Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
PZC chairman steps down to take position in Washington, DC

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:10 PM EST

VERNON — Town officials have bid farewell to Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Lester G. Finkle, who has resigned his post to take a new job after a decade of service to the community.

“Vernon is losing a man of honesty and integrity,” PZC Vice Chairman Chester “Chet” Morgan said during a Town Council meeting Dec. 21.

A New Jersey native, Finkle moved to Vernon by way of California 10 years ago and first became a member of the Inland Wetlands Commission. He was appointed to the PZC in 2005 and has served as chairman since January 2007.

Finkle has spent his career working as a transportation specialist, and is moving to Washington, D.C., to take a promotion from the state division office to the headquarters of the Federal Highway Administration.

“I was upset, but you know, you’ve got to make hay while you can make hay,” Mayor Jason L. McCoy said of hearing about Finkle’s resignation.

“Some might say D.C. is a little better than Vernon. I’m not going to say I’m jealous, but somewhat envious,” McCoy joked.

McCoy presented Finkle with a proclamation for his service, and his fellow PZC members also honored him at their meeting Dec. 16.

Morgan praised Finkle’s dedication to the PZC and said he always based his decisions on the zoning regulations and not public opinion. His even-handed, meticulous handling of contentious development applications likely kept the town out of court battles several times, Morgan added.

“I wish him well as he tries to straighten out Washington, D.C.,” Morgan said.

Several high-profile development applications went before the PZC during Finkle’s tenure, including a plan by Capstone Builders for a housing development off Grier Road, proposals for a Home Depot and Walmart off exit 67, and Ticket Network’s application to build an outdoor concert venue on Bolton Road.

Those applications either were rejected or remain mired in court hearings, but Finkle also oversaw the approval of numerous other, less volatile applications. They include the expansion of the Garden Barn nursery, a new Marriott Springhill Suites hotel on Hartford Turnpike, the development of new housing projects such as Ogden Brook Estates, and the relocation of Harry’s Liquor store and the construction of an eco-friendly, permeable parking lot.

“It’s been a huge pleasure to serve the town,” Finkle said. “I will greatly miss Vernon; it’s definitely bittersweet.”

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