Your Neighbors • Your Priorities
Planning & Zoning Commission
left to right: Ben Nneji, Susan Consentino, and Robert Hendrick.
Please scroll down to read more about us.
Everything above board, nothing behind the scenes
- Transparency, Engagement, and Accessibility
- Conduct all business in public, unless legally required to do otherwise.
- Demand respectful engagement of our community by applicants.
- Push for better electronic records and communications.
- Proactive Planning
- Prioritize our community’s planning vision above reactive development ideas.
- Support commerce in appropriate places, while protecting residential areas.
- Consider the long-term impact of projects and zoning decisions.
- Sensitive and Sensible Development
- Preserve and enhance our environment and ecosystem.
- Protect property values by requiring responsible development.
- Collaborate sincerely with peer commissions, committees, and boards.
Susan Consentino is a seasoned real estate professional with deep ties to Ridgefield. Susan grew up in Ridgefield, attended Ridgefield Public Schools and graduated with a B.S. from Northwestern University.
Susan’s broad experience in commercial and residential real estate will make her an asset to the Planning and Zoning Commission. As a commercial real estate professional in NYC, Susan was responsible for multiple complex transactions. As a volunteer member of the St. Stephens Property Committee, Susan has a unique understanding of local real estate issues.
Susan is currently employed part-time by both Founders Hall senior center and the Town of Ridgefield. Susan has a passion for photography, an eye for detail and a special view of her surroundings. Having grown up in Ridgefield, she can provide a perspective from the town’s past to the present. Her goal is to contribute to Ridgefield being a great place to live, work, and raise a family. She would like to see the town continue to evolve and move into the future while still preserving its small town charm.
Why I'm Running
I grew up in Ridgefield, left to go to college, worked in Chicago, then later in NYC. I returned to Ridgefield to raise a family. The experience of living in big cities gave me a greater appreciation for Ridgefield, and why we need to protect it.
I have always cared about local land issues and welcome this opportunity to run for P&Z, to get involved and give back. I would like to see Ridgefield continue to evolve and move forward into the future, while still preserving its historic charm.
I worked successfully in the NYC real estate market – one of the toughest, most competitive and cutthroat in the country. I have experience in residential and commercial RE and look forward to applying my background and skills to benefit Ridgefield as a member of P&Z. Since I no longer practice RE, there will be NO conflict of interest.
I enjoy the challenge of figuring out creative solutions to problems. I am able to look at issues in terms of what is best for the Town with NO conflicts of interest - monetary or otherwise. Fresh pairs of eyes are needed to examine 8-30g to reign in the current abuses of that law. That can only come from P&Z Commissioners without conflicts of interest. I am eager to see what can be done.
Clarity and Transparency
Both are clearly still an issue for P&Z, whether they currently believe it or not. The public has expressed their frustration and I understand. Most people don’t know how to navigate P&Z. You shouldn’t need a law degree to figure it out or have to spend a lot of money to hire a lawyer to present your application.
I’ve sat through endless nights, and hours at Ridgefield P&Z meetings over the past year and a half, taking notes, analyzing applications and sitting on extremely uncomfortable chairs – with no 7th inning stretch!
Key to improving P&Z going forward will entail their having more respect for the expertise of other town Boards and Commissions. P&Z meetings should not be contentious and members of the public must be respected for their contributions.
In my current job in Ridgefield, as an Instructor, I have the opportunity to hear a lot of different opinions on community issues from a wide range of age groups. As the daughter of documentary filmmakers, I learned early on how important it is to understand different perspectives. I will be sensitive to both the community and applicants.
Fair & Open Minded
I consider all sides of an issue and like to provoke intelligent discussion and peaceful debate. It’s always better to get things out in the open and discuss them fully than to regret a decision later.
Intelligence & Strength, and Respect & Kindness are not mutually exclusive attributes. Agree to disagree – we have a lot of work to do – let’s get something done!
I’m asking for your vote, for myself – Susan Consentino -- as well for my P&Z teammates – Ben Nneji and Rob Hendrick. Thank you.
Ben Nneji is the founder and president of SigmaWorks Group, a process management, leadership development and management consulting company. Ben implements data-driven solutions to increase growth and productivity in service industries and has led corporate teams within the advertising, financial services, telecommunications and retail industries. Ben has implemented numerous business process and management improvement programs supporting several Fortune 500 brands.
As a Vice President at GE Capital, Ben set up and led a team of strategic marketers, and successfully increased growth in net income for GE Capital’s Global Consumer Finance. At AT&T, Ben was responsible for enhancing the quality and reliability of the Merlin telephone systems and switches, and led the development of a new pricing model based on optimization algorithms.
Ben holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Columbia University, and he has also earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Ben serves as President of the Board of Columbia University Club of Fairfield, CT. He is also active in various non-profit organizations and is an active member of St. Mary’s Parish in Ridgefield.
Why I'm Running
I am a naturalized citizen who immigrated from Nigeria in 1981 to attend Columbia University where I received a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Since graduation, I have worked for major US companies, including JCPenney, ATT, GE, and Omnicom Group and served in senior staff and line roles.
