Longtime Building and Zoning Official Jack Kane is retiring, the Town of Middletown announced today.

Recently, Kane informed the town he was stepping away from the job at the end of September to pursue other interests.

Kane has worked in the town’s Building and Zoning Department for the past 24 plus years, the last 14 as the head of the office. 

“It’s one of those things, you know when it’s time — and it’s time,” Kane said chucking according to a press release from the Town of Middletown provided to What’s Up Newp. “I’m going to move on and give someone else a chance. It was a pleasure being here and I feel I’m leaving everything in a good spot.”

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In addition to advertising Kane’s job, the assistant building official post is also open, meaning there will be a couple of new faces in the department in coming weeks, according to the Town of Middletown. Anyone interested in learning more about the positions is encouraged to visit middletownri.com online or contact Middletown Human Resources Manager Casandra Bennett at 846-5781.

Over the years, Kane said he enjoyed his job, one that many people he dealt with didn’t fully understand. For Kane, being the town’s lead Building and Zoning officer was about protecting people.

“It’s the first line of protection for the consumers and taxpayers in town,” Kane said. “Everyone in this community uses services, they have homes or live in apartments, they go to work. This office is about making sure their single-family home, hotel, supermarket or office space is safe.”

Keeping tabs on zoning provides a different type of protection, Kane said.

“Zoning is all about quality of life and making sure people are using their property the way it was intended,” Kane said. “It’s as simple as that. I always made sure we upheld those rules and regulations to the best of our ability.”

According to the Town of Middletown, Town Council President Robert J. Sylvia said Kane did an excellent job over the years in a difficult position.

“It’s one of those jobs, sort of like being a policeman or policewoman, where a lot of people don’t like to see you unless they need help,” Sylvia said in the press release. “Jack always did a good job and was fair with everyone, our contractors, the residents and the town. When you think about it, that a tough set of circumstances to balance and Jack had the talent and ability to make things happen and get things done.”

Sylvia said it was important to get the right people into the vacancies so the department could continue to move in a positive direction. 

“We were very fortunate to have Jack and he was a big part of our team for a number of years,” Sylvia said. “He did a lot of work behind the scenes and Jack is going to be tough to replace. It’s going to take a highly skilled and seasoned person to fill his position. The work that happens in that office is critical.”

Asked for advice for the new Building and Zoning Officer, Kane said in the press release that he encourages the person to set their own tone.

“Everyone has their own style and way of conducting code enforcement,” Kane said. “I don’t think any two people do it the same and everyone operates slightly differently, even in the three communities on the island. I’d say find your own way and do what works for you and your town.”

Kane said he hadn’t figured out the next chapter yet, but he did look forward to spending more time with his wife Cathy in their Newport home. The couple have a daughter Riane.

“A lot got done over the last 24, 25 years here in Middletown and I’m proud to have played a part in it,” Kane said. “To me, the biggest achievements were the construction of the new police and fire stations. Those two projects benefit everybody, they were long overdue and the results speak for themselves.”


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