A city planner with experience in new urbanism and regulatory reform will take the helm of Development Services in Missoula next month amid a realignment of planning efforts between several key departments.

Josh Martin, who currently serves as director of planning, zoning and building in Palm Beach, Florida, will begin as director of Development Services in February.

“He worked for a legendary mayor named Joe Riley in Charleston, South Carolina, where he helped guide their planning and development efforts,” Mayor John Engen said. “Riley is largely credited with spreading the gospel of new urbanism among mayors, and Martin is a huge urban renewal guy.”

While new urbanism isn't new to Missoula, Engen believes Martin will help implement the philosophy on a wider scale as the city deals with growth. It includes building walkable neighborhoods based around transit-oriented development, including a range of housing and employment opportunities.

New urbanism also looks to limit sprawl by growing inward to retain open space, something the city is striving to achieve. It leans heavily on the redevelopment of underutilized urban parcels and looks to reduce the reliance on the automobile.

“During the interviews, (Martin) was constructively critical,” Engen said. “He looked at all our processes and I think he'll bring change around that. He's got a great resume, a lot of energy, and he's going to bring a ton of experience we need with regulation reform.”

While Martin steps into the director's job vacated last year by Mike Haynes, Engen said the city will promote Eran Pehan, who currently serves as the director of the Office of Housing and Community Development.

Engen created the office in 2017 to focus more sharply on the city's housing needs. Over the past two years, the office has unveiled a new housing policy and has worked closely with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency under the leadership of Ellen Buchanan.

With the promotion, Pehan will report to the mayor and Dale Bickel, the city's chief administrative office.

“She's likely to take on some new duties when (Martin) is on board,” Engen said. “Our goal here is to look at our organization between Development Services, Public Works and Housing and Community Development, and get better alignment.”

Engen said such realignment will have positive outcomes.

“It's not optimal now,” he said. “But those three folks working together with us will get us to a place where we're organized around our policies and be better able to implement.”

Martin earned an undergraduate degree in government from Wofford College and a master’s degree in city and regional planning at Clemson University. He also attended the City Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.

“He brings current technical expertise and best practices to the city of Missoula, along with a commitment to quality, public service and employee development and training,” Engen said.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at martin@missoulacurrent.com