Amherst development director going to Nashua

AMHERST – The town’s community development director has accepted a position with the city of Nashua.

Sarah Marchant is slated to leave her Amherst position on May 8 to transition to her new role as Nashua community development director.

Marchant said April 13 that Nashua aldermen are expected to consider her nomination for the job next week. If the board approves, she would start work in Nashua on May 20.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Sarah,” said Amherst Selectmen’s Chairman Dwight Brew in a phone interview. “Being a small town, Amherst can’t offer” her the range of opportunities and the scale of projects she will find in Nashua.

Marchant’s departure will mean the town is faced with replacing one more department head. Recreation Director Nancy McMillan retired last month and Fire Chief Mark Boynton is expected to resign soon, after being offered the post of fire chief for Townsend, Mass.

Marchant, who graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Hampshire and has a master’s degree in geography from the University of Connecticut, was hired as the town planner and Geographic Information System coordinator in Milford in 2005. She helped establish the town’s GIS system, which allows anyone with a computer to access property and assessing information, including aerial views, zoning and links to property maps.

She worked for the community for seven years before leaving in 2012 to accept a post as community development director and zoning administrator in Amherst. In that position, Marchant headed up the town’s building, code enforcement, planning, zoning and economic development departments. She helped research and revise the town’s fee schedule and worked to restart Amherst’s Capital Improvement Plan process. Marchant also helped the town secure more than $40,000 in grants to rewrite regulations regarding water resources.

In Nashua, Marchant would head up the Community Development Division, which encompasses the departments of building safety, planning, code enforcement, urban programs and transportation.

Marchant has served on the executive board of the New Hampshire Planners Association since 2007, and as president of the board for more than three years. The NHPA is comprised of 200 professional planners from around the state. She is a member of the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Board.

She said one of the benefits of working in a small community is that it helped her gain experience in a variety of departments.

“I really had kind of a great hands-on ability with that to really dive into any component of all those departments and functionality, so I think that that is something that will help the transition into Nashua,” she said.

Announcing Marchant’s transition last week, Amherst Town Administrator Jim O’Mara said Marchant led major advancements for the town and became a professional resource for municipal boards and commissions.

“She is leaving our Office of Community Development much better off than she found it,” Brew said in an announcement.

The Nashua position has remained vacant for months following the retirement last year of longtime development director Kathy Hersh. According to a notice about Nashua’s job opening that ran in a state government website in January, the position pays a salary of $94,605.