Murray to head Middlebury planning office

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday unanimously approved the hiring of Jennifer Murray, a senior conservation planner for the town of Williston, as Middlebury’s new director of planning and zoning. She will officially begin her duties on Aug. 31.
Murray has more than 15 years of experience as an environmental project manager and planner, both in Vermont and in rural upstate New York. In her cover letter, Murray professed particular interest in “community development in small rural towns.”
Her résumé shows she has been in her present job in Williston since this past January. Prior to that, she served as town planner in Jericho from November 2011 to 2015. Murray has also served as an engineering inspector with Burlington-based Engineering Ventures PC; as an office manager for Novus Engineering PC of Delmar, N.Y.; as a watershed planner for the Schoharie County Planning Agency of Cobleskill, N.Y.; and as an assistant planner with Lamont Engineers of Cobleskill. She began her professional career in 1997 as an environmental project manager with the Tyree Organization Ltd. of Latham, N.Y.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to apply my skills and experience as planning director in Middlebury,” Murray said on Wednesday morning. “All the commission and board members I have met so far have had a lot of positive enthusiasm and good questions and ideas — I am looking forward to working with them. As a planner, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work in a town where there is such a strong sense of place, and where people love where they live — that is a huge asset. I look forward to making a quality contribution to helping Middlebury stay ahead of the curve in terms of remaining one of the most desirable places to live, work and visit in the region.”
She added she was impressed while traveling around Middlebury during her job interview. She grew up in Cobleskill, N.Y., a small dairy-community-turned-bedroom-community about 45 minutes east of Albany.
“It’s getting back to a community similar to the one I grew up in,” she said.
“I decided long ago that I wanted to focus on rural community planning, and am enthusiastic about working in Addison County.”
Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay was pleased to welcome Murray to the town’s staff.
“Jennifer’s experience in the town planning piece and zoning piece was very appealing to us, along with her background in Vermont,” Ramsay said. She also touted Murray’s experience in grant writing and praised her communication and public presentation skills.
Middlebury Planning Commission Chairwoman Nancy Malcolm is also looking forward to working with Murray.
“We are most fortunate to have found an experienced planning and zoning director who comes with the added bonus of having worked in Vermont and, therefore, knowing Vermont regulations,” Malcolm said of Murray. “She struck all of us as someone who is ready to serve the community by helping us navigate the ins and outs of planning and permitting in a balanced, educated, fair manner. Her background includes natural resource planning, transportation planning, as well as neighborhood planning. We are all looking forward to having her on board.”
Murray holds an undergraduate degree in geology from Colgate University and a master’s in regional planning from the University at Albany in New York.
Her résumé also reflects her participation in a Route 15 park and ride study for the towns of Jericho, Underhill, Jeffersonville and Cambridge; the 2013-2014 update of Jericho’s transportation plan; recent accessibility improvements to Jericho’s public library; and a natural resources inventory project in 2013 for Jericho, Richmond, Bolton and Huntington.
Murray succeeds Ted Dunakin, who stepped down last month as director of planning and zoning in order to take a job as a maintenance project manager at Middlebury College.
Middlebury continues to operate without a town planner. Eric Blair left the position this past April to take a job with the Orton Foundation. Ramsay said town officials will re-evaluate the personnel needs of the planning office in the wake of Murray’s hiring. She noted Murray’s strong background in town planning could prove a catalyst for returning to a model of having the office led by the director of planning and zoning, who would oversee a zoning administrator’s position.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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