Lancaster hires planning director; fall town meeting in february

LANCASTER – After an extended vacancy, Lancaster finally has a new planning director.

Three finalists selected by the search committee were interviewed by the selection committee during their regular meeting on Monday, November 1, Jasmin Farinacci being chosen to fill the vacant position. The other finalists were Chris Sullivan and Marc Resnick.

Farinacci has been in the project for eight years. She started out in a civil engineering company and learned planning from the plaintiff’s side. She then ended up transforming an administrative position in Wareham into an “unofficial assistant to the planning director” before being hired in her current role in Bridgewater as a planning assistant. Additionally, she is currently studying at Arizona State University for a graduate degree in Urban Planning.

Lancaster is beautiful with lots of open space, Farinacci said, suggesting the town bring in functional green spaces with a small mixed-use development like in the village center with housing and small restaurants, as well as a mix of ‘green and residential infrastructure. She said she would encourage business growth in the small areas zoned for her and believes a 40R affordable housing development on the former Atlantic Union College campus would be innovative.

“Open space and green space are not the same thing,” Farinacci said.

Farinacci was instrumental in securing grants and recoding zoning.

Sullivan has been involved in various types of planning for 20 years in New Hampshire, most notably as an environmental planner and park planner. With a degree in landscape architecture, he designed swimming pools during the pandemic, but wants to return to planning.

Resnick has also quit planning for the past five to six years, taking a break from his decades-long planning career in municipalities like Foxboro, Salisbury and Brockton to pursue his childhood dream of knocking down houses.

After so many months of research, “I want them all,” Selectman Alix Turner said.

As she said she would be happy with any of the three, Turner chose to defer to her fellow Selectboard members and not vote.

While he said he would be happy to vote for one of them, Selectman Jason Allison said one of the candidates had split from the pack. He said Farinacci is aligning himself with creating the next Lancaster and working as a team.

Selectman Jay Moody also ranked Farinacci # 1, citing his “freshness and vibrancy”.

Farinacci said her main role is as a civil servant and that she has an “open door policy” to residents as well as to the boards and departments with which she will work.

“Don’t hesitate to call or email,” she said, encouraging people to stop by as well.

Town meeting

The fall town meeting will take place this winter.

Several public comments were against a special city meeting this fall as it was too cold to meet outdoors, but too risky to meet indoors during a pandemic.

However, Allison proposed a town hall meeting on February 15.

Turner said the Board of Health and SLCTV “played a vital role” in planning for recent city meetings and the Selectboard should make sure they can continue. She said the vote on DCAMM property may require a city meeting sooner.

“The board has to decide whether it is a board of action or inaction,” Allison said.

Although Moody said it was an issue they didn’t know where the town reunion would take place, he voted with Allison to set the February date.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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