I came to Ridgefield, via the United Kingdom, where I went on behalf of GE to set up and manage a global group of Data Miners who developed various scoring, analytical and response models for our GE Global Consumer Finance business. My wife, Janie, my better half, was instrumental in our deciding to make Ridgefield our beloved abode. While I was wrapping up my assignment in the UK in 1998, Janie, who returned ahead of me, spent extensive amounts of time researching and visiting various Connecticut communities in search of where we will call home. Ridgefield won hands down over the many communities she considered. I couldn’t agree more as I fell in love with Ridgefield’s parks, natural trails, incredible main street charm and its welcoming family-friendly ambience.
I am running to give back to a community and country that has been so kind to me and my family, if lucky to be elected to serve in the Planning and Zoning Commission. I realized when I attended some Planning and Zoning meetings that we can only maintain our thriving small-town if we can balance new developments that create and grow opportunities with maintaining our small town ambience. Therefore, I will work very hard to strengthen the process to notify and engage residents upfront in upcoming new development proposals to ensure approvals are in the best interests of Ridgefield communities and economy. I will work hard to strengthen the process that ensures the maintenance of our neighborhood character and environment while growing our local economy and keeping taxes from rising in line with Ridgefield’s Plan of Conservation and Development. In short, I will work hard to ensure a better future for all our residents.
My engineering background, management consulting skills and expert knowledge in how teams and processes could be reengineered to work more effectively and more productively will be beneficially applied as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
I ask for your vote on November 5.
Robert Hendrick has 20+ years of experience in community-sensitive real estate development, land use, planning, and zoning. He was involved in his first new-build commercial real estate development in 1998 (outside Chicago); from that time until today, through several hundred projects worldwide with combined value well above $2 billion, he has always set a high bar on ethics, community engagement, and environmental sensitivity. His skills, experience, and perspective would be of great value to the Town of Ridgefield.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Hendrick graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003, he was elected by his neighbors in Philadelphia to serve on the Board of Directors for the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA). Among other things, the CHCA was designated by the City as the local entity responsible for review of land use, planning, zoning, and architectural matters within one of Philadelphia’s most vibrant and affluent neighborhoods, with approximately 35,000 residents in 2.8 square miles. Chestnut Hill is also a National Historic District, with an incorporated Business District, a Community Fund, and a Parking Foundation.
In his professional life, Hendrick has focused mainly on developing office and corporate real estate projects in locations throughout the world… but not in Ridgefield! He assembles and manages the interdisciplinary professional team of attorneys, brokers, architects, engineers, consultants, and contractors, and he leads project teams with a very high standard for ethics and sensitivity toward local communities and the environment. He has appeared before public agencies, community boards, and similar authorities in places similar to Ridgefield like Stamford and Needham (MA), and places as diverse as Seattle, San Francisco, London, and Berlin. He has also held leadership responsibilities for large operational teams (delivering corporate services, security, etc.), from 14 to 600+ staff members, and annual budgets exceeding $100 million.
After a few career moves – from Luxembourg, to Seattle, and then NYC – in July 2017 he and his wife (Sarah) decided to “set roots” – and bought a home near the center of Ridgefield. Robert knew the area from family in CT and always had an interest in settling nearby. Sarah is from the UK, and works for PepsiCo in Purchase, NY. In July 2018, their first child (Elizabeth) was born. They look forward the walk to Veteran’s Park Elementary and many other Ridgefield family experiences to come!
Why I'm Running
I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and have lived all over the world, but fell in love with Connecticut a long time ago, and always hoped to eventually make it home. As a child I had summer holidays with family in Simsbury, and my parents would take us to the Litchfield Hills, the Berkshires, the Hudson River Valley, etc. We learned to appreciate the history, terrain, and character of New England. When I was a little older, I helped build a small company that was based in Westport, and I started to appreciate how Fairfield County has such a perfect-but-delicate balance between New England and New York Metro. After living in Europe and elsewhere in the USA, my wife and I decided to settle in Ridgefield in July 2017, just before we had our first child in July 2018.
I am running to be a Planning & Zoning Committee Member because I have 20 years of professional skill and background to help the committee and the community on P&Z matters, without having the conflict of interest that often comes when that professional work is focused locally. I often lead or sponsor commercial real estate development projects, and I am passionate about doing so in a way that sets a high bar for ethics, community engagement, and environmental stewardship. I come from a family with long tradition of public service and feel that it is a civic duty to apply one’s skills in a way that benefits the community.
As a relatively new member of the community, I feel I am uniquely positioned to listen to all parties without bias and with a “fresh pair of ears”, but with relevant skills in P&Z, which should help find fair and balanced outcomes. As a candidate I intend to listen and learn, quite a bit. But as I spent time in the audience of many community meetings over the past two years, and met many of you, it is already obvious where we have some room for improvement: (1) better community engagement – particularly from developers/applicants, (2) more proactive planning, less reactive zoning, and (3) a sensible-but-sensitive development posture. I have a number of specific ideas and suggestions that fall under each of these three headings and look forward to the opportunity to get into the details with you in person and hear your feedback.
Election day is November 5th, 2019