Thursday May 23, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

POWNAL -- After having the nomination of Nelson Brownell rejected by the Pownal Select Board, the town’s Planning Commission voted Tuesday to recommend him again.

Brownell, who has been the zoning administrator for Pownal for many years, remains the interim ZA until a new one is appointed. The commission recommended Brownell be reappointed for a three-year term in March after interviewing him and five others who wanted the job.

The board voted to reject the nomination and appoint Dave Thomas, a member of the Development Review Board, but committed a procedural error in doing so. The Planning Commission, which writes the zoning bylaws, recommends to the board who to appoint as zoning administrator. If the board does not wish to go with the recommendation it must send a letter back to the commission requesting a new recommendation.

"I’m very disappointed with the Planning Commission; they sat on this way too long," said board Chairman Stephen Kauppi. The board had sent a letter to the commission a few weeks ago asking it what the status of the ZA appointment was. Kauppi said leaving the matter up in the air so long was likely to make people think twice about applying for it again.

The commission also voted to send a letter to the board responding to a letter sent to it by Kauppi in which he apologized for the procedural error and outlined the board’s logic in rejecting Brownell and wanting Thomas. "Some feel more follow up and enforcement from Pownal’s ZA would be beneficial," was one of the letter’s points along with a desire for a "fresh start" and "consistency."

The letter states that the reasons for wanting Thomas were his knowledge of the bylaws, an ability to "compile work objectively and professionally," experience with building trades, and daytime availability.

Part of the commission’s response will include an invitation to the board to help it develop stronger enforcement powers for the ZA to use.

The commission’s decisions were voted on after an executive session. Brownell was present during the regular meeting and said he wished to be reappointed so he could continue his work. He said he has been the ZA on and off since the 1970s and despite what many think there has been progress in Pownal in terms of zoning matters.

The board meets Thursday to act as the Board of Sewer Commissioners and will not meet as the Select Board again until the following week.

In other business the commission listened to a number of concerns held by Linda Cardimino, whose property abuts the Burdick Mobile Home Park. The meeting became quite heated at times. Cardimino said a mobile home at the park burned down recently and the fire did damage to her property. She said the setbacks for mobile homes should be more than 10 feet. She also said a shed on the park’s property has been moved onto hers by frost heaves and said the setbacks for sheds should be greater as well.

She criticized Brownell extensively and said his advice for her to get an attorney on the shed issue was unacceptable.

Commission Chairman Michael Slattery said property line matters are outside the commission’s jurisdiction and that it’s likely Cardimino would need an attorney to pursue court action in that case. He said state law allows a person who loses their home to fire to rebuild within three years sans permit provided what they build occupies the same footprint as before. It does need to comply with building codes, however, which is something that the town can look into.

Cardimino also had issues with construction going on at a nearby church. The commission said her concerns over power lines were not something the commission could address, however Brownell could look into some things concerning dust or water runoff.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.