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Merrimack’s new planning administrator sees bright future for development

Union Leader Correspondent

May 20. 2014 10:22PM

MERRIMACK — The town’s new planning and zoning administrator says she is ready and excited to help Merrimack move forward and prepare for future economic development projects. “There are a lot of development opportunities along the (Daniel Webster Highway) corridor and the airport access road. I think there is going to be a lot of interest in that area,” Jillian Harris said on Tuesday.

Harris began her duties as the town’s planning and zoning administrator on May 5, replacing Nancy Larson who is now a city planner in Concord.

Harris had been a senior planner at the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, where she worked for nearly six years.

While there are some undisclosed projects in the works, Harris said it is too premature to discuss those initiatives.

“Our focus, and our challenge, will be to balance the economic development that is needed with what is wanted by the residents that live here to make sure that we plan accordingly so that everything works well in the long run,” she said.

Harris, who was introduced to the Merrimack Planning Board on Tuesday, has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado at Denver. She also has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management from the California Polytechnic State University.

“I know this area well, and I am looking forward to working with everyone here,” said Harris.

Part of her duties include providing technical and administrative staff assistance to the town’s community development director, the Merrimack Planning Board and the local zoning board. Her priority is to work with the Planning and Zoning Division to develop a comprehensive plan and implement the town’s ordinances for the orderly growth of Merrimack, according to the job description.

With about 25,000 residents, Merrimack was named one of the best places to live in America in 2013 by Money Magazine, which mentioned the town’s increase in jobs and tourism because of the Merrimack Premium Outlets. Harris’ predecessor, Larson, held the position of planning and zoning administrator for about six years.

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