This week Planning & Zoning Director and Town Planner Katie DeLuca announced her plans to retire to California.
Though she sent in her official notice mid-July, the position was just posted on Monday. To ensure a smooth transition and seamless service to the Town, she has agreed to continue service through the end of the year while the town works to fill the position.
“It has been a very rewarding and fulfilling 23 years serving the Town and I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together,” DeLuca said. “Greenwich has not only been a wonderful place to grow up, but also a very rewarding place to work, and now I look forward to experiencing Greenwich from a new perspective.”
DeLuca moved to Greenwich from England at the age of eight. She graduated from Greenwich Academy and would go on to earn a Master’s Degree in geography from the University of Connecticut.
She joined Greenwich’s Planning and Zoning Department in 1999 in the position of Planner I and quickly rose through the ranks. Within a year, she was promoted to Planner II, and five years after that was promoted to Deputy Director.
In September 2014, after the Human Resources Dept reviewed 10 applications and referred three to the P&Z commission, the commission voted unanimously to have DeLuca succeed Diane Fox as P&Z director.
In her 23 years at P&Z, DeLuca acquired a deep institutional memory and encyclopedic knowledge of Building Zone Regulations. She is known for being even keeled and fair.
She added more women to the department and improved community outreach, inviting residents to countless workshops in addition to the bi-monthly public hearings that often extend into the early morning hours.
She worked with P&Z chairs Donald Heller, followed by Richard Maitland and currently with Margarita Alban, who joined the commission in 2006 and became chair in 2019.
“Katie’s skills and love for our community enabled her to make deep and lasting contributions for which the Commission is enormously grateful,” Alban said on Thursday.
Alban said that in her own work experience, DeLuca stood out among a handful of very gifted individuals who are able to motivate higher levels of performance in others.
At P&Z, DeLuca oversaw the streamlining of the application process to digital, and made the department extremely efficient, digitizing regulations, the zoning map, and online forms.
She guided her department through Covid, including the transition to remote work and Zoom meetings.
And P&Z is known for its long meetings.
For decades meetings started at 7:00pm and often lasted into the early morning hours at town hall. More recently, Zoom meetings have switched to an earlier start time of 4:00pm and mercifully concluding before midnight.
In addition to the steady stream of challenging applications, DeLuca oversaw the 2019 POCD, a huge undertaking that also incorporated a great deal of community feedback.
Toward that end, attendance at meetings has soared with Zoom, often with upwards of 100 people in attendance and dozens speaking out.
DeLuca’s tenure has paralleled the rising cost of land and shrinking amount of undeveloped parcels.
The maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) has become the de facto minimum.
Schools have run out of FAR. Affordable housing is scarcer.
Affordable housing has also become scarcer. Developers have started to make use of the state’s 1989 affordable housing statute 8-30g, which exempts them from local zoning regs as an incentive to include affordable units.
Her challenge, as with the commission’s, has been a balancing act that included a fresh look at 6-110, the town reg for workforce housing, as well as the Waterfront Business (WB) zone, particularly with proposals along the Mianus River in Cos Cob and the Byram River along South Water Street in Byram.
Other efforts have included revisions to the R6 zone, elimination of distance separation between establishments with liquor licenses, and both the expansion of outdoor dining prior to the pandemic and street dining during the pandemic.
Through it all, DeLuca has helped the community balance a love of the town and quality of living with the pressures of development, traffic congestion, scarce on street parking, maintenance of public facilities, and protection of the environment.
Former longtime P&Z chair Louisa Stone said she was grateful for all DeLuca has done for the town and hated to see her go.
“I have known Katie since she began at the Planning Department. She is an extraordinary Town Planner and extraordinary person. She works with everyone – the commission, the staff, and the public – with intelligence and good humor. Knowing the town and the law, she has helped shape the POCD and regulations to respond to development pressures and public needs.”