Office of Planning & Development

Department Functions

Created by this joint ordinance-resolution as a City-County agency in 1977, the Office of Planning and Development (OPD) processes and analyzes applications for zoning changes, subdivision of property, certificates of appropriateness in the historic districts and other land development actions.  Click here to download the zoning code (the Unified Development Code) and applications to the Land Use Control Board, Board of Adjustment and Landmarks Commission and access the zoning atlas. Click here to view plans and annexation studies performed by OPD in the past.
Office of Comprehensive Planning and the Memphis 3.0 Plan
OPD seal FINAL.jpg

Planning Directors

The following list includes the heads of the Office of Planning and Development since its creation in 1977. From 1977 to 1986, OPD was a stand-alone division of Memphis and Shelby County governments. In 1984, with the passage of Joint Ordinance No. 3333, the City and County Building Departments were merged to create the Office of Construction Code Enforcement (OCCE) and in 1986, a new division, the Division of Planning and Development was created to house the departments of OCCE and OPD (view an organizational chart of the Division). As such, pre-1986 heads of OPD were known as "Directors" and post-1986 heads of OPD have been known as "Administrators," the term for heads of departments. During its entire history, the term "Planning Director" has been used for these individuals, regardless of whether they were directors or administrators.

Mike Ritz: 1977-1980
Phillip Whittenberg: 1980-1985
Cynthia Buchanan: 1992-1996
Terry Emerick: 1996-2005
Josh Whitehead: 2010-present

Directors of the Memphis and Shelby County Planning Commission(s)

The following list contains the Directors of the City, County and Joint Planning Commissions until the latter's absorption into OPD in 1977:

Robert S. ("R.S.") Fredericks: 1952-1955
Fred Davis: 1956-1961 (first director of the merged, Memphis and Shelby County Planning Commission)
Jerrold A. Moore: 1962-1967
John S. Griesbaum: 1969-1972
Robert Miller: 1973-1976

Secretaries of the Memphis and Shelby County Planning Commissions

Mr. R.S. Fredericks was the first individual listed as "Director" of the Planning Commissions. Before that, the equivalent position was "Secretary." The very first Secretary, C.C. Pashby, was the longtime City Clerk of Memphis.

Cyrus Clark ("C.C.") Pashby: 1921-1927
Lawrence P. Cockrill (as "Engineer-Secretary"): 1928-1948
W.M. Perkins (as "Engineer-Secretary"): 1948-1952