Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
New town planner getting feet on the ground in Vernon

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
October 13, 2007

VERNON - Town Planner Leonard K. Tundermann started his work here Thursday by being introduced to plenty of new faces and a few strange sights.

Town Engineer Tim Timberman took the Middletown resident on a tour of Vernon, showing Tundermann the various projects now underway or in the planning stages before the town's land-use commissions.

The next step - just in time for Halloween - was to visit what town staff have dubbed "the dungeon," the Town Hall basement where records are kept.

"They're keeping me busy," Tundermann said with a smile that betrayed slight trepidation as he wondered what might be lurking downstairs.

Tundermann was hired to replace Neil Pade, who left the position in July to take a similar post in Canton.

Tundermann's annual salary is $76,021 to start. Next July, his pay will increase 3 percent to $81,044 under the union contract. The town also is providing three weeks of paid vacation from the start due to his extensive experience.

Tundermann was the search committee's top choice for the position, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said in a letter of recommendation to Mayor Ellen L. Marmer.

He has more than 30 years' experience as a town planner in Connecticut, most recently serving in Plainville. He has also worked in the planning departments of Groton and Wethersfield and was the mid-state regional planner for the Middletown area.

He also has extensive knowledge of Geographical Information System - or GIS - which the town is in the process of installing. The computerized system captures, stores, and analyzes land-use data, allowing users to create interactive queries and more easily retrieve information.

During the 1990s Tundermann spent six years as manager of the Connecticut Regional Office for Cartographic Associates, a company based in Littleton, N.H. In that job he developed and managed mapping and GIS design.

He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and a master of city and regional planning from Rutgers University in New Jersey. As a private citizen he has served on various land-use commissions in Middletown, including service as chairman of the Conservation Commission and the Open Space Preservation Committee.

"The committee believes that Mr. Tundermann possesses the necessary experience and leadership skills necessary to move this department forward and unanimously encourages your selection of" him, Clark wrote in his letter to Marmer.

Marmer and the Town Council agreed, voting unanimously to ratify Tundermann's appointment at the Sept. 18 Town Council meeting.

In recent years, the workload of the town's Planning Department has drastically increased, as the amount of land in town that is ideally suited for development has dwindled and complex, controversial applications have became the norm.

Over the next few days, as he puts names to faces, Tundermann will have to familiarize himself with a number of issues. They include the hotly contested Home Depot application; Vernon Avenue roadwork that has upset residents there; and the financial constraints of a town that has needed four referendums to pass a budget in recent years.

©Journal Inquirer 2007