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New Windsor planning chief impresses

  • Ned Thomas.

Windsor's interim community development director has been on the job only two weeks, but he's already impressed his bosses at Town Hall.

His eye-catching resume didn't dampened expectations either.

A Fulbright scholar with a master's degree from Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Ned Thomas appears to have stepped smoothly into his new role as chief of the planning department.

“We were fortunate to find him,” said City Manager Linda Kelly.

“He's pretty sharp,” said Councilman Steve Allen. “He really impressed with how quickly he came up to speed.”

Thomas, 48, had to quickly familiarize himself with Bell Village, one of the biggest mixed-use projects proposed in Windsor's history.

More than five years in the making, the 387 residential units and shopping center came up for final approval last week. But council members were wrestling with how to keep the project moving forward without having to go back to the planning commission for more hearings on important design and building details.

Council members wanted to meet the deadline for Oliver's Market to be included.

Despite his newness, Thomas persuaded them he would be able to handle all the details with input from individual council members and planning commissioners and also act as a mediator with the developer if need be.

“He figured out ways to appease everybody that were logical and made sense,” said Mayor Bruce Okrepkie.

Thomas replaced Jim Bergman, who left in December on relatively sudden notice to take a job as the County of San Luis Obispo's director of planning and building.

Thomas was hired through a temporary agency that specializes in placing seasoned government professionals. Windsor pays the agency, MuniTemps, $107.50 per hour for his services. He does not receive benefits or retirement contributions from the town.

That could change if Thomas is given the position permanently, something he said he is open to if the job is offered.

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