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Interim city planner resigns, plans move
by MATTHEW NASH
Joe Irvin, 28, City of Sequim interim planning director, announced his resignation last week, leaving the lead position vacant and the planning department in transition.
He intends to move to southern Florida with his family wherehis wife, Kate, will pursue a graduate degree in occupational therapy. His last day will be Friday, April 15.
City Manager Steve Burkett said he anticipates hiring a new planning director in May and someone on a short-term contract to cover day-to-day planning until then. His intent is to hire an associate or senior planner afterward, depending on the new planning director’s strengths and weaknesses and the type of applicants the city receives.
Irvin said he’s been weighing leaving for a few months and considered applying for his current position permanently.
“The interim job gave me a good opportunity to see what I could be doing,” Irvin said.
“Katie and I talked about it the first day I became interim planning director and this is the way the cards fell. For her to pursue grad school always has been a priority. I’m looking forward to being a more supportive husband and hands-on father.”
He said moving would be easier on his daughter, Michaela, 2½, now than later.
“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Irvin said. “Sequim has a great deal to offer us. There’s great people, staff and city manager.”
Burkett said he and Irvin talked quite a bit about the open planning director position. “I encouraged him to apply and said he would either get the job or was going to remain a senior planner and an important part of the planning staff,” Burkett said.
Becoming an associate planner was Irvin’s first job after graduating from California State University at Channel Islands with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and resource management.
Former Planning Director Dennis Lefevre hired him while he was a senior in college and Irvin began 10 days after graduating on May 31, 2005. He became interim planning director in October 2010 after Lefevre resigned.
Irvin said he is in good standing with city staff and the decision to leave was mutual with his wife.
Since taking over as interim planning director, Irvin has fronted projects such as the city’s Downtown Plan, zoning reform changes and updating the comprehensive plan.
Irvin said when the Downtown Plan goes to the city council on March 28 the proposed draft will be 80-90 percent complete with any possible changes coming from citizens and councilors’ reactions.
Burkett said implementation of the plan is key for the project over the coming years. Irvin said that councilors approved the first stage of zoning changes with a lot of feedback from citizens and that additional changes would come after adopting the comprehensive plan revision.
Despite not a lot of individual planning going on, Irvin said he worked in customer relations on a daily basis, including discussions about zoning reform and compliance.
He listed his proudest accomplishments in the job:
• Completing the June Robinson Memorial Park with Jeff Edwards, city parks manager, and the gardening community
• Maintaining positive relationships with co-workers
• Being a representative for the city workers’ union and gaining a better understanding of labor issues.
Burkett said he and other staff would miss Irvin.
“Joe is a great representative of the talented people we have providing services to our community,” Burkett said.
“This will be a big loss for our city organization and our community,” Burkett said, adding he’ll miss Irvin’s informal leadership most.
“We can always find technically competent people, but you don’t always find the informal leadership skills,” Burkett said. “Since he’s been the interim director, he’s really taken on a lot and been willing to step up.”
Irvin’s current position as interim planning director pays about $72,000 a year. Burkett said Irvin wouldn’t receive any kind of package or settlement.
Irvin said that in Florida he would miss the feeling that he’s home when crossing the Hood Canal bridge coming from Seattle.
“I came to Sequim not really knowing what to expect and over the last six years I have found that people here care about what happens here,” Irvin said. “Sequim is a great place to live, work and call home. I am excited for my family’s next adventure, but I will miss working with all of my co-workers and the Sequim community.”
More on the city’s planning director position can be found online at www.ci.sequim.wa.us.