Siefert to take on new role with QDC

 SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- Town Manager Robert Zarnetske informed the town council on Monday night that Director of Planning Chelsea Siefert’s resignation has officially been accepted. 

Siefert submitted her formal letter of resignation on May 6, informing Zarnetske of her decision to take on the position of planning director with the Quonset Development Corporation. 

“The director of planning has let us know that she’s found employment that does not require her to spend her nights at meetings, and can, therefore, spend her nights with her kids,” Zarnetske said. “We’re going to be disappointed to see her go.”

“It’s a significant loss to the community,” he added. “She’s been a great addition to the team, but that resignation has been accepted.”

In her resignation letter, Siefert wrote that her “decision to leave the town of South Kingstown was not an easy one,” and she was grateful to have served the town, both as the principal planner and the director of planning. During this time, Siefert shared that she was grateful to have been involved in so many innovative policy projects.

“I have been inspired by the willingness of South Kingstown’s residents to advocate for more affordability in their housing choices, and it is clear that the important work begun by the Planning Board and the Affordable Housing Collaborative relative to allowing more, diverse housing typologies will result in a regulatory model for the entire state,” Siefert wrote. “I have been excited to see the shift occurring in Town Hall towards a customer-friendly, service-oriented environment, and I have been honored to assist the Planning Board in finding ways to improve the applicant’s experience while continuing to make decisions in the best interest of the community.”

Siefert’s last day in office will be Friday, July 5, which she hopes will be an “ample notice period” to allow the town to secure a new, “highly qualified candidate without placing an undue burden on the team within the Planning Department.” In her letter, Siefert took time to notice and thank Principal Planner Kaela Gray, GIS Administrator Carol Baker and Senior Planner Jason Parker for their support and public service to South Kingstown. 

In her new position, Siefert hopes to use her “talents to promote high-quality manufacturing, technological, and industrial development, creating jobs and actively enhancing the overall economic well-being of the State of Rhode Island.”

Siefert wrote that it was her “aim to make the transition as seamless as possible,” and welcomed the town to reach out to her if her expertise could be used in any way. 

Zarnetske said the town is still strategizing on how best to handle personnel in the department, but that it’s not perfectly clear to him on how the town will be advertising for a new director position.  

“We’re likely to ask the number two in the department to serve as the interim for quite some time,” he said.

In her letter of resignation, Siefert recognized Gray for her “calming demeanor,” ability “to handle conflict with grace,” and passion for “fairness in the review process.”

“Kaela cares deeply about balancing the rights of property owners with the interests of the town, and she has brought clarity and a high level of professionalism to the Planning Board’s development review process,” Siefert wrote.


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