Important Common Council vote on Monday, April 3 at 7pm

URGENT!

On Monday, April 3 at 7pm, the Common Council will be voting to fill the vacant position of Director of Planning, Conservation and Development. The mayor has (1) proposed a change to the job description of this position, and (2) appointed his Administrative Assistant, Joe Samolis, to the post. The agenda for Monday night’s Common Council meeting can be found here.

The heart of the Executive Committee’s concern is this: the mayor proposes changing the job description of the Director of Planning, Conservation and Development to drop the requirement that the Director have a degree in planning. The Director would have to be certified as a Planner within 5 years of the appointment. The proposed job description is here .

Please note that a national search for a new Director was conducted this fall, with over a dozen qualified candidates (under the old job description) applying. Joe Samolis was involved in evaluating these candidates, including participating in the interviews. The mayor then decided to hire none of the applicants, to change the job description, and to hire Mr. Samolis as the new Director.

Stephen Devoto, a longtime WRA member and the current Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, is vehemently against this proposed change to the Director’s job description UNLESS the change also creates and funds a separate city planner position. In his opinion, and the WRA Executive Committee concurs, Middletown is too large a city to not have professional expertise in planned development. In fact, one could argue that there should have been two positions long ago: a director dedicated to administration and oversight, and a planner dedicated to long term city planning and day-to-day implementation of that plan. Middletown’s Zoning Code is in dire need of revision, and that process was started over a year ago, only to be halted during the search for a new Director. Hiring someone with no certification in planning to oversee this process is irresponsible and reckless.

Here are links to several news articles for background reading:

http://www.courant.com/community/middletown/hc-middletown-planning-director-0302-20170301-story.html

http://www.courant.com/community/middletown/hc-middletown-planning-and-zoning-quorum-0309-20170310-story.html

http://www.middletownpress.com/government-and-politics/20170312/middletown-mayors-choice-for-planning-director-moves-forward-despite-some-objections

http://www.middletownpress.com/government-and-politics/20170224/amid-pushback-middletown-mayor-nominates-former-chief-of-staff-as-planning-director

It is the opinion of the Executive Committee that Middletown needs a certified planner on staff. It may be possible that said planner isn’t the administrator Middletown requires to meets its planning, conservation and development needs, and that’s OK. But, to modify a job description to justify the hiring of someone with no planning education or experience is unwise and a poor allocation of tax dollars.

What can you do?

1. Attend Monday night’s Common Council Meeting and voice your opinion during the public comment session.

2. Call or email Common Council members before Monday’s meeting to share your opinion. A list of Council members can be found here. In particular, contact the Deputy Majority Leader Mary Bartolotta (Mary.Bartolotta@MiddletownCT.Gov) or Councilman Gerry Daley (Gerald.Daley@MiddletownCT.Gov).

3. Tell your neighbors and ask them to do #1 or #2.