WALLINGFORD — Town Planner Kacie Hand will step down at the end of the month after 12 years in the planning office, leaving a legacy of zoning initiatives aimed at reinvigorating downtown.
She spearheaded the most recent revision the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development—which is revised every 10 years— beginning in 2015 and completed in 2016. She also worked to establish the Incentive Housing Zone in 2014, Transit-Oriented Development Plan in 2016 and Town Center Zone in 2018.
Hand announced her departure during Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, saying she intends to stay home with her infant daughter.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Hand said. “I really enjoyed working for the town and … I feel like I’ve been really fortunate to get to work for a commission that’s so professional and so thoughtful in their actions and their decisions.”
Hand left on maternity leave on March 11, the day her daughter was born, and returned part-time in the beginning of July. Tom Talbot, a former Wallingford assistant town planner, has been filling in for Hand.
Hand was hired in December 2012 after serving as acting town planner since March of that year and as assistant town planner for four years prior.
The town Human Resources department has already posted the position and closed the application period. Calls for additional information on the search for a new town planner were not returned.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Jim Seichter, who always insisted that she be referred to as “Mrs. Hand” during meetings, said Monday that Hand was approachable, knowledgeable and showed a willingness to work with applicants.
Tim Ryan, the town’s economic development specialist, said that as an open-minded town planner who was willing to engage in discussion about business opportunities, Hand is someone the town should “replicate” instead of replace.
“She’s just been fantastic to work with,” Ryan said. “She involved economic development in most all of the zoning regulation updates,” and there are several businesses in town that would not be here without her understanding of how the zoning regulations should be applied.
He cited Ferti Technologies, a fertilizer blending plant at 155 East St. that brought about 40 jobs, and Radiall USA, a manufacturer of components for the aviation, space, defense and medical industries at 777 Northrop Road that brought more than 80 jobs.
Hand also worked on relocating Davenport Associates from 75 Parker St. to an expanded facility at 14 Fairfield Boulevard, which kept the company in town and cleared the way for the Parker Place Apartments to expand at the marketing and distribution company’s former site.
“She’s just such a credible individual with the highest integrity,” Ryan said. “We’re going to miss her a lot, but we are so happy for her. She’s making a great life decision, being a stay-at-home mom.”