Town Board appoints 3 to Planning Board

Three new people were appointed to the town’s Planning Board, but not all commissioners voted for the appointments.

At Thursday night’s Town Board meeting, Assistant Planning Director Michael Mathis presented the appointees who were recommended by the Land Use Committee.

Re-appointed were: Stephan Abranyi, Dennis DeWolf, Rick Trevathan, and Brad Armstrong. Appointed for the first time were: Darren Whatley, Christopher Wilkes, and Helene Siegel.

New commissioner Marc Hehn entered a no-vote but was told it would count as a “yes.”

However, after the meeting he said Town Attorney JK Coward told him he could have asked to be excused, but prior to the meeting he said Town Manager Josh Ward told him that he couldn’t be excused unless there was a conflict of interest.

Usually, a conflict of interest involves finances; there being none meant he couldn’t be excused.

Hehn said he didn’t want to vote because of the process, not because of the appointees.

“I believe they are probably qualified,” he said after the meeting, “it’s just the way it was done.”

He said for some time, the town’s website has said there were no openings on the Planning Board, which meant no one thought there was a reason to apply.

Evidently, the applicants had been on file for some time, but still, the website didn’t say there were openings.

Hehn contends that had the website been transparent, perhaps more people would have applied. After serving for several years, Thomas Craig, Chris Boltz, and Glenda Bell were removed. At the December Planning Board meeting, Thomas Craig announced that the December meeting would be his last. 

At the time, Boltz and Bell didn’t know it would also be their last meeting. In fact, they didn’t know they had been replaced until after the Jan. 16 Town Board meeting.

Bell said she wasn’t told she needed to reapply to retain the position – that she, Craig and Boltz had just been reappointed each year.

Some years ago, the Town Board did away with term-limits on its various boards ruling that commissioners could simply annually reappoint or not.

Again, it’s the process that took place that some felt offensive – saying communicating that they were to be removed would have been the polite thing to do.

Thursday night, Mayor Pat Taylor said the three removed from the board would receive a letter of thanks and a gift certificate

By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper

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