Local Government and Politics, News

Selectmen split on full-time planner

LYNNFIELD — Selectmen are split on funding a full-time town planner.

In their proposed budget for the next fiscal year, planning board members are recommending the town fund a town planner to the tune of $65,000. Currently, a planning and land use assistant with a budgeted salary of just under $49,000, helps the board with planning and administrative work.

“We think the town is at a point … where it is appropriate to have someone who is a true town planner both by experience and training,” said Brian Charville, the planning board chairman.

A planner would be more proactive with development and also help with projects such as the current update of the town’s master plan, Charville said.

Selectmen Chairman Christopher Barrett and selectman Richard Dalton said they would be inclined to support the position, while selectman Philip Crawford said he’s still on the fence.

“I like that it would be more proactive than reactive,” said Barrett. “As we look at Lynnfield in the years ahead, I think it is an important position.”

Crawford said that the town is already substantially built out, and there might not be a great need for a full-time planner.

“It doesn’t really lend itself to a town the size of Lynnfield, where our development side is already there,” he said. “I don’t know if that is the best place to spend an additional $20,000 to $25,000. I think we can find someone to run the current position without going to a full-time planner.”

The previous planning and land use assistant retired last year.

Dalton, who was on the planning board for a dozen years, said the position is long overdue.

“In traveling over the state and dealing with other municipalities, it is not uncommon for towns of this size to have a town planner,” he said.

The recommended salary for a planner in Lynnfield was in part determined by a 2016 advertisement for a full-time planner in Georgetown, Charville said.

Selectmen will make an official budget recommendation on all department budget requests closer to the annual town meeting in April.

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