The City of South Portland has hired a planner from California to replace Charles “Tex” Haeuser, the city’s long time director of planning.

City Manager Scott Morelli announced the hiring of Milan Nevajda, deputy director of planning for Sonoma County, in a news release Tuesday.

South Portland Planning Director Tex Haeuser will retire March 12 after 30 years on the job. He said the new director will have a “full plate.” Kelley Bouchard/Staff Writer

Haeuser announced in December that he was planning to retire in March after holding the job for 30 years. At the time, the 66-year-old Haeuser said it was time to move on to new challenges, possibly working part time as a planning consultant focused on mitigating climate-change impacts.

Haeuser was instrumental in overseeing development and growth in Maine’s fourth largest city, developing new traffic patterns and zoning for the Knightville and Mill Creek shopping area neighborhoods following construction of the Casco Bay Bridge, developing the city’s Greenbelt Walkway system, funding public transportation through tax increment financing, and defending the city’s Clear Skies ordinance against a federal lawsuit.

Haeuser was voted Maine’s Professional Planner of the Year in 2010 by his peers.

“Tex’s shoes will be difficult to fill, not just for his service to the city but for the leadership he provided in the planning profession in Maine,” Nevajda said in a statement. “South Portland is a dynamic community with multiple bold and critical initiatives underway. I am very excited to join the team.”

Nevajda has overseen long-range planning initiatives for Sonoma County, a 1,770 square mile region with 76 miles of coastal zone and 500,000 residents. He manages a staff of more than 50 workers.

By comparison, Nevajda will manage a staff of three employees in South Portland. He is scheduled to start on April 21. Haeuser had planned to retire March 12, but agreed to help with the transition by remaining for Nevajda’s first week on the job.

Nevajda is not new to Maine. He worked one year as a planner for New Gloucester in 2013-14. He also worked as a planner for Planning Decisions Inc., a Maine-based company, from 2014-2017. During his time with the firm, Nevajda worked on South Portland’s Mill Creek master plan.

Milan Nevajda Photo courtesy city of South Portland

Nevajda, who was born in Croatia and grew up in Toronto, will be paid an annual salary of $90,812. He was chosen from a field of 18 applicantsand five finalists. Nevajda will report on a daily basis to Assistant City Manager Joshua Reny, who oversees the planning, code and enforcement departments.

“Milan brings to this position a breadth of experience across many functions,” Reny said. “He has notable experience in long-range planning, including transportation and climate action planning, economic analysis and affordable housing policy. These will remain challenges for the city in the years ahead and will require a thoughtful, deliberate approach to prepare for the future.”

Nevajda has a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics from the University of Toronto and a master of urban planning degree from McGill University in Montreal.

The city will host an event where the community can meet Nevajda. A date and location for the meeting has not yet been chosen.


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