Sunday, September 2, 2018

Planning Department Positions To Be Considered At Tuesday Council Meeting

The Common Council will discuss and vote on the Mayor's proposal to re-organize the Department of Planning, Conservation, and Development, Tuesday at 7PM in Council Chambers, the Council's next meeting.

The PCD office has been understaffed for most of the last two years, and currently is without an environmental specialist, deputy director, and zoning enforcement officer. This is raising concern about wetlands and zoning inspections and enforcement, grants management, and other acute land use activities in our city (Commissioners Fear Crisis In Understaffed Planning Office).

The shortage of staffing and planning expertise has also made it difficult to engage in long-term planning, to improve economic development and sustainability in general, and the vibrancy of the riverfront and gateways to the city in particular.

The proposal includes the addition of a new position, a City Planner (job description), who would assume the role of the Deputy Director. This position would bring training, and professional experience in planning to the city for the first time since Michiel Wackers left two years ago. This is particularly important as the city prepares the state-mandated update to our Plan of Conservation and Development. This document, which is re-written every 10 years, provides the foundation for all of the city's regulations, particularly in the area of land use.

In addition, the proposal changes the former Deputy Director job into a Community development Specialist (job description), who would be responsible for writing and administering grants, including the Housing and Urban Development grants from Washington. 

Some progress is also being made with respect to the other two vacant positions. The Zoning Enforcement Officer job was advertised about a month ago, and final interviews are being held this week.

The vacant Environmental Specialist position will be reviewed by the Common Council. Any proposal to change its job description would be considered first by the General Counsel Commission, which meets next on September 13th.
Note: the author is Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission. His is not a neutral voice--he strongly supports the proposed changes to both of the job descriptions.


Anonymous said...

You state: "This position (City Planner) would bring training, and professional experience in planning to the city for the first time since Michiel Wackers left two years ago." First, it seems that you are conveniently forgetting that former ZEO Linda Reed had DECADES of city planning & zoning experience. After Wackers left, she was the ONLY person in that office who not only knew what to do, but did the job. Even Drew and Daley had to reference her experience when they conned the Council and the public to appoint Samolis as Director. Now, here's the real question: why should any planner come to Middletown and work under Samolis, who has NO credentials yet earns well over $100,000/year on the backs of taxpayers? The City Planner should be the Director since that person will have the skills and credentials to do the work. Yes, support the much needed City Planner position, but let's clean house, too.

Anonymous said...

So what exactly will the supposed current director be doing for $120k of taxpayer money...time for Samolis to go! Oh wait, he is a Drew unqualified crony. Only reason he even has the job.!

EnzoDast said...

No mention in this article of the current director lacking the necessary qualifications? Has he even started the 3 had training to obtain it? So now tax payers need another deputy director because the existing director is unqalified? This whole thing is a joke right? If this goes through our city is hopeless.

Fix the current leadership! Then address the rest of the department!

Biff Shaw said...

I am baffled to learn that the Planning function is and has been so poorly staffed in the recent years. My experience, staring in the 1970'1 with George Reif informs me that this city is badly served when there is no one with the experience, integrity and back bone to manage that function. The pressures and influences put on that position are considerable and good planning will not come from inexperience or substandard training.
I am personally aware of it as I find the city allowing the one functional and forward looking building (The former City Savings Bank) to be lost and a commercial facility put in its place. You had (we had) the FIRST building of it kind designed for solar (not a retrofit), a building that won local and national recognition...and it is lost.
That would not of happened if a George Reif or a Bill Warner had been serving. Planning and Development means watching the past heritage as well as the future. Woe is me and it should be woe is all of Middletown.
For heavens sake, get a good , well-trained, independent minded person in that job and let him/her doe the job without interference. Please!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with all comments regarding the Planning jobs. But, I am not surprised that this is happening. Middletown voters need to look at ALL the City jobs that are "gifts" to friends of the right people.