Longtime Huntsville city planner, urban development director Dal - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Longtime Huntsville city planner, urban development director Dallas Fanning dies at 69

Dallas Fanning (Contributed photo) Dallas Fanning (Contributed photo)

A major influencer and a key behind-the-scenes force in the growth of the city of Huntsville in the last 40 years passed away late Monday afternoon.

Dallas Fanning, who served under four mayors beginning with Joe Davis all the way through Tommy Battle, died at Huntsville Hospital, according to his close friend, Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon. He was 69 years old.

"Look around Huntsville. Dallas had his footprints on so much of the development of this community, he will be missed,” McCutcheon said.

Fanning may be best remembered as a key architect in planning and executing the development of Cummings Research Park, the nation's second largest research park.

Fanning served in a very unique dual role, as Huntsville City Planner and Urban Development Director. He retired from official public service in 2010. He was also behind the city's push to annex land from the city of Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties contributing to the tremendous growth in the Huntsville.

Fanning was also a Vietnam veteran and brigadier general who earned three Bronze Service Stars, a Meritorious Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal and eventually earned the rank of brigadier general in the Alabama National Guard.

His funeral arrangements are pending.

Click here to read McCutcheon’s commendation by the state legislature when Dallas retired.

Battle released the following statement Monday night:

“It is with deep sadness that the City of Huntsville acknowledges the passing of one of our great leaders, Dallas W. Fanning. I had the honor of working with Dallas when he was as a city planner in the 1980s and then as the city’s director of urban development until he retired in January 2010. Dallas had the ability to look far ahead and realize hidden potential in our area. He was a visionary and his role as strategic architect for planning and development set the stage for many years of growth and success.

Dallas was also the unsung hero. He preferred to remain behind the scenes and let others take credit for the City’s accomplishments. We know, however, he was instrumental in expanding Cummings Research Park to the west. He advocated for annexation and infrastructure investment in new areas of the City that allowed for the development of Hampton Cove, the Zierdt and Martin Road area, the I-565 corridor and the U.S. Highway 72 retail corridor. Dallas was the first to bring Tax Increment Financing (TIF) tools to the City, which generated funding to pay for the new Lee High School, Huntsville High School and Providence School.

Dallas was instrumental in shaping Huntsville into one of the leading cities in the Southeastern United States. His legacy is all around us."

Visitation will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church. Services will follow the visitation at 3:30 p.m. with burial afterwards in Maple Hill Cemetery. Spry Funeral Home of Huntsville is handling the arrangements.

Click here for Fanning's obituary.

Below is the city of Huntsville's proclamation on Fanning's retirement in January 2010.

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