NEW MILFORD - The planning and zoning commission s hope this is the year to hire a part-time town planner or consultant to assist the land-use agencies in managing the town's burgeoning growth. The leaders of both commissions, and the town's Zoning Enforcement Officer, Kathy Castagnetta , said a planner is critical to the town's land-use future. "We need somebody, somewhere," said
Planning Commission Chairman Vivian Harris . Zoning Commission Chairman George Doring agreed that a planner is a must-have, especially with the complexity of the projects that are coming up this year. Mayor
Patricia Murphy also said a planner would be a strong addition to the current land-use staff. But she won't support that until the charter is changed so that the zoning and planning commissions are combined. She said a planner who could help compose regulations to match the town's development plan would make the entire land-use process more efficient. At a meeting this week between the planning and zoning commissions, members of the boards talked about ways to improve communication. On some recent proposed changes to zoning regulations, Harris said the Planning Commission made recommendations that the Zoning Commission ignored. Zoning Commission members said the proposals were too vague. Both agreed that the hiring of a planner to review the projects that come before both commissions will reduce conflicts between the boards. Members of both commissions were divided Murphy's idea to combine the two boards. Some say a combined commission would be the most efficient way to go, and others advocate continued independence between the regulatory and policy-setting functions. Now, Castagnetta, the zoning enforcement officer, is in charge of most of the analysis done on various development proposals. On the larger projects, the commission had to hire outside planning consultants to offer advice. "We need to work together," Harris said.

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