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12/14/2022 09:28 AM

Abby Piersall: Helping Make Plans for Clinton

Abby Piersall is Clinton’s new town planner. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Growing up in neighboring Madison, Abby Piersall says she was curious about Clinton.

“Growing up right next door, I always thought Clinton had a lot of strong qualities,” Abby says. “I think there is tremendous opportunity here.”

As Clinton's newly hired Town Planner, Abby knows a thing or two about opportunities.

“My job is to see what goals the community has set and then help hit them,” she says.

Officials and residents in Clinton had been discussing adding a full-time planner for a number of years, and the Town Council finally added the position as part of the 2022 budget.

Under the official job description, Abby is responsible for “directing the planning, zoning, inland wetlands, zoning enforcement, and land use regulation compliance and the coordination of land use development plans and administration of the Clinton Plan of Conservation and Development.”

“The great thing about is it can change day to day,” Abby explains, adding that one day she could be meeting with a landowner to talk about subdivisions and business ideas, and the next she could be working on the plan of conservation and development. “The plan is really what kind of sets the tone for the town."

Abby’s hiring was announced earlier in the fall but she did not officially start in the role in Clinton until the first week of December. Since she’s new to Clinton, she is focusing on getting to know the town.

“Right now, it’s working on getting up to speed on the hot-button issues around town, looking at what I’m working on and where they are headed,” explains Abby.

Additionally, Abby says she’s working on getting to know the various land use boards as well as other members of the community.

“A lot of what I’m doing right now is just getting to know this fantastic team here in Clinton,” she says.

Prior to her hiring in Clinton, Abby worked in communities in Wyoming and Massachusetts. Most recently, she served as a planner for Waterford.

"I like learning about what makes a community tick," Abby explains. "I see it as the intersection of community and place. ”

For example, Abby says questions like why one piece of land gets developed and what it gets developed into while another piece of land is considered untouchable are ones that interested her.

“I got interested in how community decisions get made,” Abby says. Abby explains that for each decision that is made there are effects on different levels. “It’s a big job to look at policy,” Abby sums up.

As much as she likes it, that’s not to say there aren't challenges for the job.

“We can’t make everyone happy every time,” Abby concedes. “There’s certain things where the regulations are what they are and we just have to say no,” Abby says.

Taking the job in Clinton near her hometown also has a big perk, Abby says.

“Coming to work in Clinton is like a big homecoming for me,” Abby says with a laugh. In her spare time, Abby says she can be found spending time with family, spending time at the beach, or just relaxing with a book.

"I’m excited to get out and meet folks in the community and if anyone has any questions there’s always an open door,” Abby says.