Article 17 Looking To Elect Planning Board Draws Debate

A citizen petition warrant article, which will ask voters to change the Planning Board from an appointed body to an elected one, was debated during the Feb.10 Town Deliberative Session.
The warrant article heading into the Deliberative Session read:
“Shall the Town vote to amend the Londonderry Municipal Code Title V – Administrative Code Chapter III Section I. A. to include the Planning Board as elected positions? This would move the Planning Board from being appointed by the Londonderry Town Council to being elected by the citizens of Londonderry.”
Deb Paul, who submitted the citizen petition warrant article, said since the Planning Board is arguably the second most powerful board in town, she thought that it should be an elected body, with liaisons from the Town Council.
“I thought this board should be elected,” Paul said, noting that right now, if people aren’t happy with what is happening with the appointees made by the Town Council, there isn’t much a resident can do.
Ultimately by going with an elected body, she feels that it would give residents more power over who is on the board.
“That was the mindset behind this,” Paul said.
Town Legal Counsel, Megan Carrier, explained that if it passes in its current form, it would create an inconsistency between the Town Administrative Code, and the Town Charter, since the Town Charter stipulates that its an appointed body and not an elected one. With that being said, Carrier said that the warrant article would be a non binding warrant article.
Planning Board member, Tony DeFrancesco, said he was concerned that people like himself who don’t “want to be a politician,” but still want to volunteer may not want to go forward with running for office in order to serve in a volunteer capacity.
He also noted that there is often a hard time finding people to fill vacancies on boards and commissions and he wasn’t sure if having an elected body would help or hurt getting more candidates.
“I don’t see this as fixing any problems and actually, I see this as possibly creating a larger problem,” DeFrancesco said.
An amendment was proposed to make it so it would state that the warrant article is advisory only, which was approved.
Paul said four years ago she put forward a citizen petition warrant article to have term limits for appointments to town commissions and board, which received over 1,400 votes, but since it was advisory only she feels there wasn’t anything done.
“The Town Council would not even discuss it,” Paul said.
She stated that she was concerned that by making it specifically an advisory warrant article, it might once again not be discussed even if a number of voters support it.
Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, said there is a way to switch to an elected board versus an appointed one.
“It would be to amend or revise the Town Charter,” he said when asked.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter