Search is on for replacement after town planner resigns

Nov 16, 2021

The search is on for a new town planner. 

Seven applications have already been received for the position, according to Planning Board Chair Kevin Melo. Interviews will be scheduled in the near future, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said.

The new hire will replace outgoing Planning Director Christine O’Grady, who resigned from the position to take a new post in Rhode Island. Her last day was Nov. 5.

“I hope we can get somebody who is as good as [O’Grady] is,” Planning Board member Steve Taylor said.

O’Grady, a native of the Ocean State, will return to familiar grounds as the city planner in Newport, R.I., the position she previously held before starting in Dartmouth in 2019. A project she’s especially excited to tackle in her return to Newport is the realignment of the Pell Bridge which she said would “open up a number of acres in the city.”

“It’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” she said.

While excited for new opportunities, O’Grady said she enjoyed her time in town and working with the Planning Board.

“This is such a beautiful community with a lot of assets and a lot of potential,” she said.

During her tenure in Dartmouth, O’Grady oversaw the reformation of  the town’s Open Space Residential Development bylaw, which allows subdivision developers to build on smaller lots in exchange for preserving open space.

O’Grady said she was also responsible for bringing together various town departments including the Department of Public Works, Conservation Commission, police, and fire districts to provide input on proposals.

“Ultimately, we were all seeing the same plans instead of different things at different times,” she said. 

As the pandemic struck, O’Grady was especially proud to ensure all Planning Board meetings occurred virtually and that members were always up-to-date in a time when “so much development was going on.”

“They never lost a meeting or step,” she said. “Just the fact we were able to get [meetings] up and running was so incredible.”

While no longer officially part of the Planning Office, O’Grady will continue to provide consulting services for up to 12 hours per week as the town conducts its search for a replacement.

MacInnes said Planning Aide Malissa Rosanina will oversee operations in the Planning Office during the interim period.

Director of Development Cody Haddad will take over upcoming steps in developing and implementing a Master Plan with the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District.

Building Commissioner Joe Braga, along with MacInnes, will also provide assistance to the town’s Planning Office.

“We’ll certainly be able to keep the office moving,” MacInnes said.