Published in the September 5, 2018 edition


LYNNFIELD — The Planning Board supported a proposal last week seeking to overhaul the town’s Planning and Conservation Departments.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan recalled the town’s fiscal year 2019 budget includes a town planner position budgeted for $65,000. The town previously had a planning and land use assistant, Kathy Randele, who worked for the town for 28 years before retiring last year.

“I want to congratulate the Planning Board for recognizing a planner is needed for the town,” said Dolan.

Dolan noted planners specialize in different areas just like doctors and lawyers. He said it’s in the town’s best interest to hire a planner who specializes in land use.

“We know that God is not making anymore land,” said Dolan. “I have always seen that a planner is an advocate for the quality of life and the themes we want to preserve in our community. That’s livability, peacefulness and historic preservation.”

Dolan also said a planner could focus on other areas such as updating the town’s Master Plan or working with the Department of Public Works on different infrastructure initiatives such as the Complete Streets program.

“We need flexibility and expertise but from a budgetary standpoint, we need sustainability for this position and this office,” said Dolan. “The budget is going to be harder in the years to come as new growth in this community slides dramatically down.”

Dolan proposed merging the Conservation and Planning Departments, and creating a director of planning and conservation position. He proposed offering the director’s position to current Conservation Administrator Emilie Cademartori.

“Emilie has been invaluable to me for the last seven months because of her expertise,” said Dolan. “She was the planner for the town of Wenham from 2007 to 2016.”

Dolan proposed hiring three part-time employees in order to provide assistance to the director. He said one employee will work on Planning Board initiatives, while two other employees will focus on conservation matters. He said one of the conservation employees will conduct site visits for the ConCom.

“They would serve as direct staff to the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board,” said Dolan. “They will be cross-trained and will be expected to answer questions when people come into the office.”

Dolan said the proposal has a $150,000 price tag, which includes $80,000 for the director’s position. He said Cademartori’s current salary is $63,550.

In addition to seeking approval from the Planning Board, Dolan will be asking the Conservation Commission and Board of Selectmen to approve the plan.

“Once those three approvals happen, we will follow Town Bylaws by posting the position internally first, which is the town’s policy,” said Dolan. “If there is any individual working for the town who is qualified, they will be given full consideration and the job will not be posted outside of Town Hall. If it’s deemed an individual does not meet those qualifications, we will post it.”


Planning Board member John Gioioso inquired how Dolan envisions the director will identify priorities.

“I would not be considering this if Emilie did not have experience as a conservation administrator and planning director,” said Dolan. “She is an expert in both of these fields, which makes her a unique person. What we don’t want to do here is put a round peg in a square hole. We have an expert who is able to bounce around. I know it’s a lot, but the staff supporting her will allow that balance to happen.”

Dolan noted large cities such as Cambridge, Somerville and Worcester were the only communities who previously hired planners. He said medium-sized communities such as Melrose and Reading started hiring planners, and now small towns such as Lynnfield are getting into the game.

“There is a shortage of individuals in this field,” said Dolan. “Many universities in the area, particularly Tufts, UMass and Clark, have created programs. This community needs someone who has experience in land use.”

Dolan believes Cademartori is committed to the town and will stay in Lynnfield for a long time.

In response to another question from Gioioso, Dolan said a consultant primarily conducts work on a master plan.

“That consultant can be funded by grants provided by the MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council) with support from the town,” said Dolan. “I believe Emilie will be able to handle that.”

Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville asked how the part-time positions would be filled.

“It would be the same process,” said Dolan.

Former Planning Board co-Chairwoman Heather Sievers, who resigned from the board last year because she expressed interest in becoming the town’s planner, aired concerns about Dolan’s proposal. She noted a part-time clerk worked for the two boards many years ago and said it created logistical issues.

“We already tried this experiment in this town and it didn’t work,” said Sievers.

Dolan said he’s confident the revamped department will be successful.

“I want this to be successful and this is the budget and the staffing (Cademartori) is proposing,” said Dolan.

Gioioso expressed his support for revamping the two departments.

“I think Rob is making the right decision for both boards and the town,” said Gioioso.

Charville agreed.

“I think it’s well thought out,” said Charville.

Planning Board member Katherine Flaws echoed her fellow board members’ viewpoints.

After the discussion, the Planning Board voted 3-0 to realign the two departments. Planning Board Vice Chairman Michael Sheehan and Planning Board member Charlie Wills were not present at the meeting.