By Kaitlyn Naples
After five-and-a-half years as Plainville’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, Mark DeVoe is headed to Southington to take the lead as director of Planning and Community Development.
“The position is basically responsible for taking development from the cradle to the grave,” Southington Town Manager Gary Brumback said, adding that the position is a result of consolidating the Planning and Building departments.
DeVoe was one of 30 applicants chosen for the position, and said he is looking forward to bringing his practices and attitude into this new venture where he hopes to be “a strategic planner who helps the town focus on long-term development.”
The position of leading Planning and Economic Development in Plainville allowed DeVoe to work with businesses from an economic development approach, but also help them to find incentives, and work through issues of constructing a facility or relocating.
“I always felt it was important to treat applicants fairly, and treat them the way I would want to be treated,” he said, adding that he will continue to work this way in Southington.
DeVoe said he is proud of the way Plainville has been handling economic development over the past five years and has been able to retain business in town, especially Gem Sensors and Controls. A few years ago, Gem was looking to open up another spot in town to move its machine shop. DeVoe said he showed the company several properties that were available in town, however none were suitable enough. He had to begin referring the company to other towns in the area, “because I still wanted them to succeed and maintain a business edge.”
DeVoe eventually asked the company if they had ever considered adding on to its existing facility. The company ultimately was able to add 20,000 square feet plus parking to its existing facility and also received a tax incentive on the new structure, and was able to stay in Plainville.
“People who are in the economic development position, like me, need to be open and in the know and not just take a business into a town because it will grow the grand list,” DeVoe said, referring to companies that find a vacant piece of property in a town that isn’t going to meet its needs and could potentially shut down in a year.
Recently, the town received grants that allowed it to purchase 14 homes in the Roberts Street Extension area, which is prone to flooding. Before this, Plainville developed a Low Impact Development plan that suggests different options to proactively decrease the flooding over time, and for the future in Plainville by taking different measures. This plan, DeVoe said, reduces impervious areas in town, slows runoff by using different landscaping features, prevents pollution, and more. For example, one staple method of getting rid of flooding is installing storm drains, which eventually dump into the closest body of water, like a river. With too much rain, this process can cause it to overflow. In this plan, suggestions like more porous cement are raised, which will allow the rainwater or melting snow to naturally seep back into the ground, and maintain the water table in the ground.
“This puts water back into the ground and makes sure flooding that happens today isn’t made worse in the future,” DeVoe said, adding that this will put water back in its natural state, because when it is overflowing it picks up pollution and litter along the way.
When he gets to Southington, DeVoe said he wants to bring this plan with him and try to implement it in that town to continue proactive measures to reduce flooding, which in Southington typically is caused by the Quinnipiac River.
Southington has an economic developer, and DeVoe said he is looking forward to working together and being able to provide the services he has provided to the town of Plainville.
“I know being treated fairly in Southington is important as well, and I fully intend to bring my attitudes and value of customer service with me,” said DeVoe, who started in Southington on July 8.
Southington Observer Editor Ed Harris contributed to this story.