October 24, 2014

Town boards need volunteers

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March 31, 2011

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

A number of vacancies continue to exist on several town boards and commissions, leaving Williston officials trying to find suitable replacements. The all-volunteer positions range from vacancies on the Planning Commission, to openings on the Community Justice Board.

“We’ve had people step into vacant positions recently, but we still need help,” admitted Town Manager Rick McGuire.

McGuire posted notifications of board and committee openings on the town’s website earlier this year, which helped generate some interest. But the Planning Commission will soon be short two members, and the Development Review Board has been in need of a seventh member since late last year.

Planning and Zoning Director Ken Belliveau said the lack of members on both government bodies lessen the exchange of ideas and sometimes hamper results. A fully staffed board also leaves enough wiggle room if other members can’t make certain meetings. Last year, the Development Review Board had to cancel meetings at a late date at least once because not enough members could attend. The board needs at least five members in attendance to reach quorum.

Belliveau said anyone interested in serving on the Planning Commission or Development Review Board shouldn’t worry about having special experience.

“But you do like people on your boards that have some basic knowledge of the task at hand,” Belliveau said. “You don’t have to be an engineer, you don’t have to be an architect. Just be a well informed citizen.”

The Planning Commission recently lost longtime member Debbie Ingram after she was elected to the Selectboard earlier this month. Commission Chairman Dave Yandell, another longtime member, also told the Selectboard two weeks ago he intends to step down once a replacement is found.

Belliveau said the Planning Commission is, first and foremost, a policy-making board. It handles the creation of many important town documents, including Williston’s bylaws and, more recently, the Town Plan. These commission projects then go before the Selectboard for final approval.

“With the (Planning Commission), they’re thinking about the big picture,” Belliveau said. “With the (Development Review Board), that’s for somebody who really wants to focus on the nitty gritty detail of a project.”

The Development Review Board often decides the fate of building projects throughout Williston. All major development ventures, from small property subdivisions to the large-scale Finney Crossing, must earn final permit approval through the board.
The board remains short one member after longtime Chairman Kevin McDermott stepped down last year and Scott Rieley entered in as chair.

As for other committee vacancies, the Selectboard recently appointed three residents to the Community Justice Board and two to the Recreation Committee. McGuire said other important openings exist, including a spot on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. He also said the town is in need of an alternate member for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority’s governing board.

If anyone is interested in applying for a board or commission position, contact the Williston Town Hall at 878-5121.

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