HARPSWELL — Carol Eyerman, who has led the town’s Planning Department for seven years, is leaving, but she isn’t going far.
Eyerman, who was hired as Harpswell’s town planner in 2007, has accepted a position as assistant town planner in Topsham. She expects to start in early March.
Eyerman on Wednesday said she decided to make the change primarily for lifestyle reasons. She and her husband plan to buy a condo in Topsham in the coming years, and she’d like to live closer to the office.
“My goal is to be able to walk to work,” Eyerman said.
In her tenure as planner, Eyerman has helped usher important changes, including an open space plan for the town and a marine business zone at Mitchell Field.
More recent initiatives, including a rewrite of the Comprehensive Plan, discussion of marine infrastructure at Mitchell Field, and contingency planning for sea level rise, are all in their infancy and ready for her replacement, Eyerman said.
Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said Eyerman places a strong emphasis on engaging the public in policy creation, through frequent communication and workshop sessions with stakeholders and town committees.
“I think she brings a lot to the process,” Eiane said. “The process can take a long time, but in the end, public participation will lead to better policy.”
Eyerman is no stranger to Topsham, which is part of the reason she was selected for the position, Topsham Town Manager Rich Roedner said.
In 2006-2007, Eyerman worked temporarily for Topsham when Roedner, then town planner, was occupied with a regional redevelopment plan triggered by the closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
“The people who were in the office when she worked there are largely still there,” Roedner said. “So there’s a high level of comfort with her in the office.”
Although specific tasks will be at the discretion of Town Planner Rod Melanson, Eyerman will likely be attached to several Topsham committees and may be involved in Topsham’s Comprehensive Plan update, Roedner said.
In the wake of Eyerman’s departure, Harpswell’s Board of Selectmen may review the role of town planner, Eiane said. A discussion of possible options, including contracting for some planning services, was scheduled for Jan. 29.
Eyerman said she will stay with the town to complete some unfinished projects, particularly 11 proposed ordinance amendments that may be headed to voters at Town Meeting on March 14, and a workshop on the Mitchell Field pier and boat launch scheduled for Feb. 10 at the town office.
“I didn’t want to leave Harpswell with all of those things in the pipeline,” Eyerman said.