200206ind SKPlanning

Kaela Gray, the new South Kingstown planning director, looks over plans for a rotary on Route 138 in town hall on Feb. 4.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The town of South Kingstown has chosen a new director of planning and recently named  Mickaela Gray, South Kingstown’s principal planner since 2017, to the post.

Gray began her duties as director on Dec. 16 and reports to Town Manager Robert Zarnetske.

After conducting a regional search throughout New England, Gray was chosen from a field of eight applicants and three finalists, according to Zarnetske’s office.

“Kaela cares. She cares about the community. She cares about the people who live here,” Zarnetske said. “And she cares about achieving the town’s goals for conservation and responsible development. We’re lucky to have her stepping up to take this leadership role.”

The director of planning works with several of the town’s boards and commissions, and is responsible for the coordinating and supervising the town’s planning department.

Gray’s duties include high level technical, administrative and professional planning work and  municipal policy development relating to land use and long-range community planning.

The director of planning also is responsible for the development, administration and implementation of the town’s long-range comprehensive planning efforts, its growth management program, community sustainability efforts and creating the department’s annual operating and capital budgets.

Gray had worked as principal planner for South Kingstown since May 2017.

In that time she’s demonstrated expertise in development review, comprehensive planning, zoning ordinance development, meeting facilitation, process management and garnering public input, Zarnetske said.

Gray, who works out of Town Hall, said her time working in the planning department has proven to be beneficial in her new role.

“I’ve been very lucky to spend two and a half years working as the principal planner in South Kingstown, and now, I look forward to serving as the director of planning,” Gray said.

The fundamental difference in the two positions, Gray said, is the focus of planning work completed. The principal planner position is focused primarily on the review of development applications before the town’s Planning Board.

The director of planning works to develop new ordinances and policies to support the town’s long-term vision and goals, she said.

Gray is busy overseeing several key initiatives related to planning.

“Currently, we are working to finalize adoption of the town’s Comprehensive Community Plan, an effort the town started nearly three years ago,” Gray said. “We also have an exciting project, SK Home Style, that is underway related to making sure our community has meaningful housing options for all of South Kingstown’s residents.”

Gray holds a bachelor’s degree in Science in Community Development and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont. Her previous planning experience started in 2014 while working for the Town of Lyndon and Village of Lyndonville. In 2016, she worked for the Northern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission.

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