The City of White Salmon hired a full-time land use planner — the first position of its kind within city ranks. The creation and filling of the position fulfills a key goal for the administration.

Brendan Conboy will report for duty and begin working with the city as the first city-hired land use planner later this month, according to city documents.

Conboy’s last position was with the Park City Municipal Corporation as a senior planning in Park City, Utah, according to his resume, and received his Master’s of Regional Planning degree from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in 2015.

As a land use planner for the City of White Salmon, Conboy will be tasked with processing development applications, preparing studies and reports, and reviewing and implementing zoning regulations, land use, environmental, natural resources, transportation, and public facility elements.

According to the job description, the position may have final authority on certain land use decisions, including short subdivisions, shoreline permits or exemptions and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) decisions. The land use planner will also be responsible for applying thorough and full-scope knowledge of modern techniques and concepts of planning.

The addition of a land use planner to city ranks was the “most significant” goal assigned to city staff in White Salmon Mayor Marla Keethler’s budget message.

“It is my fervent belief that intentional planning is what will set White Salmon on the right course to achieve long-term resiliency as a small-town that is affordable for residents, appealing to tourists, welcoming of entrepreneurs, and supportive of right-sized economic development,” Keethler wrote in the 2021 budget message.

Keethler cited in her message how “years without intentional — and consistent — focus on land-use planning are being felt most on the issue of affordable housing,” which ties into the city’s near-complete comprehensive plan, which will be a guiding document for multiple areas of city planning.

“We will realize a completed Comprehensive Plan this upcoming year that aims to shape the next 20 years. Making sure that shape comes to life with equity in mind will require more follow through and strategic action than we have relied upon in the past. There are many pieces to solve the puzzle of truly achieving long-term affordable housing, but I do believe this is an important part.”

Conboy is set to begin later this month. He will be working under the direction of City Manager Pat Munyan.