Planning Board Chair says department needs help to keep up with demand
Clerical help and part-time planner discussed as applicants express frustration
By Theresa Knapp
Hopedale Planning Board Chairman Stephen Chaplin told the Select Board his department needs help managing their workload and coordinating the application process, and the need is immediate.
“What we’ve been kicking around is allocating $10,000 to one or more existing employees we have who can take on the work we have,” said Chaplin, noting that person could also assist other departments that have similar needs.
Select Board Chairman Brian Keyes said applicants have expressed frustration with the slow pace of moving their projects through Town Hall; Town Administrator Diana Schindler said there needs to be a point person to manage the Planning Board workload; and Selectperson Glenda Hazard stressed the Planning Board is “floundering now” and needs help “asap.”
A lengthy discussion followed about possible alternatives such as hiring “apprentices” from the school system, identifying current town employees interested in a few more hours a week, utilizing the Town Clerk’s office more frequently, and relying on town counsel in the interim. Ultimately, the board decided to accept the offer of ZBA Chair Chris Hodgens who volunteered to serve as an unpaid “short-term bridge” between the immediate need and possible hiring of a part-time planner next year.
Selectperson Lou Arcudi III suggested the Planning Board use its budget for a recording secretary to help with minutes and agenda creation.
Anyone interested in this clerical position is encouraged to visit the town website for details and to apply through the town’s Talent Bank form at https://www.hopedale-ma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif711/f/uploads/talent_bank_form_updated_2020.pdf
Chaplin will work with Schindler and Hodgens to get someone in the office as soon as possible with the hope of hiring a part-time paid planner whenever possible.
Said Chaplin, “We need to evolve somewhat quickly. Development opportunities in front of us are becoming more sophisticated.”