Saturday November 24, 2012

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

SHAFTSBURY -- Moments after the Select Board voted Monday to reduce the size of the Development Review Board for lack of interest, enough people to fill it at its former size submitted applications to be members.

As of Monday, the DRB had room for five full members and two alternates. Four members and one alternate currently sit on it. Its former size was seven members and two alternates.

In the past two months, the DRB has seen the resignation of three longtime members, including its chair and vice chair. After those resignations, the Select Board directed the remaining DRB to talk about how it would be structured moving forward and to come to the board with a recommendation.

It was at that meeting that Select Board Chairman Lon McClintock suggested to regular members of the audience that they volunteer as board members.

Seven people have expressed interest in being appointed to the one open DRB seat. Jennifer Viereck -- currently one of the alternates -- Ron Schoof, Kathleen Geneslaw, Michael Biddy, Jay Palmer, Mitchell Race, and Michael Foley have all expressed interest, according to Town Administrator Margy Becker.

DRB Chairwoman Megan Donkers said reducing the size was a consensus among DRB members. At a Nov. 7 meeting, some members said they enjoyed having a larger board because of the broader range of experience that could be brought to bear; however a smaller board also meant quorums are easier to reach.

Other DRB members leaned toward a small number of regular members with a nearly equal number of alternates, which is close to how the Act 250 District Environmental Commissions, which administer the state's land-use law, are set up.

McClintock said there have been two methods used for appointing new DRB members. A past method was to have the DRB interview prospective members, then make a recommendation to the board. He said the board had little involvement then, and transitioned to a system in which the board would also interview candidates. The board largely favored that system, and McClintock said the board would coordinate with Donkers and the DRB to schedule interviews.

The three members whose resignations prompted the restructuring were former Chairman Gary Burgess, former Vice Chairman Fritz Ludwig, and member Robert Holmes. Ludwig did not state a reason for his departure, while Burgess cited stress. Holmes was more direct, citing heated DRB meetings.

This past year has seen a number of spirited public meetings in Shaftsbury. Most centered around a proposal by TAM Inc., a local waste hauler, to build a composting facility off Route 7. For some, the meetings were tense enough for them to form a group calling itself CARES, which got the board to pass a resolution calling for respect and civility at public meetings.

A number of the people who volunteered for DRB membership were vocal during the TAM discussions.