December 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Philippines: Planning: Greensboro News Record: Philippines RPCV Greg Niles is new Planning chief for Guilford County

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: December 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Philippines: Planning: Greensboro News Record: Philippines RPCV Greg Niles is new Planning chief for Guilford County

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Philippines RPCV Greg Niles is new Planning chief for Guilford County

Philippines RPCV Greg Niles is new Planning chief for Guilford County

Philippines RPCV Greg Niles is new Planning chief for Guilford County

Planning chief starts in January


By Mark Binker Staff Writer
News & Record

Greg Niles must be looking for a challenge.

Why else would he leave Marco Island, Fla. a sunny, affluent, 14-square-mile residential haven on the Gulf of Mexico to take a job as Guilford County's new planning director?

"We've always wanted to get back into the Carolinas and (we've) been waiting for the opportunity to come forward," said Niles, 41, referring to himself and his wife. "I'm intrigued by the rural and urban aspects of Guilford County."

A professional challenge and ...

"My wife's a big MerleFest fan and she's excited about going again next year," Niles said with a laugh, referring to the music festival held in Wilkesboro each year.

Kidding aside, Niles seems an affable fellow who answers questions over the phone with short, direct sentences.

He replaces Mark Kirstner, who will move to a position in the newly created community and economic development department, which split from the planning department earlier this year.

Along with his wife, Claire, his three sons will be making the move with Niles, who is scheduled to start working for the county at the end of January.

Niles earned a bachelor's degree in history from Washington & Lee University in Virginia and a master's degree in city and regional planning from UNC-Chapel Hill.

He also spent about three years in the Peace Corps as a water and sanitation volunteer in the Philippines.

"It was one of the best things I've ever done," Niles said. "It was challenging. You are on your own a lot. You learn to rely on yourself a lot.

"Everyone was very gracious. Extremely poor, but they were always willing to share what they had," Niles said.

And that's where he met his wife, who was a Peace Corps education volunteer.

Before working in Florida, Niles was a planner in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Over the past six years as Marco Island's planning director, he has watched a building boom that has boosted property values and transformed the island from an unincorporated winter destination to a tony municipality facing new problems.

"The modest homes that were here initially are being replaced quite rapidly with extremely large homes," Niles said. "It's truly become a very affluent area and that's going to be one of the challenges: how people can afford to live on the island."

Niles worries, for example, that whoever the city hires to replace him won't be able to find a house on the island.

In both North Myrtle Beach and Marco Island, Niles helped to craft comprehensive plans to govern growth. When he arrives in January, he will take charge of Guilford County's first-ever comprehensive growth guide.

County Manager Willie Best said he was impressed with Niles' "personality and openness."

"This guy is really in tune to the public and will help them get through the (planning) processes," Best said.

Best said he placed an emphasis on finding someone who would could help the department become even more customer friendly.

Marlene Sanford, who heads the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, endorsed the choice.

Niles has several building inspection certifications as well as being a planner, something that Sanford said was a particularly attractive point.

Niles will be paid $90,000 a year.

Contact Mark Binker at 373-7023 or

K. Greg Niles
Age: 41
Current job: Community development director, Marco Island, Fla.
New Job: Guilford County planning director
Family: Wife, Claire, three sons.
Degree: M.A., city and regional planning, UNC-Chapel Hill

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Greensboro News Record

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Planning



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