Charlottesville appoints James Freas as director of neighborhood development

james freas
James Freas. Photo courtesy City of Charlottesville.

Charlottesville City Manager Chip Boyles announced this week the appointment of James Freas as director of neighborhood development services.

Freas, who brings 15 years of professional planning experience to the city, has served most recently as director of the Department of Community & Economic Development in the Town of Natick, Mass., since 2019.

Before that, he served in three roles in the City of Newton, Mass., during 2012-2019: chief planner for long range planning, and acting director and then deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development.

“James has over 15 years of experience in city planning in Massachusetts and Virginia, where he has built teams to lead collaborative planning and implementation work,” said Boyles. “I am particularly pleased that James has worked directly with municipal leadership and community members in Massachusetts to advance issues of racial equity in zoning and planning. That experience will be very important in Charlottesville.”

Freas holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia, a master of community planning from the University of Rhode Island, and a master of studies in environmental law from the Vermont Law School.

“I am excited to be returning to Virginia and eager to get started with the city,” said Freas. “There are a number of important conversations happening right now around development and zoning and I look forward to engaging with the community.”

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