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Manville-Ailles will plan for Mount Vernon

Marianne Manville-Ailles has played a key role for three years helping develop long range plans for the Town of La Conner.

Now her own career plans are taking her elsewhere.

Manville-Ailles announced last week she will leave after the holidays to assume a senior planning position with the City of Mount Vernon.

Town Planner since January 2018, Manville-Ailles also provides contract basis planning services for the Town of Concrete and other entities and clients.

That relentless juggling act, further complicated by impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, had become increasingly less sustainable.

“At this point in my career,” she told La Conner Planning Commission members at their Nov. 17 Zoom meeting, “having 60-hour work weeks and four meetings per week was wearing thin. It will be nice to have just one jurisdiction.”

While in La Conner, Manville-Ailles has worked in concert with planning commissioners to craft proposed updates to the Town’s Comprehensive and Shoreline Management plans, and promote policies designed to address the local housing shortage.

“Quite a lot has gotten done in a short period of time,” Mayor Ramon Hayes said of Manville-Ailles’ La Conner tenure. “We also probably had our busiest permitting season last year and that trend, amazingly enough, is continuing this year.”

Manville-Ailles brought to La Conner a wealth of education and experience.

She studied political science and public affairs as an undergrad student at the University of Denver. Her master’s degree program at the University of British Columbia focused on regional planning.

After settling in Skagit Valley, Manville-Ailles joined the Burlington Planning Commission and rose to a top planning post with Skagit Surveyors & Engineers.

“When it comes to planning,” said Hayes, “you can’t do better than Marianne. We’ve been fortunate to have her level of expertise.”

Town Administrator Scott Thomas echoed those sentiments.

“She has a broad depth of knowledge,” Thomas said of Manville-Ailles. “She gets right to the issue.

“Marianne,” he added, “is well-versed in a wide range of land use topics and takes a lead role in all of them.”

Manville-Ailles has gained a reputation for being a consensus-builder and problem-solver while deftly navigating the multi-layered mosaic of planning issues specific to La Conner, including those related to historic preservation, shoreline, environmental and zoning guidelines.

It seemed fated that Manville-Ailles would one day work in La Conner. She likes to remind folks that she went into labor with one of her sons while on a visit here.

La Conner Planning Commissioners said Manville-Ailles’ guidance will be missed.

“We’re happy for you,” commission chair Liz Theaker told Manville-Ailles at the close of the panel’s near hour-long session last Tuesday, “but we’re sad to see you go.”

“Congratulations, for sure,” said commissioner Carol Hedlin, “but we’re sad to see you leave.”

Thomas and Hayes said it is too early to comment on a potential successor to Manville-Ailles given that she will remain on board at least through December.

“We’ll go through our normal process and look at applicants,” said Thomas.

Until then, he and other Town leaders remain thankful for Manville-Ailles’ service to La Conner.

“We’re sorry to lose her,” Thomas stressed.


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