By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet has a new city planning director, and she’s no stranger to the city.

Jennifer Stewart has been with the city for 18 years for which 16 were in the planning department, according to City Manager Kenny Martin.

“Her first two years were with the Mt. Juliet police communications center, and Ms. Stewart was serving as the lead dispatcher for our police department the day Sgt. Jerry Mundy and Deputy John Musice were killed.”

Martin said Stewart most recently served as interim planning director.

“She is most talented and bright and has overseen and supervised the planning department on many previous occasions for many months at a time and up until just [last week] was serving as the interim planner in addition to her deputy planner and zoning administrator roles,” Martin said. “She was basically wearing three hats. Unlike past city planners, Ms. Stewart will be the first city planner to also serve as the zoning administrator in addition to her city planner role.

“Initially Ms. Stewart did not desire the planner role, but after much support, thought and prayer with family and friends, she decided to make her wishes known. Quite honestly I could not be more happy and excited. I/we are so very proud or happy for Ms. Stewart. She was born and raised in Mt. Juliet and loves everything about our great city.”

Stewart said, “My reluctance stemmed from several items, one being the fact that I actually enjoyed my previous position. Also, I consider myself a worker bee and prefer to work more behind the scenes. Lastly, this position is a huge responsibility, and I feared it will take away from family time. I will be required to attend more nightly meetings, so I wanted to be on the same page with them and secure their support.

Stewart said she has “love for this city. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have so much pride in this town, and I am a homegrown Mt. Juliet girl through and through. I have lived here my entire life, and I have seen many changes. I have seen Mt. Juliet Road go from two lanes to five, and seen Providence go from a field of trees to what it is today, I have seen new schools built to accommodate our growth, our police department go from a handful of officers to the force we have today, and we even have our own fire department.”
She said while she has “acted as interim planner on several occasions throughout my time at the city and through the personal growth, those opportunities have provided and the confidence that our city manager, board of commissioners and planning commission have in me, I thought now was a great time to advance my career here at the city.”

Stewart said the “planner for such a fast-growing community is a huge responsibility, and I am so excited to serve my community in this capacity.  My goal is to make our city better today than yesterday. Growth isn’t often appreciated in small towns. I still consider Mt. Juliet a small town, but it’s here, and I have full confidence in the development team we have forged with public works, engineering, building codes and others to ensure that development is done so in a manner which is top notch. Maintaining that level of service to our community is a top priority.

“Another priority top on my list is development along our newly opened Golden Bear Gateway. It isn’t often you get to start with a clean slate. That is a sensitive, yet critical, area of town, and my goal is to ensure any development that might occur in that area is done so in a positive manner.”

Martin said, “She is a true success story on how hard work, diligence, integrity and learning every nuance for every position she has served with the city from top to bottom can make dreams come true. As a result, she has achieved so much during her many years of dedicated service with the city.”

Stewart replaces Donald Anthony, who was with the city for two weeks before he decided “he was not the right fit,” Martin said.