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Career Story: Town Planner In A Small Municipality

Town Planner In A Small Municipality

Job Title: Director Of Planning & Building/ Assistant Zoning Enforcement Officer/ Special Constable

Type of Company: I work for a town in Connecticut.

Education: BS, Environmental Science, Southampton College of Long Island University •• MURP (Masters of Urban & Regional Planning), Ball State University

Previous Experience: I worked as a comprehensive planner for the city of Bridgeport (CT), a town planner and wetlands agent in Plainfield, CT and an assistant planner for the municipality where I currently work. I am now the Town Planner, though the job title was changed during a recent reorganization.

Job Tasks: The Director of Planning and Building helps to oversee the development of a community. The position also involves administrative duties such as department personnel issues, and adherence to federal, state and local laws. Working for a municipality is a public service job.

No two days are the same in municipal work. One day I could be reviewing a proposal for a new school building and the next day helping a family plan an addition to its home. Some days I spend most of my time enforcing regulations and ordinances, which can make people very angry. You have to use diplomacy when informing people that they cannot do certain things on their own property.

The job can be both rewarding and a bit frustrating, but as I said it is never dull. I get to work with the politicians who are the town's policy makers, as well as the town residents, developers, lawyers and the members of other town departments. Working for a municipality gives you a different perspective on many services and perks people normally take for granted.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit your Town Hall, be sure to ask a lot of questions and take a good look around. One day you may be working there.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I find the most rewarding part of my job to be the contact with so many different types of people. I enjoy the "customer service" aspect of my job, and in municipal government you can help in more ways than you can imagine. Some days just answering the simplest of questions for someone can make their day. The job can be very rewarding.

On the other hand, you have to make decisions that may not be well-liked. When this occurs, you have to be true to yourself and your principles, while also upholding the law. There are times when people yell and scream, but I consider it a challenge and "an art" to defuse their anger and explain why certain rules or laws wee enacted. Some days on the job can be quite challenging, while others are slow or repetitive.

Job Tips: Seek internships in public service jobs.

Computer technology will and does play a big part in society today. I should have taken more interest in this as I went through college,

Most importantly, keep an eye on the "big picture." Everything you do or decide has a "consequence." Here's a simple example of what I mean: if a parking lot were to be located on a different part of the property, customers would have to walk further and maybe on a slight hill. In wintry weather, there may be a falling hazard, due to the distance on an incline.

Additional Thoughts: I find the most common misconception about my job is that people think I am political. This is so not true. As a member of a land-use board, I am a non-political technical adviser. Politics is left to the legislative bodies.

While education can get you the basics, you must get into any job before you can really know. it.

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