fbpx
13.4 C
Elmira
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Township makes hire to head planning dept

Mark Pomponi, most recently in Brant, will see many of the same issues land on his desk in Woolwich

TRENDING

Kitchener-Conestoga too close to call

With less than five percentage points separating the Conservatives and Liberals in the riding, Kitchener-Conestoga has become too close...

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta RebiszewskiFive candidates are vying for your vote in...

Community rallies to support teen diagnosed with leukemia

The community is rallying in support of an Elmira family coping with their son’s leukemia diagnosis, raising more...

Candidates make pitch to voters in Woolwich

Largely sticking to their respective party lines, the five candidates running in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding made their one all-candidates...
Steve Kannon
Steve Kannonhttps://www.observerxtra.com
A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

The players may be different, but the song remains the same for Mark Pomponi, who this month became Woolwich’s first director of development services.

An organizational review earlier this year saw the township divide the former engineering and planning services department into two parts. With the retirement in June of Dan Kennaley, Pomponi arrived from Brant County to head the planning aspects – planning issues, the building department and economic development and tourism. The engineering component, now infrastructure services, is now under the direction of Jared Puppe, an internal hire who was Woolwich’s acting manager of engineering.

Pomponi spent that past 16 years in Brant, most recently as general manager of development services, a role he says mirrors his new position in Woolwich.

“It’s exactly the same with the exception of economic development and tourism.”

He arrives in Woolwich as he did in Brant: hired by David Brenneman, who was director of community and development services in the County of Brant before arriving in 2007 to become Woolwich’s chief administrative officer.

“David hired me in Brant. We’ve kept in to touch, and I was always looking for an opportunity to work with David again,” said Pomponi.

Being familiar with his boss should help in the transition, he notes. While the planning issues will be similar, every municipality has its own unique population, history and culture with which to deal – getting to know them is part of settling into his new role.

A Hamilton native, his résumé includes previous stops in that city, Ancaster and Cambridge, the city he now calls home.

He’s been in the municipal planning field long enough to have seen its evolution over the past couple of decades, particularly the involvement of the province in local planning issues.

“There’s an increased provincial influence – they’re more involved,” said Pomponi. “There are more provincial policies that are mandated on local municipalities.”

Notably, the province requires higher densities and a greater variety of housing types, a blanket policy that does not spare rural or small municipalities that may have different outlooks from, say, Toronto or other urban centres.

While Premier Doug Ford is reviewing many of the restrictions added by the previous government, current policies such as the Places to Grow document have forced changes over the years.

While in Cambridge, for instance, Pomponi saw the average lot size drop dramatically when applications for new subdivisions came in.

“A 40-foot lot was a small lot; now you’re lucky to have a 40-foot lot,” he said by way of example.

Increased density, he notes, brings issues with traffic, parking, drainage and neighbourhood complaints. Municipalities then have to cope with those concerns.

There’s also a push for different forms of housing, particularly apartments and condos. He lands in Woolwich just as two controversial apartment projects are being proposed for Elmira, one on Church Street West and the other on Ernst Street, with neighbours unhappy with what’s proposed in both cases.

“The concerns aren’t unusual – they’re fairly typical,” he said, noting such infilling projects in existing neighbourhoods tend to draw the largest response from residents.

Equally controversial are gravel pit applications, a reality he’s no stranger to based on his previous role.

“Brant certainly had its share of gravel pits, with more coming,” he said.

Part of his transition into his new job will be getting a feel for how residents react to planning issues and how the municipality has traditionally dealt with such proposals.

Pomponi says he’s thankful for the experience of long-time senior planner Jeremy Vink and the help of John Scarfone, the former Woolwich manager of planning who retired last year, but who remains on in a part-time capacity.

“I certainly value the experience and knowledge that [they] bring. You can lean on them and draw on them.”

Brant has recently seen a plethora of development following many years of inactivity due to a lack of servicing, a situation that mirrors what happened in Woolwich more than a decade ago once sewer and water services became available after years of development being on hold.

Woolwich, however, has a slow-growth strategy, opting for a staging policy that Brant is now looking at, having previously opted against it.

“It’s a better way to manage it,” he said in praise of the township’s go-slow growth plan.

Now settling into his Woolwich role, Pomponi will be working to implement the changes suggested by the organization review, looking at the department’s processes and revenues.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted.By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Scaring up some Halloween fun in Elmira

Those in search of the Halloween spirit need look no further than the vibrant, spooky display at an Elmira heritage home, an experience that adds a charitable aspect into the mix.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Pa(i)r for the course

The EDSS girls’ and boys’ golf teams teed up a strong showing at the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA) regionals, and are...

A seamless transition for Paul Kalbfleisch

Twenty-two years after retiring, Paul Kalbfleisch is actually going through with it.After 32 years of teaching, Kalbfleisch putting away...

Sugar Kings double up on Stratford Warriors to continue hot streak

Home and away, it was a good weekend for the Elmira Sugar Kings as they twice bested the Stratford Warriors, extending their winning streak...

Woolwich prepares input to province on gravel pit policy

Woolwich is preparing its two cents as the province looks to overhaul the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). The township plans to submit comments during...
- Advertisement -