GORHAM – Continuing its drive to lure business, Gorham has hired a British-born former Auburn official to fill the vacancy left when the town’s first zoning administrator retired in the spring.

David C.M. Galbraith, 46, has been on the Gorham job for a month now and he finds the community and Town Hall to his liking.

“It’s a neat community,” Galbraith said Tuesday in his Gorham Municipal Center office. “The atmosphere here is phenomenal.”

Galbraith is the administrator for the planning and code enforcement departments in addition to the town’s Economic Development Corp. Galbraith will promote, facilitate and coordinate planning, zoning and development activities for the town.

He previously had been director of Auburn’s Planning and Permitting Services. After a decade of service, Galbraith wrapped up his duties there in March 2010. He said his position was eliminated in a city budget cut.

“Gorham is very fortunate to have David Galbraith. David considers customer service as a No. 1 priority. He connects with the community and is an advocate for the citizen while maintaining the desires of the town,” said Laurie Smith, former assistant city manager in Auburn who is now Wiscasset town manager.

In Gorham, Galbraith, who began Sept. 12, succeeds Sandra Mowery who retired in April. Mowery was hired in 2009 after Gorham created the new position to enhance its business friendly posture.

Mowery developed online applications and posted information on the web to ease the approval process for developers and businesses moving to Gorham. She initiated the grant awarded to develop a walking trail along a former railroad bed from New Portland Road to Westbrook.

Galbraith praised his predecessor’s work.

“I want to dovetail on that,” Galbraith said.

“I’ve started reviewing some of her projects.”

He cited the University of Southern Maine campus, transportation access and natural resources as Gorham’s attractive features. He said the town has a lot of growth potential and pointed to recent proposals seeking development in South Gorham. “We’ve got a lot of open space,” Galbraith said. “All kinds of benefits.”

Galbraith lauded the character of the Gorham Village that has several landmarks.

“It’s got a beautiful downtown,” Galbraith said.

While the town’s population jumped up to 16,381, according to the 2010 census, “it’s got that small-town feel,” he said.

Galbraith will be busy in long-range planning for Gorham, reviewing the town’s comprehensive plan, last updated in 1994, and reviewing town ordinances to further streamline the permitting process for developers.

“Having a predictable process is key,” Galbraith said.

In attracting new business to town, Galbraith said, Tom Ellsworth, director of Gorham Economic Development Corp., works “beating the bushes” seeking potential businesses for Gorham.

Galbraith will work in a team effort with Ellsworth and Tom Poirier, town planner.

Ellsworth will direct an entity interested in Gorham to Galbraith, who will guide the applicant through the approval process. He aims “to make it smooth as possible” while still meeting town standards.

Galbraith said Poirier has been “really helpful” as he becomes accustomed to his new job and familiarity with the community.

Because of the economy, Galbraith said, development has dried up in many places, but things are happening in Gorham.

“There’s some folks we’ve been talking to,” Galbraith said without releasing any names.

Galbraith already has met for lunch with planning officials from surrounding communities, where he heard ideas shared about ordinance amendments.

Galbraith, who was born in London, came to the United States at age 7. He relocated to Maine 10 years ago from the Chicago, Ill., area where he served as a senior planner for a village. He also has previously served as a planner with the Chicago Transit Authority and was once a research analyst at the University of Illinois for the U.S. Department of Defense.

He has experience in banking and surveying. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois.

Galbraith, who is single, is engaged to marry. He has two daughters, ages 4 and 8, from a previous marriage.

He now lives in New Gloucester, but is looking to move to the Gorham vicinity. Galbraith said he loves Maine, with its skiing and beaches.

“It’s fabulous,” he said. “There’s so much to do.”

David C.M. Galbraith is on the job as Gorham’s zoning
administrator. (Staff photo by Robert Lowell)

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