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City of Springfield planning director Susan Istenes resigns abruptly

 Springfield City Planning and Development Director Susan Istenes
City of Springfield
Springfield City Planning and Development Director Susan Istenes resigned on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, Ozarks Public Radio confirmed two days later.

Ozarks Public Radio confirmed that Springfield's planning director — on the job for just 15 months — resigned Tuesday, effective immediately.

The City of Springfield's department head for planning and development services, Susan Istenes, resigned abruptly this week.

The resignation took place Tuesday, one day after the most recent regular Springfield City Council meeting on Monday night.

Istenes' resignation was effective immediately, Springfield's chief city spokesperson, Cora Scott, told KSMU in a Thursday-afternoon text message.

Brendan Griesemer, assistant director of planning and development and a city employee since 1996, has been named interim director.

Istenes worked as planning and development director for the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Missouri for a number of years, beginning in 2010, according to her LinkedIn page.

She was on the job with the City of Springfield beginning Feb. 15, 2022, according to an official biography published on the city website.

At several council meetings since she joined the city staff, Istenes appeared to struggle to respond to detailed questions from Council members.

On Monday night, Councilman Craig Hosmer asked Istenes if she had read a bill he sponsored. The bill ultimately failed to pass through Council, but would have imposed a 210-day pause on development in the Sunshine Street and National Avenue corridors where the controversial University Heights rezoning saga has taken place since mid-August.

"Have you read it?" Hosmer asked Istenes.

"I did read it about a half-hour ago," Istenes replied. "I apologize again, I didn't realize my name was on this, so coming a little bit unprepared."

On Thursday afternoon Ozarks Public Radio attempted to reach Istenes through a phone number linked to her name in publicly available records, but the newsroom was not immediately successful.

Scott, the city spokesperson, did not respond to a request by Ozarks Public Radio for a copy of any resignation letter from Istenes. She did not respond to a question as to why Istenes resigned.

When asked if there was a reason the staffing change from Tuesday was not announced at that time, Scott said in a text message, "We typically send out news releases for retirements.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.