Khara Dodds was appointed as the Director of Planning and Land Use Services, or more familiarly referred to as the “Town Planner”, for the City of Glastonbury in 2015. Prior to her current role she worked with the City of Hartford as the Planning Director for two years and the Town of Plymouth for over four years. Prior to moving to Connecticut in 2008, Khara was a Principal Planner for the Burlington County Office Economic Development and Regional Planning in New Jersey. She currently serves as the Treasurer for the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and a board member for Sustainable CT.
Khara was interviewed by HYPEster Amanda Trothier for HYPE's public office blog series. The series focuses on interviewing young professional public officials who were appointed and/or elected to their role.
What is your role for the City?
As Director of Planning and Land Use Services Khara manages the Department of Community Development for the Town of Glastonbury, which includes the divisions of Planning, Health, Fire Marshal, and Building. As head of the Planning Division, she oversees the coordination of planning initiatives in the Town, guiding the initiation of new projects pursuant to the Town’s vision, and providing direct technical support to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission.
Khara’s role consists of both micro and macro level management. On one hand she works day to day assisting with guiding property owners and developers on the requirements and expectations of their development proposals. She works closely with the Town Plan and Zoning Commission to bring successful projects to fruition that allow Glastonbury to continue to thrive.
On the other hand, she is responsible for the Plan of Conservation and Development, a vision for the community that is readopted every 10 years. This plan involves much public involvement. Public meetings are held to gain knowledge about the wants and needs of the community, which then help to guide the land use priorities for the coming decade.
How do you feel you’ve made a change?
In addition to working with her team to readopt the vision for the city, Khara has had the opportunity to see the transformation of industrial sites to mixed use development. She shares her enthusiasm and joy when highlighting the “little pockets of development that continue to happen” throughout Glastonbury. She has crafted a vision, formed relationships and is shaping her legacy on a day to day basis by working alongside boards, commissions and developers.
Where specifically can Young Professionals go to get more involved in your town?
If someone is interested in getting involved in local boards or commissions where they live, Khara says that you can first start by researching the town to find out how to get involved. The path to get involved can be different from one community to the next. You can start the research by reading the municipal website and/or talking to key staff members that work with the boards and commissions. If the board or commission has meetings that are open to the public, attend some of the meetings and find out if it is something you would be interested in. Most towns have many different types of commissions and boards so find out which ones cover topics that may interest you or that you may be passionate about. In Glastonbury, the way to get involved in a board or commission, often comes by way of recommendation from the town’s political party committees, so getting involved with Democratic or Republican Town Committees would be a good step forward. Staff members are also available to give you key insights into what the board or commission is all about and what their goals and objectives are. Khara said the commitment required for boards and commission varies. Some meet once a month, twice a month or on an “as needed” basis. Some positions require “homework” that may need to be done leading up to meetings.
Can interested HYPE members reach out to you about getting involved?
Being that Khara and her husband were once active members of HYPE, she is more than willing to take a phone call or email from a young professional interested in learning more about how to get involved in the City of Glastonbury. Contact her by email or by phone at 860-652-7515.