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Portland town planner named Norwich city planner

Norwich – The longtime planner for the town of Portland will become the new Norwich city planner starting July 5, City Manager John Salomone announced Wednesday.

Deanna Rhodes, who has served as the top planning official in Portland since 2007 – the position title changed from land use administrator to town planner in 2014 – was selected from among 25 initial candidates and five finalists, Salomone said. She will receive a salary of $76,987 in Norwich.

Salomone cited Rhodes extensive experience with both planning and wetlands issues in Portland – a town on a riverbank with similar geography to Norwich – and her professional demeanor as reasons for her selection.

“She's very articulate,” Salomone said. “She'll be able to communicate well with the public on planning issues.”

Rhodes could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Rhodes was assistant town planner in Portland from July 2004 through April 2006, when she was named interim town planner. A year later, she was named the top land use administrator. She started her career as the zoning enforcement officer in Coventry in January 2001.

Norwich has been without a planner since Director of Planning and Development Peter Davis retired to become executive director for the Renaissance City Development Association in New London. The city has contracted for plan reviews since Davis' departure in early April.

In a budget-cutting move, Salomone decided not to fill Davis' planning director position and appoint a new city planner to oversee planning and wetlands issues. Community Development Director Gary Evans now serves as overseer of the several offices in the planning department building.

Evans served on the selection committee along with a planning consultant and an experienced planner from the region. Evans also said Rhodes' experience and personality stood out in the interviews.

“The final five were all excellent candidates with strong backgrounds,” Evans said. “We felt that Deanna was a good combination of knowledge, experience and personality that would match well with the department and the community.”


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