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Temporary hire steps in to lead planning department

January 15, 2019

An interim director with years of experience in Gunnison County, Colorado, took over leadership of the Teton County Planning Department last week.

Steve Westbay worked in the Gunnison County Planning Department and has served as community development director of Mount Crested Butte and the city of Gunnison.

“I have quite a bit of background and work experience in resort development, the natural resource piece of planning in communities that are similar to Jackson,” he said. “We were dealing with many of the same issues in Colorado on the resource ecology end of things.”

For example, he said, he has experience in endangered species protection, resource management, transportation and affordable housing. Westbay said he’s so far encouraged by the interesting challenges at the Teton County department and its “dynamic staff.”

“I’m fortunate to be coming into a department that they’re clicking on all cylinders,” Westbay said. “That’s a great thing, and I’m relying on their expertise to help me understand the community issues, the details of the code, the administrative policies of the code, the geography and lay of the land. I’m learning as I go.”

He said he’s looking forward to diving into the planning department’s priorities for 2019, which include formulating new natural resource protections, updating zoning at the Aspens, and road and utility regulations, and looking into housing supply on publicly-owned land at the intersection of Jackson Street and Kelly Avenue, as well as on Mercill Avenue.

Westbay moved to Jackson from Colorado with his wife and daughter and looks forward to fishing, hiking, rock climbing and skiing.

“I feel fortunate to be here,” he said.

The county hired Westbay on Dec. 31 through a government temp agency. He’ll serve as interim planning director for three months, with an option to extend his contract for three more months. County administrators will use that time to search for a permanent director.

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