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Raitt leaving Arlington to lead regional planning agency

Jenny Raitt, 2016Raitt

Jennifer Raitt, director of planning and community development since 2016, has accepted the position of executive director of Northern Middlesex Council of Governments, regional planning agency and metropolitan planning organization based in Lowell.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, who made the announcement, is leaving June 17. Raitt's last day is expected to be June 3.

“Jenny has been with the town for just over six years, and over the course of her tenure she and her team have produced a prodigious amount of plans, which have resulted in the implementation of substantial improvements throughout Arlington,” Chapdelaine said in a May 3 town news release.

“Her work on housing, climate, arts and culture, conservation, historic preservation, economic development and transportation will benefit Arlington for years to come. I am very grateful for her excellent work and service to the town.”

Award, criticism

The Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA) has presented its Open. Door Champion Award to Raitt and Chapdelaine, both now leaving. They were recognized for their leadership in creating Arlington’s Fair Housing Action Plan.

Housing initiatives have also made Raitt and her department a focus of criticism from some residents who disagree with their approaches. Critics include residents connected to Arlington Residents for Responsible Development

The citizen group's views continue to be expressed, and are expected to become more persistent, as discussion of zoning articles takes place during the current Town Meeting.

'Great memories'

Raitt commented in the release: "My time serving Arlington has been some of the most rewarding of my 25 years serving local and regional governments and organizations.

“I leave with many great memories and am proud of our collective work in planning and community development. I have been a strong advocate for planning and community development and know the power that local government plays in people’s lives. I’ll continue this work and more with an organization that works more broadly and with a range of communities.”  

The department oversees and institutes short- and long-range comprehensive planning and programs in Arlington related to planning, economic development, housing, arts-and-culture, conservation, urban renewal, land use and zoning, and transportation. It also oversees the Community Development Block Grant program and secures funding and ensures ongoing regulatory compliance in all practice areas. 

Initiatives

Raitt has overseen many planning initiatives since she accepted the role of director in January 2016. Some highlights include putting into effect these plans: 

  • The town's 2015 master plan,
  • Arts-and-culture,
  • Connect Arlington sustainable transportation,
  • Net-zero, and
  • Fair-housing and housing production (in 2016 and 2022).

Her department also:

  • Brought the Boston Rapid Transit bus priority lane in East Arlington,
  • Recodified the town's zoning bylaw ,
  • Instituted many zoning amendments,
  • Securing multiple grants,
  • Oversaw the renovations of Whittemore Park, Wellington Park and the new Community Center (formerly known as the Senior Center).  
3 to 6 months

The town will start the process immediately to hire a new director, which now pays $131,204 annually. The Lowell position pays from $150,000 to $175,000.

Asked about the time frame for filling this position, Caryn Molloy, human-resources director, responded May 4: "I estimate it will take three to six6 months."

Asked whether the town would seek an interim candidate, as is occuring with the town manager, before seeking a permanent one, she wrote: "We will soon be working through an interim plan."

YourArlington learned on April 26 that the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments had offered the job to Raitt, and Raitt confirmed that. Because the position was then under negotiation, the website's editor chose to await the conclusion of that process. 


May 3, 2022: Fair-housing plan spurs honors to Chapdelaine, Raitt
 
Jan. 7, 2016: New planning director serves Metropolitan Area Planning Council


This news summary was published Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

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