Planning staffer moving on

John Adams takes job in Shelburne

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

Williston planning staffer John Adams is stepping down, marking the second time his position has turned over in about two years.

Adams, 25, will take a job with the town of Shelburne. His title will be Development Review Board administrator/enforcement officer, a position that involves enforcing zoning ordinances and overseeing board activities. Adams’ current job as development review planner entails a mix of clerical and professional planning work.

The new job comes with more responsibilities and higher pay, Adams said, acknowledging that both factors played a role in his decision to leave Williston.

The position pays better “and it’s a step up in terms of responsibilities as well,” he said.

Adams’ current job pays $17.14 an hour or $35,651 annually based on a 40-hour week. The Shelburne position pays $43,000, according to Shelburne Town Manager Paul Bohne.

During a Williston Planning Commission meeting last week, Town Planner Lee Nellis said the fact that the position has turned over twice in a relatively short period indicates that the town isn’t paying enough.

Nellis explained that young people like Adams working in a junior planning position can be expected to eventually move on. But he said the town could retain even ambitious employees for about two years if the pay was better.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said a recent compensation study commissioned by the town showed Adams’ position pays comparably to similar entry-level planning jobs in Vermont towns.

McGuire said the problem is a small town with a small staff offers few chances for promotion. He noted that other planning staffers who left Williston in recent years have moved up to higher-ranking positions.

Bohne said the problem of limited opportunities is common in small towns. “In order for someone to move up, someone has to leave,” he said.

The position Adams is leaving may be reconfigured, McGuire said, perhaps starting the new employee at a lower level of pay and responsibility to leave room for advancement. He said the opening would be advertised starting this week.

Adams began working for the town of Williston in September 2006. He holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Queen’s University in Canada. His predecessor was David Pesnichak, who was hired for the then-newly created position in 2005.

Adams said he will step down as a full-time employee Aug. 21 but will continue to work part-time in Williston and part-time in Shelburne for a while.