New Building Commissioner hired

Above: The Select Board spoke with the Building Commissioner finalist over zoom before approving his hiring this morning. (image from meeting video)

This morning, the Select Board voted to approve hiring a Building Commissioner to fill the position vacant since March 3rd. Casey Burlingame is expected to start work on April 24th.

Southborough’s Building Commissioner is both the Town’s building inspector and zoning enforcement officer. Multiple Select Board members appreciated Burlingame’s experience in both, including a background working in construction before working his way up the ranks in municipal jobs. Lisa Braccio also highlighted his experience in other small towns.

Burlingame has been working as Lunenburg’s Building Commissioner. (Based on my googling, other municipalities for which he has worked include Southbridge, Brimfield, and Worcester.) Although the Select Board referenced his resume, the meeting packet only included a memo which summarized his experience as:

His municipal experience as a Building Inspector/Commissioner began in February of 2015. Most recently he has served as the Building Commissioner for the Town of Lunenburg. As a certified Building Commissioner in Massachusetts for 5+ years, he brings an excellent skill set in commercial and residential inspections, plan review, zoning determinations & enforcement, and departmental emergency management.

Burlingame accepted the offer, telling the Board that he was grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to the new position.

In a meeting that followed the Select Board’s, the Personnel Board voted to approve the salary ($104K) and vacation (3 weeks) offered. In the Personnel meeting, Town Administrator Mark Purple highlighted that it is currently a tough environment for recruiting Building Commissioners.

The hiring recommendation memo didn’t include the number of applicants, but did provide an overview of the interview process. Interviewers included the Conservation Agent, Town Planner, Finance Director, and member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. There was also “a site visit with the assistance of staff in the Building Department and a driving tour” with the Assessor. (You can read the full memo here.)

In the Select Board’s meeting, two members offered perspectives as former members of the ZBA.

Sam Stivers warned that he finds Southborough’s zoning codes to be “byzantine”. He stressed that Town Counsel is readily available to help with interpretation. Stivers also noted that he felt that zoning enforcement has sometimes been too lax in Southborough and he’d like to see more enforcement. He followed that the tricky balance is not by being too heavy handed given the need to support local businesses. Andrew Dennington said that a really good Building Commissioner is an asset to the Town and ZBA. He believes Burlingame can offer value by having experience in how zoning violations are forced in other towns and situations.

The future commissioner acknowledged that he will have to learn Southborough’s zoning bylaws.

Member Chelsea Malinowski raised to Burlingame’s attention that Southborough passed a lighting bylaw a few years ago. He stated that he hadn’t worked with one before but had experience enforcing lighting requirements within other bylaws and in conditions of Planning Board approvals.

The Town began recruiting for the position in February after learning that the former Building Commissioner, Laurie Livoli, would be retiring. Livoli’s last day was March 3rd. During the gap period, the Town planned to leverage Local Inspector, Raymond Matte, to help fill the void. Matte is the former Building Commissioner for Concord. In the fall, he took the Southborough inspector job as a post-retirement part-time position.

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