National Community Planning Month 2021

October is National Community Planning Month. This month recognizes City staff and community members who volunteer their time on boards and commissions to make Johnston a community so residents can Thrive. Every Day!

Throughout the year, the Johnston planning staff works to improve the well-being of all residents. Being inclusive leads to a safer, resilient, and more equitable community. During this month, we will be featuring one of the planning staff members each week. This will provide the residents an opportunity to get to know them and understand their role within the city. Below are the staff members from L to R: Kelsey Luczycki, Adam Plagge, David Wilwerding, Clayton Ender and Aaron Wolfe. 

10. Community Planning Month_Oct 2021 (Johnston logo_vertical)_staff

Get to know Adam Plagge, Economic Development Manager.
Adam has served the City of Johnston for nearly five years. Before joining Johnston, he served in other economic development capacities in Eastern Iowa.
 "One of my biggest accomplishments has been contributing to the Town Center coming to fruition," said Plagge. "A lot of time and effort went into the design, planning and construction. Watching residents and visitors enjoy the space during the events we have already had has been gratifying. It will certainly be an area families and friends can enjoy for many years to come."
 Adam has also been instrumental in extending Johnston's growth area to Highway 141 and Saylorville, also referred to as the NW Annexation. This area will offer single and multi-family housing.

While Adam is a part of the planning staff, his position works closely with many other departments in the City. He is most proud of helping bring Council's vision for Johnston's into a reality. He has invested a lot of time and meeting with key leaders in our community to ensure the vision stays on course.

Plagge_Adam Head shot

The pandemic has certainly created new challenges for economic development. It has shifted planning efforts towards repurposing and revitalizing office and retail spaces impacted by changes in the real estate industry. The rapid rise of 'work from home' has necessitated prioritization efforts to ensure high-speed internet connectivity in the community. Earlier this year, we worked, the City worked with HR Green to conduct a broadband study. This provided an overview of the speeds and areas we may need to enhance as a city.

As the community grows, the commercial property valuation is essential to lowering property taxes. This fall, two commercial buildings will begin construction on the corner of NW 62nd Avenue and Merle Hay Road. They will bring in additional restaurants and retail. During the recent community survey, residents expressed the need for these. "We do take residents' input seriously and we can't wait to announce the tenants," said Plagge. The Ignit facility, which will be located west of Pagliai's Pizza, will be a community gathering space, which has been needed for many years. "We are certainly excited for the visitor opportunities this will bring to Johnston," Plagge stated.

The Johnston Town Center and Ignit Public-Private Partnerships will create significant commercial property valuation, eventually leading to lower property taxes and help meet the community-identified need for community gathering spaces and additional restaurants and retail opportunities.

All about David Wilwerding, Community Development Director
October is National Community Planning Month. The planning staff within the City is small but mighty. We are excited to share a “Get to Know” planning staff member each week. 

David Wilwerding is the Community Development Director who has served the City over the past 19 years. During his time, he has seen a lot of growth and development. One of his biggest accomplishments is developing and implementing the City’s first Watershed Assessment and Stormwater Management Plan, including the creation of the Stormwater Utility. This plan ensures the City protects properties from flooding and improves the water quality throughout the community while having a dedicated funding source to address our stormwater infrastructure needs.

David Wilwerding_2021

During his 19 years, David has been instrumental in the planning stages of the Johnston Town Center. “Construction of the Johnston Town Center and City Hall will certainly have a positive impact on our community for decades to come,” David said. “We had talked about this area for many years, so seeing the vision come together is certainly exciting.”

As the City has grown, so had David’s staff. He is proud of his team of dedicated professionals that ensure Johnston continues to Thrive Every Day. His staff consists of one administrative assistant, two planners, one economic development manager, one building official, two building inspectors and one GIS coordinator. 

While his team has grown, the planning process has stayed relatively the same; however, advances in technology have made it so much easier to engage with and get feedback from the community through online engagement and social media. The pandemic certainly changed the need for in-person meetings. “The Thrive 2040 plan was completed with online meetings and public input,” said David. 

The Community Development team looks to the zoning ordinance to ensure submitted plans follow what Johnston expects. The current zoning code dates back to the early 1970s with only a few modifications. During this time, land use development, construction techniques and design standards have changed. All builders and developers that bring plans forward in Johnston are held to the same regulations. This ensures development remains consistent over the years.

The department is currently undergoing an ongoing effort to update and modernize the City’s Zoning Codes while ensuring a high quality of life our residents enjoy.

For more information on the Zoning code, visit