Topsham promotes assistant planner to department head

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TOPSHAM — Rod Melanson, the town’s assistant/natural resources planner since 2004, was unanimously hired Oct. 16 by the Board of Selectmen as planning director, a role he has filled this year in an interim capacity.

Melanson, who lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children, fills the position vacated in March by Rich Roedner, who replaced Cornell Knight as town manager.

“It did hit home, more so than I thought it would, in terms of really being welcomed and supported,” Melanson said Tuesday of the decision by Roedner and the board.

Melanson “has done an admirable job of … filling in for me when I was serving as (Topsham Local Redevelopment Authority) director, and in reality since I became town manager,” Roedner said Tuesday via email.

“I have seen his skills and talents develop over the past 10 years to the point where he was a clear choice to step in,” Roedner said. “Not only does he have the skills needed, but he has an understanding of the community, and the community has an understanding of Rod, and what I perceive to be trust in Rod.”

Melanson’s prior work experience includes time with the Friends of Midcoast Maine in Camden, the Maine Forest Service in Augusta, and the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset.

Since a collective bargaining agreement governs the position, the town first advertised the planner position in-house, Roedner explained.

“Rod was the only person who applied, and after reviewing his credentials and interviewing him, there was no need to look further,” the town manager said.

As far as filling the assistant planner position, Roedner said he and Melanson will meet to discuss that role, and what is required of it now versus a decade ago.

“We’re beginning to see much more activity than we were not even a couple years ago,” Melanson said. “It’s been busy; I’ve gained … even more knowledge in the past six months (as interim) of what the responsibilities are, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.