Rocky Hill official reflects on more than 30 years of service

By Katie Wagner, Staff Writer
   ROCKY HILL — A 80-year-old resident who’s devoted more than 30 years of service as a borough employee will be leaving his post as zoning officer next week.
   ”I think what I’m going to miss most of all is the small-town flavor and the fact that we know almost everyone in town, generally, on a first-name basis,” Larry Raffaelli said.
   Over the past 31 years, Mr. Raffaelli has served in several municipal positions, including construction official, building inspector and zoning officer.
   He started in 1976 when the borough was looking for a construction official. Mr. Raffaelli had already gained construction experience working as an engineer.
   ”I took the job because I thought I could provide the kind of help the town needed,” he said.
   As zoning officer since 1991, Mr. Raffaelli helped applicants for construction permits understand the borough code and the steps required to get their applications to the Planning Board.
   ”I would say I didn’t want them going out and hiring an attorney, architect and engineer, if I could help them,” he said. “It was only during those times when it looked like they could get themselves into trouble that I would say, ‘Oh, you better get yourself an architect and attorney.’”
   He added, “I think the most important thing is that the public doesn’t spend any money they don’t need to spend to make a public presentation. I believe we should help people get applications in, then if they have serious questions they can hire professionals.”
   Working one-on-one with applicants as a zoning officer is only a small part of the job that earned Mr. Raffaelli only $6,000 this year. He tours the community regularly, checking to make sure property owners are following a very specific set of rules. He also makes presentations to the Planning Board on applications.
   As borough construction official and building inspector — two positions he held until the state took them over a few years ago — Mr. Raffaelli earned even less money per year.
   ”When you’re paid $1,000 a year to work a monster amount of time, you know you didn’t take it for the money. You sure couldn’t take it for the glory either. If you’re going to hate one guy in town, it’s the construction official,” Mr. Raffaelli said.
   Nonetheless, Mr. Raffaelli said he’s happy to have worked for the borough.
   Mayor Ed Zimmerman and Borough Council members said they’re really going to miss Mr. Raffaelli.
   ”It’s going to be tough without him, He’s a very big part of this community,” Mayor Zimmerman said. “He’s done a terrific job providing a lot of great services to the borough.”
   Councilman William Hallman, who’s been a borough resident since 1999 and served on council for the past year, said Mr. Raffaelli knew everything about everything in town.
   ”He certainly went above and beyond his call of duty and tried to be helpful as much as he could,” Mr. Hallman said.
   During his years living in the Rocky Hill, Mr. Raffaelli has also been very active in the Republican Party, having served as chairman of the borough’s Republican Committee for about 17 years.
   Mr. Raffaelli was born and raised in New York City and moved to the Princeton area in the 1960s for an astro-electronics position with the former RCA Corp. He bought a home in Rocky Hill in 1976 where he’s been living with his wife Janet.
   Mr. Raffaelli has already sold his home in Rocky Hill and will be moving to Key Largo with his wife on Monday.
   The borough’s deputy clerk and recycling coordinator, Toby Whitlock, will replace Mr. Raffaelli as zoning officer.