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New Haven to seek new zoning/town administrator

NEW HAVEN — New Haven will soon be in the market for a new zoning/town administrator.

Aaron Brown, the town’s current ZA/TA informed the selectboard last month that he’s planning to resign in the near future in order to pursue other opportunities.

Brown is the first person to hold the ZA/TA position, which was created in 2019, and he feels like he has accomplished what he set out to do in the job, he told the Independent Tuesday.

“My time with New Haven has been rewarding,” he said in an email. “I am fortunate that I got to work with many talented volunteers and town staff to update the town plan, implement numerous energy projects, a significant flood response, a multi-town bike path, and a major culvert replacement at Beaver Brook, to name a few projects.”

He hasn’t set his departure date yet, but he will likely stay on until the end of September, he said. During his final weeks he hopes to accomplish a number of tasks, including the revision of New Haven’s zoning bylaws.

Brown began his work for the town under somewhat challenging circumstances.

New Haven had had three zoning administrators in the two years prior to Brown’s arrival. The selectboard, hoping more robust compensation would reduce turnover, proposed combining the duties of a ZA with those of a town administrator.

But Jim Walsh, who was on the selectboard at the time, vehemently opposed the idea on fiscal grounds and waged a public campaign against it.

The position was created anyway, but the conflict was still fresh when Brown became the town’s first ZA/TA in July 2019.

Six months later, during an incident Brown deemed serious enough to report to the Vermont State Police, Walsh allegedly made a number of threatening and inappropriate comments to town office staff, including Brown, whom he allegedly threatened to have fired.

Walsh, who told the Independent the incident was “the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding,” was eventually censured by the selectboard and lost his bid for re-election this past March.

Current selectboard chair John Roleau spoke highly of Brown.

“I’ve gotten along with him great,” Roleau said Tuesday. “He’s really stepped up and helped us grow and fine-tune our town structure.”

Roleau is also thankful Brown will stick around for a while to help pave the way for his successor, he added.

Looking ahead, Brown plans to work as a consultant for a previous employer, Vital Communities, a nonprofit focused on various sustainability and civic engagement projects.

He’s also working on an “ambient/electronic dance audio-visual symphony” that uses early-20th-century spoken word, music and video samples, along with original music, to explore the theme of economic privilege in the 1930s and today.

When New Haven posts the ZA/TA position it’s likely to appear, among other places, on the Job Opportunities tab of the town website, tinyurl.com/95xzjuks.

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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