Harpswell seeks help from firm led by former planner's husband

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HARPSWELL — Whether the town will hire a full-time planner again remains unknown four months after Carol Eyerman left to become assistant town planner in Topsham.

In the meantime, however, a company led by Eyerman’s husband is assuming the responsibility.

At a meeting June 16, members of various town committees expressed a range of views on the subject.

Planning Board members said they feel the lack of a planner, especially when it comes to determining how projects comply with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Several board members expressed dissatisfaction with the contract service being provided in the interim by the Midcoast Council of Governments.

Members of the Conservation Commission, in a letter to the Board of Selectmen, said “the quality and content of our work is being undermined by not having a full-time planner to assist us.”

Among other things, the planner discovered funding opportunities and coordinated the work of the town committees, the letter signed by all seven commission members said.

On June 25, selectmen sought another interim solution.

By a unanimous vote, they chose to begin a new, three-month contract with Planning Decisions at $100 an hour, versus the $60 an hour the town paid to MCOG.

Planning Decisions’ president, Mark Eyerman, is the husband of former Planner Carol Eyerman and has done contract work with the town before on developing the Mitchell Field Business District, according to Town Administrator Kristi Eiane.

Planning Decisions, which has offices in Portland, Brunswick, Hallowell and York, has a “good reputation,” Selectman Kevin Johnson said.

Selectmen also asked Eiane to review the job descriptions of town planners in other towns, like Phippsburg. All the selectmen agreed the job description needs to be updated.

Eiane on Wednesday said she is compiling a packet of other town’s planning and economic development positions for the July 9 selectmen’s meeting, and that selectmen are planning a workshop afterward.

Noting the economic growth the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority is fostering at nearby Brunswick Landing, selectmen Chairman Richard Daniels said there would be a need to consider about how housing will “spill over.” 

“When we go comparing ourselves to others, I find ourselves highly unique,” said  Daniels. “Good planning could keep it that way.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.