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Zimmerman to lead Building & Safety for now

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A longtime Building and Safety employee has been tapped to lead the department for now -- and possibly permanently -- when the current head begins a new job in October.

Building and Safety Director Fred Hoke was appointed by the mayor to head up the planned Development Services Center at city hall -- slated to open in March.

Chuck Zimmerman, manager of building services for Building and Safety, will assume Hoke's job and serve as interim director.

The mayor said there are no plans to create a new full-time employee in the process. So does that mean Zimmerman is effectively the permanent director?

"We'll see how things go," Mayor Chris Beutler said Friday during a press conference.

Hoke will have "full operational authority over the DSC," Beutler said, and in some cases could have veto power over other department heads.

Beutler is now full-steam ahead on creating one of his pet projects: a one-stop shop for reviewing, planning, permitting and inspecting development projects.

Rather than developers having to go to departments scattered all over city hall and the city, the development center will consolidate portions of several departments onto the second floor of city hall.

"We're moving from isolation to a culture of collaboration," Hoke said.

Hoke said he will bring a "Let's get to yes" approach to the development center.

While the center is being built, Hoke said he plans to meet with top clients of the center.

He has only been head of Building and Safety since December. Prior to that he was government affairs director for the Home Builders Association of Lincoln.

Zimmerman has worked in Building & Safety since 1992, and prior to that worked for the State Fire Marshal's office for 14 years.

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During a noon luncheon, Mayor Chris Beutler told the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce he will appoint Building & Safety chief Fred Hoke to the position. Hoke will report directly to the mayor.

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