Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon council, town officials beam over new town planner

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
May 3, 2006

VERNON - Former Economic Development Director Neil S. Pade took over the Planning Department today, one day after the Town Council unanimously approved his appointment.

Pade, 34, was tapped by Mayor Ellen L. Marmer last week to succeed former Town Planner Thomas J. Joyce Jr., who retired at the end of March.

But before Pade could take over the department, the Town Council needed to sign off on his appointment.

Following a 30-minute executive session, and a few brief questions, the council voted to approve Pade's hiring.

The vote was followed by enthusiastic applause from Town Council members and other town officials and residents who were in attendance at Tuesday night's meeting.

Information about Pade's salary was not available Wednesday.

Following the vote, Pade said he was enthusiastic about his new job and talked about three major projects that he expects to undertake in the coming weeks and months.

First, Pade said, the Planning Department needs to be reorganized to allow the staff to meet the public's demands, while ensuring that all state-required application deadlines are met.

The department has seen its workload drastically increase during the past couple of years as the amount of land in town ideally suited for development dwindles and complex and controversial applications have become the norm.

Secondly, Pade said, his office would begin working on updating the Plan of Conservation and Development, which acts as a guide for land-use commissions.

Pade said that document must be updated every 10 years, and once that plan is modified, zoning regulations also must be updated for consistency.

Thirdly, Pade said, he would like to see the town invest in global information system technology, which would make it easier for the Planning Department to track parcels and any changes that may be made to wetland boundaries or property lines.

Pade said GIS technology has become common in many Connecticut towns and would be a useful tool for other town departments.

"It's something I'm seriously going to have to advocate for," Pade said.

Pade takes over the Planning Department after spending nearly two years as the economic development coordinator and assistant town planner.

Pade, a Newington resident and native of New York's Catskill Mountain region, came to the town in August 2004 after spending nearly four years with the Maguire Group in New Britain as a senior planner and project manager.

Pade, who holds a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York, completed his master's in business administration degree from the University of Hartford early last year.

Before the Town Council vote, two town residents spoke in favor of Pade's appointment.

Harry D. Thomas of 125 Dockerel Road, a member of the Inland Wetlands Commission, said Pade's input has been valuable.

"He inputs, not to control, but to provide advice," Thomas said.

Brookview Drive resident Juanita L. Bair, a former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, also supported Pade.

"Neil is very knowledgeable about the entire planing process," Bair said. "Neil is energetic, tactful, and has a wonderful demeanor. I valued his input while on the Planning and Zoning Commission."

With his appointment now official, Pade said he was looking forward to starting his new job.

"It's been a very positive environment to work in, Vernon," Pade said. "I've really enjoyed the friendships I've made."

In other business, the Town Council voted 10-0 to hire Glastonbury police Lt. James L. Kenny to serve as the new police captain effective May 22.

Republicans Mark S. Etre and Daniel A. Champagne, a Vernon police officer, abstained from the vote.

Kenny will earn an annual salary of $78,270. The last time the town had a police captain was in June 2003, when Capt. Michael McMullen was laid off.

McMullen has since filed a federal lawsuit against the town accusing officials of depriving him of his civil rights.

Kenny, a South Windsor resident who has spent nearly 21 years with the Glastonbury Police Department, was the unanimous recommendation of a search committee, which included two police chiefs and a police lieutenant, Police Chief Rudolf Rossmy wrote in an April 24 memorandum to the mayor.

©Journal Inquirer 2006