MERIDEN — Enrico Buccilli has resigned from the city’s Planning Commission after 25 years, including 16 as chairman.
Buccilli said he felt it was time to step aside and allow someone else to serve on the Planning Commission, which has five voting members and three alternates.
“You kind of know when it’s time to move on and let somebody else have an opportunity,” Buccilli, 69, said in a phone interview Tuesday. His resignation became effective July 15, according to a resignation letter submitted to city leadership.
Buccilli originally planned to retire at the end of last year but decided to stay until the passage of the city’s new 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development, which was adopted in February. He also wanted to wait for a settlement to be reached in a lawsuit filed last year against the commission by a local mosque whose application to relocate to Research Parkway was denied in March 2019. As part of a pending settlement agreement just approved by the City Council, Meriden has agreed to reverse the commission’s 2019 decision and pay up to $45,000 in damages.
“I don’t like to leave unfinished business,” Buccilli said.
Buccilli wrote in his resignation letter that he’s proud to be a part of some “extremely important developments” in the city during his 25 years, including MidState Medical Center, Stop and Shop on East Main Street, the Meriden Green, and other flood control and transit-oriented development projects.
City Planner Renata Bertotti called Buccilli’s resignation a “huge, huge loss” for the commission.
“He was excellent and very even-keeled,” Bertotti said. Soon after Bertotti was hired as planning director in late 2018, Buccilli confided in her that he was thinking about stepping down. But Buccilli ultimately decided to stay on to help Bertotti navigate the Plan of Conservation and Development adoption process.
“I will forever appreciate him and be so grateful that he did that because it was a big project, and he was so essential,” Bertotti said.
Buccilli is a retired educator who started his career as a teacher at Washington Middle School in Meriden and later worked 18 years as principal of Dag Hammarskjold Middle School in Wallingford. He was compelled to join the commission by dissatisfaction with the city’s direction 25 years ago.
“I said to myself, ‘Stop complaining and be a part of the process,’” Buccilli, a registered Democrat, said. He decided to get involved with the Planning Commission because he felt it’s one of the most important boards or commissions in the city. He was elected chairman in 2004, replacing Roger DeZinno, after serving as vice chair, according to archived Record-Journal stories.
Buccilli approached commission meetings similarly to his job as a principal in that he wanted all parties to have their voice heard while also maintaining civility and respect, he said.
“I’m very proud of the way the Planning Commission has operated under my leadership … All my decisions were driven by what is best for the city of Meriden,” he said. “I’m not a developer, I’m not anyone with any business interests. All I wanted to do was what’s best for the city where I live.”
Bertotti said the work required from land use board and commission members often goes overlooked.
“I think it’s really underappreciated just how much volunteerism and how much good-intentioned civic work is done by these volunteer members,” she said. “That service is really invaluable, and I wish the community would understand that.”
The Planning Commission hasn’t held a meeting since Buccilli’s resignation took effect. Berotti said the commission could choose to formally elect a new chair at an upcoming meeting, or just have vice chair Laura Uhrig serve as acting chair until the commission's next officer elections scheduled for April.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who is responsible for appointing someone to fill Buccilli’s vacancy, said discussions about finding a replacement have begun. Scarpati said he’d prefer to promote one of the commission’s three alternates — Kevin Curry, David Cooley and Tristan Shields — to fill Bucciilii’s spot as a regular voting member and then fill the alternate opening with a newcomer. But he said appointing a newcomer to directly fill Buccilli’s commission seat is also an option.
The commission’s remaining four regular members are Ross Gulino, Lenny Rich, Steve Iovanna, and Uhrig.