When the Board of Selectman last June voted not to reappoint Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Sam Stivers to another five year term amid complaints about how the board treated applicants, they put the rest of the board on notice, saying future reappointments would face similar scrutiny. Last night they held true to that promise in considering the reappointment of member Regina McAuliffe.
“I have had concern about the Zoning Board of Appeals dating back at least a year,” Chairman John Rooney said. “This is the process we’re going to go through whenever someone from the ZBA is up for reappointment.”
Rooney said when the board heard complaints from developers and residents last year, one of the complaints was directed at McAuliffe. Rooney also made reference to an “ancillary incident” that took place sometime outside of a board meeting. While he did not provide any detail out of respect for McAuliffe’s privacy, Rooney expressed concern that McAuliffe’s behavior during the incident might “bleed over” into ZBA meetings.
McAuliffe said she has contributed constructively to the ZBA throughout her term and hoped to be reappointed. She took exception to the fact that no other board reappointments were similarly scrutinized and accused the selectmen of “holding a grudge.”
“It’s not a grudge. We heard serious allegations about conduct that happened at those ZBA meetings…One of those allegations was against you,” Rooney said. “In fairness to you, I thought you should have the opportunity to address the issues and tell us why you should be appointed to the next five years.”
Several residents spoke in support of McAuliffe, including Stivers, current ZBA member Ed Estella, and former selectman Roger Challen. They praised her dedication, degree of preparation, and sound decision-making.
Selectman Bill Boland was not swayed by McAuliffe or her supporters, and said he would not vote to reappoint her.
“I’ve heard comments that led me to believe it might be best to make a change on the committee. I’m not going to get into specifics, but they cause me enough concern that I think it might be in the best interest of the town,” Boland said. “I’m not comfortable reappointing Ms. Mcauliffe to the ZBA.”
Challen said Boland was not keeping an open mind. “You made up your mind before you came here tonight,” Challen said. “To make a decision before you even hear her seems very shortsighted. That concerns me.”
Rooney and Selectman Dan Kolenda said they were not prepared last night to make a decision on McAuliffe’s reappointment, and wanted to evaluate her relative to any other residents who might seek a spot on the board. Town Administrator Jean Kitchen said at last night’s meeting ZBA alternate member David Eagle has expressed interest in a permanent seat.
The board decided to defer its vote to its next meeting on June 5.