Obituary: Jeffrey Wheeler, Belmont’s Long-Time Town Planner, Died Sunday

Photo: Jeffrey Wheeler (right) at a meeting of the Planning Board

Jeffrey Wheeler, who helped create the townscape of Belmont as a fixture in the town’s Planning Office for more than a quarter-century, died on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.

“We are deeply saddened by this news, and share our condolences with his family, friends and coworkers,” said Shawna Healey, Belmont’s acting Human Resources director in an email to Town Meeting Members sent Tuesday, Dec. 29.

“I know we will all miss Jeffrey’s smile and the hard work he has contributed to the Town over his 26 years,” said Healey. 

As head of the Planning Division of the Office of Community Development, Wheeler handled land use, economic development, zoning and planning issues in Belmont. Working with town departments and boards – specifically the Planning and Zoning boards – Wheeler was involved in every aspect of town planning: from perfunctory design and site plan reviews to writing the 25-page agreement approving the construction of Cushing Village (now known as the Bradford).

Wheeler was the “go-to” source in Community Development on the town’s zoning bylaws – whether it was creating or changing existing ordinances and interpreting the meaning of a byzantine section of the law.

In the past year, Wheeler played a key role in some of the most significant projects in Belmont: planning for the opening of two retail marijuana establishments, reviewing the Chapter 40B housing development at Beatrice Circle, and leading the effort in rewriting residential zoning bylaws to allow a mixed-income development on McLean Hospital land that was approved by a Special Town Meeting.

A native of Sherborn, Wheeler’s family said it will forgo any services but are planning to hold a celebration of life in August 2021, so all can attend. 

Wheeler’s family and the town are looking to set up a fund to place a bench in his memory in Belmont.

“As soon as this fund is set up we will share it with staff and all those who wish to contribute,” said Healey.