Portland planning director leaving for Yarmouth post

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PORTLAND — For 34 years, Planning Division Director Alex Jaegerman has helped shape the course of the city’s growth.

After June 25, he will shift his sights north to Yarmouth as the town’s new planning director.

Jaegerman’s departure is the latest in a year-long personnel exodus from City Hall.

City Manager Mark Rees, acting City Manager Sheila Hill-Christian, Health and Human Services Director Doug Gardner, and Finance Director Ellen Sanborn are among those who have left city jobs (Sanborn moved to the Portland School Department).

“I’ve been working in Portland for quite a long time,” Jaegerman said Monday. “I have an opportunity (in Yarmouth) and I feel like I could use a change and add another dimension to my career.”

Jaegerman will replace Vanessa Farr, who resigned in March to start a consulting business. The Yarmouth Town Council will vote Thursday on the appointment by Town Manager Nat Tupper.

“(Jaegerman’s) management style, team leadership and communication skills to find consensus among participants and work through conflicts to reach agreement, is paramount to Yarmouth,” Tupper said in a press release. “We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber here in Yarmouth.”

While he said he will miss the multiple facets of planning in Portland, Jaegerman said he is looking forward to tackling Yarmouth’s planning issues, which include land use on the U.S. Route 1 corridor and in the village center.

“I know about Yarmouth as a casual visitor more than I know about it from the inside out,” Jaegerman said, while expressing confidence his experience in urban and economic planning make him a good fit for the job.

In Portland, Jaegerman been part of the planning process aimed at invigorating India Street as a mixed-use neighborhood; efforts to narrow Spring Street from High to Center streets, while opening up new development opportunities; realigning Franklin Street for improved accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists, and possible “inclusionary” zoning that could create more affordable housing by mandating developers include a percentage of housing for people earning no more than the area median income.

Jaegerman said he is also pleased with progress in redeveloping Forest Avenue, with work near Exit 6 at Interstate 295 to improve the interchange, and in Woodford’s Corner.

The work in Woodford’s Corner will extend from the intersection with Woodford Street and Deering Avenue to Ocean Avenue, with plans to widen sidewalks, and add bicycle lanes and amenities.

“I can see beyond what is there and think it can become to the more focal point for the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said.

Jaegerman said helping to create a network of trails through the city, especially the Bayside Trail, wider rezoning work in Bayside, and the creation the the Arts District along Congress Street is work that has pleased him.

He said he sees city planning as a puzzle, with pieces put in place at different times.

“It is clear you can’t do everything at once,” he said. “The notion of complete streets is something we were doing before we were calling it that.”

Not all the rewards are large scale, he said, noting just the design of street lights in the Arts District helped make the area more distinctive.

Jaegerman said he is looking forward to planning on U.S. Route 1 and in Yarmouth’s open spaces. He also likes the “character-based” code used in portions of town to ensure development fits into its surroundings.

“(Yarmouth) has a wonderful little village center,” he said. “It has a lot of qualities and characteristics that are worth planning for.”

Although he decided it is time to move on, Jaegerman said he will miss his work in Portland.

“It has been a fun, rewarding and exciting time here,” he said.

Staff writer Kate Gardner contributed to this report. David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.