Sue Fillion promoted to planning director

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BRATTLEBORO — A longtime town planner says she is "very excited" about getting promoted to planning director.

"I've been working here for nine years," Sue Fillion told the Reformer. "So I feel like I have a good grasp for the projects that are going on and the direction of the community."

Fillion took over Friday after Rod Francis left the position to become director of planning and zoning with the town of Norwich. Francis had been planning director in Brattleboro for more than 10 years.

Fillion and Francis worked together as planners at the Windham Regional Commission before taking jobs with the town of Brattleboro.

Town Manager Peter Elwell called Fillion "the lead staff person both for our award-winning town plan in 2013 and for the outstanding update of our land-use regulations in 2015."

"We are fortunate to have someone so capable right here on our team and ready to provide a smooth transition," Elwell said in a press release. "She is smart, effective and an excellent representative of the town in our relationships with other organizations and officials."

Fillion said she feels like the planning department is in "a really good place" given the updates to the town plan and land-use regulations. Now, she is looking to review the regulations and make minor tweaks where needed.

"We've been working with them for about three-and-a-half years now," she said. "So it's time to just kinda take a look at them and see where there are issues and where they need to be adjusted."

That will be among the first things Fillion will do with the Planning Commission. She also will be running the town's Brownfields Program where she can help property owners get environmental assessments before land switches hands.

Fillion is encouraging residents to volunteer for groups that work with her office such as the Conservation Commission, the Development Review Board and the Planning Commission. She said she is happy to talk with people who are interested.

Fillion also will continue working on a floodplain restoration project at 250 Birge St. Formerly owned by Cersosimo Lumber Company, it now belongs to the Vermont River Conservancy.

The land has been elevated to take it out of a flood zone. Fill will now be removed "so that when flooding occurs it can provide some relief to downtown," said Fillion, and the project will "bring some public use with passive recreation."

The position she vacated will not be filled. The department has been reduced to a three-person team, including a clerk and a zoning administrator. Fillion expects to use consultants when needed.

Her appointment came after Elwell consulted with the Select Board. He interviewed Fillion with a panel made up of Select Board Chairwoman Kate O'Connor, Planning Commission Chairwoman Liz McLoughlin and DRB Chairman James Valente. Panel members were unanimous in their support for Fillion's promotion, according to the press release.

Fillion earned a degree in geography with honors at Keene, N.H, State College and served as assistant planner for the town of Merrimack, N.H., for three years before working at the WRC for six years. She grew up in Connecticut but visited the area annually since the age of 3.

"We camped at the Dummerston KOA every year since 1978," she said, referring to Kampgrounds of America. "So it's kind of funny I ended up here."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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