Planning director Qualls leaves City Hall

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

The city of Sandpoint bid farewell to longtime civil servant Aaron Qualls, who had worked as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a City Council member and, for five years, as head of the Planning and Community Development Department. 

Aaron Qualls. Courtesy photo.

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad noted Qualls departure from the city at the Dec. 16 meeting of the City Council, stating that Qualls “is moving on” to seek “new opportunities.” 

“We really appreciate his service; Aaron was loved by everybody here at City Hall,” the mayor said, referring to Qualls as a friend and colleague.

Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton told the Reader that the city is in the interim contracting with Daren Fluke, with the Jacobs Engineering Group.

“Daren will specifically serve as our interim city planner,” she wrote. “Daren brings a wealth of experience to the city which will be extremely beneficial in this period of record breaking growth and development.”

According to Stapleton, Fluke recently served as the deputy director for comprehensive planning at the city of Boise — a position in which he served for the past seven years, and worked on transportation planning and rewriting of the city’s zoning code. Prior to working for Bosie, Fluke served as site acquisition manager with Powder River Development Services, a senior planner with J-U-B Engineers, a planning manager for Ada County and a planning research associate for the city of Eugene, Ore.  

Fluke belongs to the American Institute of Certified Planners and served three terms as the president of the Idaho Chapter of the American Planning Association. He has also been a featured speaker at planning events, leading sessions titled “Priced Out: How planning and zoning affects affordable housing.”   

Fluke begins his role at the city of Sandpoint Monday, Dec. 28.

“Our city planner is a very important position and does play a crucial role at the city of Sandpoint,” Stapleton told the Reader in an email, noting that the position has been posted on, as well as the American Planning Association and Idaho Chapter of APA. 

Stapleton said that it will take three to four months to fill the position. 

“Daren brings a wealth of experience to the city, which will be extremely beneficial in this period of record breaking growth and development,” Stapleton wrote.

Fluke isn’t the only southern Idahoan expert to work with the city; as Stapleton noted that since last summer the city has contracted with other Boiseans including Diane and Phil Kushlan, with Kushlan and Associates, who advised on the University Park subdivision application for the former University of Idaho site on North Boyer. Diane Kiushlan also assisted with the Cookman Subdivision hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission.  

A second hearing on this subdivision will be held by the City Council at its Jan. 6 meeting.

City Hall summed up Qualls’ years of service: “In addition to being our Planning Director, Aaron has served on the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.  He became an assistant city planner and ultimately the Director of Planning and Community Development,” remarked Mayor Shelby Rognstad.  “Aaron is a good friend to me personally and to the City of Sandpoint.  He has been a great colleague to those of us at City Hall and we all wish him the best in his new adventures.” 

Qualls did not respond to requests for comment.

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