Brookfield is looking for a new village planner after Elyse Vukelich, who has held that post for the past two years, ended her run with the village last week.
Vukelich, 29, is headed to Bend, Oregon, where she has been hired as that city’s assistant planner. She begins her new job Feb. 16 in Oregon’s sixth-largest city, a tourist haven at the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains.
“I’ve wanted to live out west for a while,” said Vukelich, who said she fell in love with Bend during a camping trip there last summer. “I saw that they were looking for a planner, so I applied.”
Although Vukelich has been in Brookfield a relatively short time, she has worked on a variety of projects, from implementing the village’s Zoning Modernization efforts to overhauling the sign code, nailing down zoning for adult-use cannabis businesses and shepherding the plan for a new Brookfield Public Library through the planning process.
She has been responsible for building permit reviews, responding to day-to-day zoning inquiries, reviewing planned developments and has worked closely with the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on a number of new development projects.
“Working with the Planning and Zoning Commission has been one of the best parts of this job,” Vukelich said. “It’s an intelligent, thoughtful, dynamic group of people. I’m really going to miss seeing them on a monthly basis.”
Vukelich has worked on a number of special projects during her tenure as planner, including the impending construction of a new Salt Creek canoe launch behind village hall, planned improvements to the Congress Park Metra station area and platform and the first phase of planning for the extension of the Des Plaines River Trail.
“I was busy the entire time I was here and got an opportunity to work on so many exciting things,” Vukelich said. “I can’t say enough good things about the staff and board here. There’s a really good market for village planners in Chicago, and I’m sure they’ll get a lot of good applicants.”
Mike Schwarz, the village’s community development director who oversees the planning department, said he will lead the search for Vukelich’s replacement. The plan, he said, is to post the job for two to three weeks and then immediately begin interviewing candidates.
Schwarz said he hoped a new planner could be place by the end of February. In the meantime, he will take on many of Vukelich’s duties, but he said if Vukelich had to pick a time to leave, this would be it.
“A lot of it is going to fall to me, but the silver lining is that this is a slower time of year for building permit activity,” Schwarz said. “It’ll start to ramp up in March, April and May.”
Schwarz agreed that Chicago is a good place to find ambitious junior planners, many of whom, like Vukelich, are graduates of the Master of Urban Planning program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Although Schwarz has worked with Vukelich for only the past five months, he said he was impressed with Vukelich’s work, including her willingness to take the lead on projects and work independently.
“We’re super happy for her but sad for us,” said Schwarz.