By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – City of Tupelo Development Services director B.J. Teal confirmed today that she plans to leave her position with the city after next week, saying “differences of philosophy” with Mayor Jason Shelton was among her top reasons for leaving.
Teal arrived as a city employee during Mayor Ed Neelly’s administration in September 2008 under the role of special assistant to the mayor for planning development. She continued through Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s administration as director of development services and was appointed by Shelton to continue in the position.
Teal will no longer work in her position after next week and will officially leave the position on Nov. 18. She plans to relocate to Montgomery, Ala., where she and her husband grew up, married and still own a house.
Reached today, Teal said her recent surgery for a total knee replacement and recovery contributed to her decision to leave her job in Tupelo. However, she also attributed as a reason for leaving a difference of opinion between her and Shelton related to improving the city’s declining neighborhoods.
Specifically, Teal identified Shelton’s opposition to continuing neighborhood revitalization efforts similar to the current West Jackson Street redevelopment project.
In Sunday’s edition of the Daily Journal, Shelton said he opposed future projects that involved taxpayer funded neighborhood redevelopment projects that include buying city property.
“That was pretty discouraging,” she said. “We just have a lot of differences of philosophies.”
Hiring of Teal happened as the city struggled with challenges of affordable, desirable housing, an issue Tupelo has had limited success at addressing. During Reed’s administration, he pushed for the West Jackson Street redevelopment effort with mixed support from the City Council.
Shelton campaigned on campaign promises of less government and making City Hall friendlier, specifically naming the development services department.
In a news release distributed by the city’s communication director this afternoon, Shelton praised Teal’s work for the city of Tupelo.
“I truly appreciate Ms. Teal for her commitment to the City of Tupelo over the past five years,” Shelton said in the statement. “She is an incredibly valuable asset and I am especially grateful for her work on writing the new development code for the City of Tupelo.
“Her legacy will have a major impact for the future of this city.”
Teal said she will continue freelance work related to historic preservation and restoration design work.
Before working in Tupelo, Teal served as director of development services in Florence County, S.C. and Collierville, Tenn.
Read more in Friday’s edition of the Daily Journal.