrold and hopes he does a great job.

During his first stint with the town, Harrold worked diligently on updating the Land Use Code. He estimated he had proposed 40-50 amendments, aimed mostly at cleaning up inconsistent language, during his time with the town.

He also secured funding for the Upper Swannanoa River Watershed Restoration Plan, which included bank restoration along Tomahawk Branch.

Harold is a native of Wilkes County and played a role in creating and implementing a master plan for the downtown area in North Wilkesboro during his time there.

He was instrumental in having Black Mountain’s The Oaks trail designated as part of the Fonta Flora State Trail, which will one day connect Burke County to Asheville.