Zoning Board of Appeals names new Chair and “Clerk”; “Chair Pro Tem” to be named as needed

by Beth Melo on August 18, 2016

Last night, the Zoning Board of Appeals followed through on a reorganization to remove Chair Leo Bartolini from the helm. At the start, it looked like he would be acting as backup to the new chair, leading meetings in his absence. But while he potentially still could, it’s not likely.

The board voted in Andrew Dennington as the new Chair.

Dennington was the sole member to vote against a controversial Use Variance for Park Central townhouses.* That may put him in good favor with the residents who called for Bartolini’s dismissal. (Their main complaint in a petition to the Town was Bartolini’s perceived over-reaching support of the 40B & 40A development.)

Next, the board needed to choose a “Clerk”. Initially, David Eagle described the position as a “second in charge” who would stand in for the chair in his absence. Member Paul Drepanos nominated Bartolini for the job. Bartolini had volunteered to step down as Chair in response to the controversy. But he told the board he would be happy to be Clerk.

Dennington questioned the description, referring to Town bylaw. Town Counsel clarified that the board doesn’t have a secondary Chair. There is no recognized position of Vice Chair or Co-Chair (despite the board’s history in past years of appointing one.) Instead, the Chair must select a Pro Tem Chair on a case by case basis to fill any absence. If known in advance, that would be done in public session. Otherwise, he can appoint one outside of session prior to a meeting. 

Counsel Aldo Cipriano explained that the Clerk is an administrative position on the board. It was created prior to hiring assistants to keep minutes and records. Current day, the Clerk’s most notable function is that he may be called in to legal proceedings as a witness.

Bartolini questioned Cipriano. He said that they had always appointed someone to be in charge in the Chair’s absence. Cipriano told him that shouldn’t happen going forward.

For Bartolini, it turned out to be a moot point. It appeared that the board looked to Dennington for his choice for Clerk. The new Chair didn’t second Bartolini’s nod and the motion failed.

Dennington asked newly appointed Craig Nicholson if he was interested. Nicholson said that as the member who would have the longest term going forward it made sense. The board unanimously supported the motion.

In the end, the reorganization doesn’t change the fact that only three members will continue to oversee the Park Central developments: Bartolini, Drepanos, and Eagle.

*To clarify, Dennington voted against the initial granting of the Park Central Use Variance. Once overruled, he voted along with the full board to other stipulations on the project.

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