Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday unanimously appointed a new chair to run the Land Use and Planning Committee.

Council member Mike Nugent replaces Jordan Hess as the committee chair. Hess was appointed as the city's new mayor last week and is no longer a member of council.

“I think Mike is uniquely positioned to take over this committee,” said council member Amber Sherrill “He clearly understands the real estate market, as well as the challenges that homeowners and developers have in bringing different projects to fruition.”

Of all City Council committees, land use and planning is often the most contentious. Among other things, it considers zoning changes, development proposals, right-of-way requests and conditional uses.

In the coming months, it will also pick up Missoula's Code Reform Project and track updates to the Our Missoula Growth Policy.

“His experience will prove valuable in leading the Land Use and Planning Committee at a time when we have a housing crisis and are embarking on code reform,” Sherill added.

Nugent emerged as a runner up in the appointment of a new city mayor last week. He lost by a single vote and ended the debate by changing his vote to Hess, giving Hess the seven votes needed to secure the position.

Nugent's experience outside of council will prove valuable in guiding the committee over the years to come, council members said.

“He brings a land-use background in this, as well as his masters in public administration, and he shows up. I appreciate his work ethic,” said council member Gwen Jones.

Also this week, council members appointed Stacie Anderson to serve as City Council vice president – a position also held by Hess until his mayoral appointment.