OCA EXTENDS TERMS OF THREE PLANNING BOARD MEMBERS

Screenshot of the final OCA meeting, held via Zoom on 6/8/20. L-R and Top To Bottom: Sarah Swartz, Evan Ross, Darcy DuMont, George Ryan and Alisa Brewer. Screenshot: Art Keene

The Outreach Communications and Appointments Committee of the Town Council (OCA) held its final meeting on June 8 via Zoom webcast. The meeting was recorded. Henceforth, the duties of OCA will be divided between the Community Resources Committee (CRC) and the new Town Services and Outreach Committee (TSO). 

Participating: Councilors Evan Ross (Chair, District 4), Alisa Brewer (at large), Darcy DuMont (District 5), George Ryan (District 3), and Sarah Swartz (District 1).

Planning Board Appointments
The only substantive item on the agenda was to determine next steps in filling three anticipated vacancies on the Planning board. Three members, David Levenstien, Christine Gray-Mullen, and Michael Birtwistle, are at the end of their terms. Levenstein and Gray-Mullen have indicated that they will not seek a reappointment. Birtwistle has requested reappointment. OCA has found the current pool of applicants for seats on the Planning Board to be of insufficient size. Ross has spent the last two weeks trying to recruit additional candidates without success. 

Ross noted that if no replacements are available when the terms of current members expire, then those members with expired terms continue to hold their seat until a replacement is found. These are not reappointments but rather temporarily extended terms. Ross noted that both Levenstein and Gray-Mullen have agreed to continue for a couple of additional months but not beyond the end of the summer. Ross proposed the following options for OCA:

  1. Continue to meet for another two weeks and redouble recruitment efforts;
  2. Reappoint Birtwistle and leave it to the CRC to fill the remaining two positions;
  3. Ask the three Planning Board members whose terms are expiring to serve through the summer, then leave it to the CRC.

Brewer recommended that the OCA reappoint all three for a short period of time (perhaps through Labor Day), which would put the Board in a legally sound position. Then CRC will deal with it in the fall. Ross moved to appoint all three to the Planning Board with terms expiring August 31, 2020. That motion passed unanimously.

The Committee then discussed its final recommendations for a process for appointments to multi-member bodies appointed by the Town Council.
These recommendations will be given to the CRC with an expectation that the CRC will adopt this process. 

Brewer asked that OCA add a strong statement to its recommendation about the appointment process, saying that the process for making these reappointments was long in coming and should not be modified capriciously.

DuMont, who said she would have to vote against recommending the new process because she opposes several components of it and feels that the Committee’s work ought to be more transparent, praised Ross for his work ethic and for the hard work that went into producing the final product.

A motion to recommend that the Council adopt OCA’s proposed process passed 4-1 (with DuMont voting no).

The meeting ended with mutual appreciation for all the work that the Committee has accomplished and praise for Ross and Swartz, who served as chair before Ross.

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