Linda Blasch (Town Planner)
Welcome to Linda Blasch, Our New Town Planner
One advantage to Linda Blasch’s new job as Jericho’s Planning & Development Coordinator is her commute. She can walk from her Jericho Corners home to her office. While some people might be hesitant about taking a municipal job in their hometown, Blasch was willing to take that chance. “I’ve worked with people around the state and with many municipalities,” she said. “I felt that I had a skill set that would bring significant value to my town and that outweighed any potential negatives. I care about this community and its future.”
Prior to joining the staff at Town Hall, Blasch was a planner for the Northwest Regional Planning Commission in St. Albans, including two years as a Grants Manager. Before that she spent seven years as the Coordinator of the Better Roads Program, a non-profit which was taken over by the Vermont Agency of Transportation during her tenure. “My background is focused on natural resources, environmental conservation, and transportation,” she said. “I’ve also worked in water quality so that’s a comfort zone, as well.” Blasch noted that her background as a grants manager involved both grant writing and project management and she’s hoping to be able to use those skills to help her town.
Blasch is pleased with what she’s seen so far at the Planning and Zoning Office. “There have been a lot of good zoning changes recently,” she said, “including those intending to incentivize affordable housing through accessory dwelling units and planning for bicyclists and pedestrians.” Blasch likes the fact that the town has been investigating the potential for wastewater facilities in the village centers. “I think there is a good management of the balance between the village centers and the rural environment,” she said.
Blasch has lived in Vermont for 20 years with the last five of those in Jericho. One of the things that drew her family to the town was the availability of publicly accessible trails for walking and hiking. “I love that Jericho has a great combination of villages and access to open space right outside the village,” she said, noting that she can walk to Jericho Elementary School, the Old Red Mill, and Joe’s Snack Bar. She and her husband picked Jericho in part because it’s a midway point between Burlington and the mountains, but also because of the reputation of the school district.
In her spare time, Blasch enjoys downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, walking, hiking, and canoeing. Her artistic side is displayed in the round nature mandalas with radial symmetry which she creates using flower petals and leaves. In the summer she makes them outside, often at Old Red Mill Park, and usually leaves them there after taking a picture. “I wonder if people even see them,” she said. In the winter she makes her creations inside and occasionally buys cut flowers so she can continue in her preferred artistic medium.
Blasch said she is looking forward to working with the community, as well as the Planning Commission. “I hope we can identify planning priorities and strategies to manage the inevitable growth and change that Jericho will experience,” she said. “Jericho has a unique character and that’s something to be mindful of maintaining as best we can. Feedback from the Planning Commission’s first question of the month was clear that residents don't want Jericho to look like Williston or South Burlington, so that’s great information to start working with.”
She hasn’t been on the job long, but Blasch is already excited by the potential of her new position. An added benefit is getting to know residents she had never met before. She welcomes people to come to the office to say hello but if she’s busy there is an alternative way to learn more about her; a painting representing of one of her mandalas is hanging right behind the table in the conference room.