ELLSWORTH — The city will restructure its Planning Department in the coming months after failing to find a city planner to replace Michele Gagnon, who took a job as planning director in Bar Harbor in February.
“For various reasons,” said City Manager David Cole, “going to the outside hasn’t worked out.”
The move will consolidate two departments, Planning and Economic Development, the latter of which is now run by Economic Development Director Janna Richards, who previously worked as planning director in Bar Harbor.
“Where you can consolidate you should consolidate,” Cole said.
“Our assistant planner has done yeoman’s work,” said Cole, referring to Steve Fuller, who will become the staff planner. Richards, who has a master’s degree in urban planning, will act as Fuller’s supervisor and be “there to give policy guidance,” Cole said.
Richards was hired last year to succeed Micki Sumpter. Apart from her stint in Bar Harbor, she served as town planner in Orono and was assistant city planner in Ellsworth for two years.
Fuller previously worked as a reporter for The Ellsworth American and took the position as assistant city planner in 2017.
The move should save the city money, said Cole. “We do believe there will be some significant savings and we can certainly work within existing resources to make this work.”
“We just happen to have a head of economic development who knows planning as well,” Cole said.