BERLIN - Berlin has a new town planner to go along with a new department.
Marek Kozikowski, who goes by Mark, began working as planner earlier this month. His title was created after Hellyn Riggins left last October.
Riggins’ title had been development services director, which included overseeing the Planning and Zoning and the Building Services departments. But with her departure came a reorganization of the department.
“They can be more independent,” said acting Town Manager Jack Healy about the Building Services Department, which now exists separate from the Planning and Zoning Department.
The building department will now report directly to Healy and the state.
Kozikowski said the new organization is common practice in other towns, and makes sense since building departments usually have to follow strict state statutes regarding building codes, while planning and zoning is more locally focused.
The 34-year-old South Windsor native comes from the Greenwich, where he was senior planner, just below the deputy director and director of the Planning Department.
Kozikowski said he wanted to make a jump in his career and find a job that didn’t require a 2 1/2-hour commute to and from Greenwich.
“It seemed like a place I was familiar with, without knowing much about it,” said Kozikowski of Berlin.
He said, aside from the high property values typical of Fairfield County, Greenwich has similar plans to Berlin.
Kozikowski said one of his goals in Berlin is to make sure the public interest is being served and any development being done is what Berlin residents want.
“It’s the residents’ and the business owners’ town,” said Kozikowski, who said he prides himself on customer service.
His interest in municipal government began when he completed administrative tasks part-time through high school in the Building Department at South Windsor as an office assistant.
From there, he continued working part-time while earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and geography degree from the University of Connecticut, graduating in 2004.
UConn is where his interest in planning was built, as the school was making major changes on campus.
He said he saw areas of the campus change from grassy hills to new academic buildings. “It was fun watching that, and that change.”
After getting his first “real job” as the assistant transportation planner at the Midstate Regional Planning Agency, in Middletown, Kozikowski went back to UConn for a master’s degree in economics, attained in 2006.
He got his master’s in public administration in 2009, two years after he began working in Greenwich.
Now that he’s in Berlin, the father of four said he is still settling in.
He said he is looking forward to evaluating how to best go forward with potential transit-oriented development on 889, 903 and 913 Farmington Ave.
“It’s a prime part of town,” said Kozikowski.
Healy said Kozikowski has asked some insightful questions and offered a fresh perspective during the process.
Even at his relatively young age, Kozikowski said he is not fazed by his new job and responsibilities. He said the town planner in West Hartford and Meriden are also in their 30s. Healy said he isn’t bothered by Kozikowski’s age either.
“I’m looking forward to working for the town of Berlin,” he said, with no plans of going anywhere else anytime soon.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.