April 26, 2017

Town boards need volunteers

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.


  1. youngvt says:

    I am writing in response to Mr. Hoxworth’s article on transportation costs for the poor in Vermont. I would like to suggest further research on this topic before we simply just give another handout or tax credit. The poor, may, have a higher disproportionate burden on their transportation costs than the wealthier residents of Vermont; however, they also have a lower disproportionate burden on taxes and housing. Pick your evil.
    We can simply just give every poor Vermonter an energy efficient car, gas card, free tuition, renter’s rebate, etc.…but the only way out of poverty is through the combination of education, hard work, and discipline. Education and degrees are not handed out or purchased; a person has to EARN them. This seems to be the only way out of poverty—sorry, there are no shortcuts.
    If we continue this trend of enabling, our entire state will be a welfare state.

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