The planning director’s position was a target of Bennett’s proposed restructuring.

LEWISTON – Lewiston’s Planning Department will get along without a designated land use planner after Jim Lysen’s resignation last week.

Lysen, Lewiston planning director, resigned his position April 14, and Deputy Development Director Gil Arsenault said he and Land Use Inspector David Hediger will handle the planning functions in addition to their code enforcement duties for the meantime.

Lysen could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Arsenault said he was prepared to assume those duties as a part of City Administrator Jim Bennett’s proposed restructuring, but Lysen’s resignation moved up the timetable.

“It has less to do with the restructuring and more to do with what happens when you have employee turnover,” Arsenault said. “For us, it’s just a matter of spending more time on those planning duties.”

Lysen’s position was a target of Bennett’s proposed restructuring. That plan would have eliminated 16 positions and split some of the city’s larger departments, including the Community Development Department. Plans call for splitting it into Planning and Code Enforcement and Economic Development departments.

Councilors are still reviewing Bennett’s plan, which should save the city an estimated $600,000 per year. If councilors agree, the city would hire an intermediate planner to handle land use questions, project review and site development issues. That person would answer to Arsenault.

Planning projects won’t suffer in the meantime, but some special projects might. For example, Arsenault said Lysen’s efforts to involve local students in planning at No Name Pond wouldn’t be duplicated.

“I think that this comes as no surprise given the fiscal reality in this city,” Arsenault said. “We are one person deep in many of these departments, and we have quite a backlog of other projects. So there is a lot of work to do.”

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