Atkinson selectmen to consider changes
By Dustin Luca
The Eagle Tribune Sun Jun 22, 2014, 12:36 AM EDT
ATKINSON — Planning and Zoning Administrator Susan Killam has said she plans to retire, creating a chance for town officials to take a closer look at the Planning Department.
Killam has led the department for about four years and served on the Planning Board for more than 25. She is its current chairman.
She hopes to retire between 12 and 18 months from now, she said. With the window so far out, a date hasn’t been selected. She said she plans to remain a member of the board after she retires, Killam said.
Killam works about 15 hours a week on average, with office hours Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., she said.
It’s enough hours to “get enough paperwork done, to support the board and all the inspections,” Killam said.
Planning departments are handled differently from town to town. As town sizes change and development needs evolve, so do the demands on a department, she said.
“You walk into the Town Hall in Hampstead, and there’s a sign that says, ‘Assessing and Building Department,’” Killam said. “Here, assessing and building are completely separate, other than using the same computer database.”
Town officials are looking at the department to see how it could change, given Killam’s retirement is at least a year away.
“She has a wealth of knowledge and has been a great asset to the community and town officials,” Selectmen’s Chairman William Baldwin said. “The biggest challenge we’re going to have, really, is to quantify that position and make it to what it’s supposed to be.”
The Planning Board has six regular members with an ex-officio member from the Board of Selectmen and up to three alternates. They’re all appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The Planning Board appoints its own chairman.
Killam had no suggestions for changes that could be made, saying changes will depend on what’s going on around town.
“There isn’t anything big going on,” she said. “Development is so slow in Atkinson that we haven’t seen much.”
One area that could use more attention is the town’s industrial district, which Killam said is underutilized.
“We have a very small industrial zone,” Killam said. “There are vacant lots in the industrial zone that have been vacant since the early ‘90s.”
Selectmen haven’t talked about Killam’s retirement or changes to the department yet, Baldwin said.
But he said he could think of a couple tweaks that could be made.
Among them are increasing the pay and hours of the job to attract a stronger field of candidates when the time comes to hire for the position, he said.
“I don’t think we need to make it full-time,” Baldwin said, “but I think we need to make it more hours.”
Killam’s salary wasn’t available, Town Administrator Bill Innes said.
Selectmen will start discussions soon and Killam will play an important role in that, Baldwin said.
“She’s going to play an integral part in how we develop this office,” Baldwin said, “to what it needs to be — or to continue on with it — to make it a better service for our residents.”
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