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A familiar face at Planning & Zoning Commission, former commission clerk Kathy King is taking over as Clinton’s new zoning enforcement officer. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Sitting on a couch in the lobby of Clinton Town Hall, Kathy King recalls how she got her start in working in land use: She saw a friend in the parking lot of the Old Saybrook Town Hall and made small talk with her. In conversation the friend told Kathy that she was at the Town Hall to clerk for a board meeting. She recommendeded that Kathy look into clerking as well.
Kathy took her advice and ended up doing just that in the land use office.
“It was my first foray into working again after being a stay at home mom,” Kathy says.
Kathy stuck with her new path and more than a decade later now finds herself as Clinton’s new fulltime zoning enforcement officer (ZEO).
Kathy was named the new ZEO and wetlands enforcement officer on Oct. 21. A ZEO works to provide enforcement on zoning and wetlands issues, as well as make regular reports to the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) and Inland Wetlands Commission.
As an example of the kinds of issues that a ZEO would work on, Kathy says to imagine if someone had a home in a residential zone but began housing several unregistered cars to do auto work that wasn’t allowed in the zone.
“You have to abide by the zoning,” Kathy says.
Another area a ZEO could be of use is in dealing with blight issues, which Kathy says can be a touchy subject because there could be complicating factors such as illness or a disability that contribute to a property getting out of control.
The enforcement role of a ZEO may conjure up images of a stern authority figure handing out punishments, but Kathy says she wants to be able to work with everyone to find a compromise.
“I want to want to be collaborative with the public and with applicants,” she says. “I think Clinton needs an established presence and I think it’s an honor to be in this position.”
As for areas of focus, Kathy says she wants to simplify the process in zoning and work to preserve Clinton’s marine areas.
“The shore is very important to those that grew up around here and it should be preserved,” Kathy says.
Kathy says she wants to maintain the balance of protecting the shoreline while also encouraging growth where possible.
Kathy will receive six months of training from the current interim ZEO, Mike D’Amato. Additionally, she has received certification from Connecticut Association of Zoning Enforcement Officials (CAZEO) and will attend further education opportunities through the association.
“Mike has been an incredible resource and I’m lucky to be able to work with him,” Kathy says.
By attending seminars given by the association, she will be able to stay up to date on the best practices and regulations that a ZEO needs to know.
“Working with CAZEO, they have a ton of experts so you really get a chance to catch up on things if something changes,” Kathy explains.
Kathy has worked in Clinton for over a year and a half as a land use technician.
That means Kathy is the person who makes sure the PZC has everything they need for their meetings, helps applicants make sure they’re prepared, and helps the public with any questions they may have.
“I really liked it; I’ve always been one of those people that likes to learn things,” she says.
Prior to coming to Clinton, Kathy spent almost 12 years working in the Old Saybrook Land Use Office. In her time there Kathy worked in the assessor’s office, with the fire marshal, planning and zoning, and the building office.
“I clerked pretty much every board or commission. It was a great time and I had a great relationship with everyone,” Kathy says.
Kathy still clerks for some boards in Westbrook and has been the Clinton PZC clerk at meetings. As she starts her new role as the ZEO, Kathy says she will transition out of being the Clinton PZC clerk.
“One of the neat things about clerking is because I’ve done everything under the sun, you can see the big picture under different lens and see the different perspectives on things,” she says.
Kath was born and raised in Old Saybrook where she still lives. Kathy graduated from Old Saybrook High School, where she says her local claim to fame was that she got to perform as Annie in the school’s production of the play Annie. Kathy graduated with a degree in sociology from Southern Connecticut State University. Kathy is a deacon at the First Church of Christ in Old Saybrook and also serves on the church’s social action team.
In her spare time Kathy says she likes to bake, do jazzercise, and spend time with her kids Jillian, Jonathan, and Brian.
Of her time working in Clinton, Kathy says, “I’ve received incredible support from my coworkers and the public has been great. It’s been a very positive experience and I like doing what I do.”
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