EAST LONGMEADOW — As East Longmeadow heads into a time of change, with a new high school building, shifting of town offices and a potential center town district, Robert Watchilla has taken the reins as director of planning and community development.

Watchilla completed his undergraduate degree in public policy in Delaware before attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst for his master’s degree. He began his career as the planning director in Ware for two years before joining the planning office in Amherst. When the director position in East Longmeadow opened, he said he pursued it because, “I missed being a planner.” He also said Town Manager Tom Christensen and Deputy Town Manager Rebecca Lisi seemed “energetic.”

Looking at ways he could serve the town, Watchilla said, “The town could definitely benefit from some reimagination of the zoning bylaws.”

He added that business is growing in town. He said that during his time in Ware, the town was not experiencing much growth, while Amherst was undergoing too much.

“Zoning is not static,” he said and needs to change as the town’s conditions change.

“There are a lot of developed patterns that aren’t sustainable in the future,” he said.

One area that is being considered for eventual alterations to its zoning is the area within a mile radius of the rotary at Center Square. The town is considering how to create a “center town district” with greater density, mixed-use housing and repurposing formerly industrial properties.

“Zoning changes don’t only apply to buildings. We will be exploring how to make the rotary a place to walk or bike [and] updating streetscapes,” said Watchilla. He said many of the people who first spoke against the idea of making changes to the area later contributed some useful comments.

Boiling the topic of zoning change down, he said, “You have to maintain sustainable growth in a way that doesn’t negatively affect residents.”

Considering changes to the rotary itself, he said, “I definitely wouldn’t mind tackling that. I would definitely like to start the conversation with [Massachusetts Department of Transportation].” He explained that Route 83, which runs through the notoriously difficult to navigate seven-road intersection, is a state-owned highway. Any changes to the rotary would be a long-term project with two or three years of design process alone. “[MassDOT] holds a lot of the cards,” he said, but noted the town could start chipping away at the larger project through work on the town-owned portions of the rotary.

Another project he would like to take on is more bureaucratic in nature. He said the town’s permitting system could be “streamlined, easier, more accessible.” Instead of requiring a check to pay for licenses, he said a credit or debit card function would be helpful. Also, he’d like to eliminate the need to come before the Planning Board for more commonplace items, such as business licenses.