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Town Planner

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Posted: 02/07/2021

Town Planner

Position Summary:
Provides professional, technical, and administrative assistance to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, the Land Use Management Department, the Town Manager’s Office, and other boards and committees as directed.  Reviews and makes recommendations on development proposals to ensure consistency with the Town’s Zoning Bylaw, General Bylaws, Master Plan, and any applicable rules, regulations, and policies.  Coordinates, facilitates, and attends all meetings of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals and related committees or subcommittees. Develops and/or updates the Zoning Bylaw, General Bylaws, and applicable rules and regulations regarding community development.  The Town Planner is the primary point of contact for all questions or matters relating to the development of land in Westford.  Must have working knowledge of Building, Conservation, Planning and Zoning permitting processes and issues.

Principal Responsibilities:
1. Reviews all plans and application materials on behalf of the Planning Board (including, but not limited to, Approval Not Required (ANR) Plans, preliminary and definitive subdivision plans, site plans, earth removal permits, scenic road permits, stormwater management permits, and special permits) and on behalf of the Zoning Board of Appeals (including, but not limited to, variances, special permits, appeals, and comprehensive permits) for consistency with the Zoning Bylaw, General Bylaws, Master Plan, the Town of Westford Subdivision Rules and Regulations, and any other applicable regulations or policies.

2. Coordinates and staffs the review processes for all development proposals each year that undergo review by the Planning Board and/or Zoning Board of Appeals, from initiation through design, construction, and completion.  Responsible for continuing review throughout the course of development to ensure ongoing compliance.

3. Reviews all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals applications to determine if sufficiently complete to proceed.

4. Responsible for distributing plan and application materials (and resubmittals) in a timely manner to ensure adequate time for receipt of comments from Town Departments.

5. Organizes and conducts Technical Review Committee Meetings on an as-needed basis to facilitate coordinated reviews of proposals by Town departments.

6. Coordinates peer review processes on behalf of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. 

7. Provides expert technical assistance and general information on land use and zoning matters to other town staff, residents, business owners, property owners and developers, community groups, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and others as requested or directed.    

8. Attends evening meetings approximately four (4) times per month.  Attends all after-hours meetings of the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Occasionally attends meetings of the Select Board and other committees as needed or directed (such as Affordable Housing Committee, Historical Commission, etc.).

9. Some occasional evening and weekend work may be necessary if unable to complete project or departmental goals within deadlines.

10. Accurately and consistently tracks and ensures compliance with Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals conditions of approval.

11. Conducts site visits as needed to ensure that projects are constructed in accordance with plans approved by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

12. Prepares Staff Reports for the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals providing overview of applications, potential issues, applicable review standards and deadlines, and suggesting conditions of approval as appropriate or as requested.

13. Coordinates with the Building Department to secure zoning opinions to verify permits and approvals required for any given proposal.

14. Responsible for ensuring that all qualifying affordable housing dwelling units are accurately accounted for in the Town of Westford Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).

15. Prepares and files all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals Decisions within required timeframes.

16. Reviews applications for Building Permits and Certificates of Occupancy on behalf of the Planning and Zoning Departments.

17. Oversees the preparation, filing, and maintenance of required documentation and project files.  

18. Responsible for ensuring compliance with all legal notification and mailing requirements for all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals processes.  Ensures that plans and other application and/or decision materials are readily available to the public.

19. Works with developers, applicants, and residents to ensure an efficient and high-quality permitting process.

20. Provides sufficient oversight to minutes-takers to ensure that draft minutes are available for consideration by boards and committees in compliance with Open Meeting Law requirements.  Town Planner is responsible for proofing draft sets of minutes prior to submittal to boards.  Responsible for providing approved sets of Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (and related committees or subcommittees) minutes to the Office of the Town Clerk in a timely manner.

21. Responsible for preparing Executive Session meeting minutes for Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

22. The Town Planner is the primary point of contact for all matters relating to permitting within the Land Use Management Department.  

