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Grand County Planning & Zoning Department Gets New Leadership

June 16, 2021 by admin
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In an effort to build a Planning and Zoning Department with a solid planning and development foundation, Grand County has named John J. Guenther as director and Elissa Martin the associate planner. Collectively, the pair brings over 40 years of planning experience to the county. Guenther and Martin bring robust knowledge and have proven track records for successfully implementing planning strategies for livable communities and smart growth, reads the statement from Associate Commission Administrator Mallory Nassau.

Guenther began his tenure Wednesday after relocating from the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada, where he served as the director of Community Planning.

He oversaw 350 jurisdictions, reviewed zoning and comprehensive plans, and led long-range and current planning in urban and rural communities. Previously, Guenther served as Planning and Development Services director for Prince Albert, SK, managing a department that delivered public services for building, lands, economic development and urban planning. Guenther has also served as assistant director or director in public community development departments in Washington State; Surprise, Arizona; San Diego, the City of North Vancouver, and Alberta.

Guenther has over 25 years of experience in building regulations, urban planning and enforcement, including official community plan development; community indicators; community outreach; master planning for transportation, parks, land use and housing; and strategic planning. He is certified in Building, Planning and Environmental Science and holds his doctorate in Urban Planning.

Martin begins with Grand County on June 28. She has nearly 15 years of experience and holds her Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. Relocating from California, Elissa is not a stranger to rural Utah. Previously, she lived and worked as a planner in southern Utah and has witnessed firsthand the effects of rapid development and growth throughout the region.

“Martin has a unique understanding of the complex and vital role the county planning department has in balancing future development, tourism, natural resource management, open space, transportation, and housing. After graduation, Martin worked for a non-profit in southern Utah, assisting small rural communities with general plans and creating and updating zoning codes. Martin, a fourth generation Utahn, is eager to return to Utah and will relocate with her family,” reads the statement.

Guenther and Martin’s diverse skills and experience are well suited for several large upcoming planning projects, reads the statement. “The county will begin a General Plan update, a public lands bill, and a transportation plan update in the coming year. All the while facing the complex challenges of sustainable growth, tourism, housing and community wellbeing.”

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