At a Missoula City Council meeting on Wednesday, Eran Pehan was named the director of a new amalgam of city services called Community Planning, Development and Innovation.

Pehan said the correlation between the different services will bring more efficiency to the development process in Missoula.

“One of the outcomes of that work was identifying the very strong mission alignment between what is today Housing and Community Development and our goals around ensuring everyone in Missoula has a place to call home, and development services which is charged with really ensuring quality, growth and development in our community today,” said Pehan.

With the challenges Missoula faces regarding the availability of land for new housing, Pehan said developers will have to face some new realities.

“We have areas in our community that make good sense for residential development,” she said. However, when we identify those areas, we need to probably build at a density higher than what we are accustomed to, and higher than what we might be initially comfortable with right now.”

She said that zoning will have a lot to do with creating new neighborhoods in Missoula.

“We're seeing with a lot of rezoning processes,” she said. “The difficulty with that in the community is the struggle to figure out how we do that in a way that we feel it protects our character and protects what we envisioned Missoula to be.”

Pehan said there will be a relearning process as more people move into the Missoula valley requiring more homes to be built.

“I won't lie that those conversations are difficult and are going to continue to be difficult,” she said. “But at the end of the day, if Missoula doesn't grow, Missoula is not going to be a place for everyone anymore. It's going to be a place for a select few who can afford to remain here. And I think that is so counter to our value as Missoula being a place that provides opportunity for everyone. I think folks are ready to have that conversation. They're ready to figure out how as a community, we balance values and how we remain a place where everybody has an opportunity to thrive.”

The new department combines the four areas traditionally tasked with community development.