Total turnover for planning office

Town Planner Lee Nellis announces August departure

May 15, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Williston town Planning Department will look a lot different come late summer. Town Planner Lee Nellis will step down in August, while a new employee will take his place. And, according to Town Manager Rick McGuire, two people have accepted positions soon to be vacated by zoning employee D.K. Johnston and environmental planner Carrie Deegan.

Nellis, who said he's really leaving Williston this time after almost doing so a year ago, will move to Wisconsin to follow his wife as she pursues a doctorate degree in development and regional planning. McGuire said the town is currently accepting applications for Nellis' position and hopes to have it filled before August.

McGuire said Jessica Andreoletti, a natural resources conservationist for the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District in Williston, will start on May 20 in the new Planner One position, which will encompass much of Deegan's responsibilities.

Deegan is leaving at the end of the month to move with her husband to New Hampshire, but will be available on a consulting basis over the summer, McGuire said.

Matthew Boulanger will start on June 17 as assistant town planner, doing some of the work Johnston did before he resigned from that position last month. Boulanger comes from the Missoula County Rural Initiatives Department in Montana as an associate planner.

McGuire said all three new staffers will work on development review projects. He said the projects would be delegated to the individuals' expertise.

"It makes sense to divide up the parts instead of one person doing it all," he said.

Nellis says goodbye

Nellis said his four years with the planning office have flown by quickly. He's overseen the updates in growth center designation, new unified development and stream restorations in town.

He said much of the development work he's done has yet to become visible to Williston residents. This includes the planning for several hundred housing units and new commercial ventures currently in the works.

"As a result of these decisions, Williston is going to look a lot different in the next few years," he said.

Nellis said he would continue working for the town on a consulting basis, updating transportation impact fees and recreation impact fees, something he hasn't had the time to do.

Nellis was quick to praise the people he's worked with in the town offices and on various boards, calling them "energetic" and "hardworking," something he greatly appreciated. He said he and his family would also miss the friends they've made. Vermont would always be a special place, Nellis said, as it was the birthplace of his son, Henry.

"Williston is a great place to be," he said. "I think we'll miss the quieter pace of things."

New faces

Andreoletti is currently finishing her tenure at the Winooski conservation district, where she's worked for just over two years. Her primary work has been with the organization's urban conservation program, helping to reduce stormwater runoff. She said her work for the district would be very helpful in her new position.

"The most interesting thing to me is that Williston has a lot of open space and is developing quickly," she said. "I want to work with developers and make sure the land is developed correctly, environmentally speaking."

Andreoletti is a Connecticut native with family ties to Vermont. She attended Johnson State College for two years before moving to Washington state, where she got her bachelor's degree in environmental science from Evergreen State College.

Andreoletti is excited about her new position with the town.

"I could see myself doing the job for 25 years," she said. "This is something I've been working towards for a long time."

Boulanger, who grew up in nearby Monkton, currently focuses on rural land-use planning, as well as population, demographic and development trends in rural areas of Montana.

Boulanger said planning is done on the county level in Montana, since there are not many incorporated towns.

"Although the county is big, we spend a lot of time in the communities right on the edge of the city," he said. "They've seen significant growth in the last few years. And most of these communities don't have any zoning laws enacted yet."

As a result, Boulanger coordinated many community council meetings to get rural citizens engaged, he said. He tried to organize them in the New England-style town meetings he was used to from growing up.

Boulanger went to St. Lawrence University in New York, after which he volunteered for Americorps on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, helping with environmental planning. In 2005, he and his wife, Kate, decided to be "adventurous" and move West, where he took the planning job.

He said his job in Montana would be to Williston's benefit.

"My first hope is to hit the ground running and help the office as best I can," he said. "Basically, I want to come in and help with anything and everything."