23. Responsible for preparing and ensuring timely postings/publications of all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals agendas and public hearing notices.

24. Responsible for providing sufficient information and direction to the Permitting Program Assistant to ensure the accurate creation, tracking and/or closing out of all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals performance bonds, covenants, escrows, releases, and other securities.

25. Accurately tracks attendance by all Board members and applicable deadlines to ensure timely final action for all Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals applications.

26. Responds to daily public inquiries on planning and zoning related matters over the phone, in writing and/or in person.

27. Maintains accurate records of land use matters.

28. Responds to all public records requests relating to Planning and Zoning Departments.
29. Updates and drafts bylaws and regulations and presents at public meetings including Town Meeting.

30. Monitors national, state, and municipal community development trends and interprets such trends to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, the Affordable Housing Committee, the Director of Land Use Management, and other Town committees/agencies; maintains and updates planning and zoning data including statistics, graphs, charts, and maps.

31. Assists the DLUM with matters related to land use litigation and appeals.  

32. Coordinates planning initiatives as directed and may manage consultant contracts.

33. Ensures that the Boards and Committees that they serve comply with all Open Meeting Law requirements.

34. Coordinates and facilitates special town committees such as the Master Plan Committee, Master Plan Implementation Committee, and other committees as directed.

35. Staffs or assists in staffing the planning of town-wide infrastructure, transportation and park projects.

36. With the approval from the Director of Land Use Management, may delegate some of the administrative and other tasks to the Assistant Planner and/or Permitting Program Assistant.

37. The Town Planner shall be cross-trained in Conservation matters to improve the overall permitting knowledge base and to facilitate a more efficient permitting process.  Conservation tasks may be assigned on an as-needed basis to the Town Planner by the Director of Land Use Management either for training purposes or (depending on workload and staffing levels) if deemed necessary for the functionality of the Department. 

38. Assumes additional responsibilities and performs related work as required or as directed.

Required Experience, Skills, Knowledge and Abilities: 
A minimum of five (5) years of experience (public or private sector or combination thereof) in land use permitting, preferably in Massachusetts, is required.  Must be familiar with and have knowledge of local zoning bylaws, regulations, and applicable state statutes including Mass. Gen. Laws Ch.40A, 40B, and 41, and be able to read plans (plot plans, subdivision plans, site plans, etc.).  Position requires exceptional written and verbal skills, including superior customer service with residents, applicants, attorneys, engineers, surveyors, co-workers, etc., on complex issues.  Must have outstanding organizational and problem-solving skills, experience in project management, and experience with MS Office (GIS experience a plus) is required. 

The ideal candidate shall experience in managing the review processes for large-scale, complex development projects at the planning, design, and construction phases.  Ability to read, interpret, analyze development plans, drawings, studies, and similar technical documents.  Strong public engagement and consensus-building experience, especially involving stakeholders with diverse interests and opinions.  Experience in collaborative team-based approach to reviewing and following projects, in both leading and supporting roles, involving planners, designers, engineers, and other professional disciplines.  

Position requires high levels of organization, documentation, time-management, customer service, integrity, and attention to detail.  Strong project management skills and demonstrated ability to manage multiple responsibilities, tasks, and interactions while remaining organized in a fast-paced office environment.  The Town Planner should be ready to help the Land Use Management Department to conduct high-quality planning and zoning efforts for the Town of Westford, and to help ensure the transparency and efficiency of the overall permitting process.

Education, Training, Special Licensure/Certification Requirements:
A Bachelor’s Degree in Planning or a related field is required; Master's Degree preferred. AICP certification desirable.  Must have a valid driver’s license.

Contacts (boards & committees, vendors, general public, etc.):
Communicates with the Planning Board, Select Board, Conservation Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Master Plan Committee, Master Plan Implementation Committee, Community Preservation Committee, Affordable Housing Committee, town departments, attorneys, contractors, engineers, surveyors, vendors, and the general public.
Supervisory Responsibility (Include Positions Supervised): None.

Responsibility for Operating Budget: N/A

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