Richard Baldelli named director of planning and zoning

Ridgefield’s Planning and Zoning Department has a new director, and it’s someone with a familiar face.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Baldelli was appointed to the director position Tuesday night. He has served the department for 30 years.

“The commission came to believe that, at this point in the town’s history, we are more in need of a land-use administrator than a [town] planner,” said P&Z Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti Wednesday, May 3.

“With that perspective, we recognized that no one in town knows the zoning regulations better than Richard, and approached him to see if he would be interested in the position.”

Baldelli, in his new role, will be filling the vacancy left by former Town Planner Joan Meder, who resigned in February after she was hired last summer; however, he will not be taking on the title of town planner, Mucchetti said.  

As director, Baldelli will still be performing his responsibilities as zoning enforcement officer.

Mucchetti said Bethel and Redding have gone in the same direction — opting for department directors rather than town planners.

“Between the 60s and 80s, we had lots of submissions and large development projects where a planning professional would be a valuable asset to the town,” she said.

“At this point, we’re looking mostly at redevelopment. What we really need is somebody who has a deep understanding of town regulations to help us get the best result out of the opportunities that come before us.”

The commission received six applications and interviewed two candidates, Mucchetti told The Press.

“When we started the process, this was not the anticipated outcome,” she said at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“My goal is always the end result — doing what’s correct,” Baldelli told the commission. “And I’m going to do everything I can to make you feel good about the decision.”