Manassas has nabbed one of Prince William County's top planners.

On Friday, Manassas City Manager Lawrence D. Hughes announced the appointment of Elizabeth S. Via as the city's new director of community development.

Via, 40, works in the county's Office of Planning as division chief for development services, where she manages a staff of 22.

Via will return to Manassas, where she worked from 1990 to 1992 as a city planner, to manage the community development department's six-member staff. Via will earn $93,000 a year; she will start Feb. 24.

Because her new staff will be so much smaller, Via said, she is looking forward to the opportunity to do more than just manage.

"It's a nice opportunity to do hands-on planning," Via said. "I'm very familiar with the area. Before, I lived in Manassas, and it's grown considerably since then. There are a lot of retail [and] infill issues. It's a very exciting place to be going to."

Senior city planner Yvonne Powell Conatser said she is pleased that the position has been filled.

Seven months ago, Roger Snyder stepped down as community development director after serving nearly 10 years in the post. Snyder announced his resignation in December 2001, but the search to replace Snyder did not begin until October.

"In our searches for department heads, we've attracted some dynamite leaders," Hughes said.

Snyder added that he knows Via fairly well and that he believes she is particularly qualified for the position, because she has lived in the area and has a strong knowledge of the state's land-use laws.

"I look forward to being available to her, not to say where the bodies are buried, but to give her my knowledge of the various tracts of land in the city," Snyder said. "She's got a lot of moxie. . . . I'm sorry that the county is losing a good planner, but the city is gaining a great community development director."