Town of Halifax, Vermont
April 8, 2008
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:38 PM. Board members in attendance were Vice Chair Frank Maltese, Craig Stone, Allan Dacey, Paul Placentino, Norman Fajans, and Howard Alboum. Commission members absent were Christina Moore, Paul Blais, and William Pusey. Margo Avakian and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk were also in attendance.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Alboum moved to accept the minutes of the March 11, 2008 meeting as written.
Mr. Stone seconded the motion.
The motion carried 5-0-1, with Mr. Placentino abstaining, as he was not present at that meeting.
Mr. Alboum advised that a review and discussion of the role of the Chair of a board had been scheduled for this meeting. He has concerns with the issue of voting but would rather have a full board present for the discussion. He advised that if the Chair does not vote on a regular basis, it technically makes it an 8-person board instead of a 9-person board. He further advised that the chair could always abstain, which is the right of every member, but in his opinion if the chair only votes in the event of a tie vote it makes it an 8-member board.
Mr. Maltese advised that in his opinion, the Chair should direct the board as best and as evenly as possible. If the chair has an agenda and steers the board in the direction he wants, then if the Chair votes, that puts him in a very powerful position. If the Chair runs the meeting fairly and tries to get the members to work as a team and in the same direction, if it still is a tie, then the Chair should vote to break the tie. If the board knows that the Chair is not going to vote, then they have an obligation to work it out.
Mr. Alboum advised that his point is that Chair or not, every member of a board has the obligation to vote.
Mr. Fajans advised that Mr. Maltese’s point is that it would force the other members of the board to work together if there’s going to be a tie vote. There might be a little more compromise so when it’s all said and done, there might be more of a consensus that everyone can embrace and support. He advised that he could see Mr. Alboum’s view, but feels that working things out through compromise can be more useful even if it takes more time.
Mr. Dacey noted that 99 times out of a hundred, it makes no difference whether the Chair votes or not. Usually the members work things out and there is no problem with a tie.
Reorganization of the Planning Commission
Mr. Maltese recommended that they pass over appointments until the next meeting, as there are members, including the Chair, who are absent. It was noted that the secretary position should also be approved.
Mr. Dacey moved to approve Phyllis Evanuk as secretary to the Planning Commission, and to defer appointments to Chair and Vice Chair positions until the next meeting. Mr. Alboum seconded the motion, which carried 6-0.
A visitor, Jeff Glaser, asked for an explanation of the purpose of the Planning Commission and the differences between planning and zoning.
Briefly, it was explained that the Planning Commission formulates and updates the Town Plan for approval at Town Meeting, and develops the zoning rules. The Zoning Administrator and the Zoning Board of Adjustment enforce the rules.
Acting Zoning Administrator recommendations were discussed. Because it is the job of the Planning Commission to make recommendations for appointment, they need to make the public aware that they are looking for interested residents.
Mr. Dacey advised that a notice should be posted.
Mr. Fajans noted that if the Commission is going to recommend someone, they should know if the person(s) they recommend have some knowledge of the zoning regulations, or if training would be necessary in order for them to perform the duties.
Mr. Maltese advised that if it is not posted, it might give an impression of closed-mindedness, which they do not want.
Mr. Dacey moved to post a notice of the Acting Zoning Administrator position in the three places normally used for Town notices, with a request to respond to the Planning Commission Chair or Vice Chair before the May meeting of the Planning Commission.
Mr. Alboum seconded the motion, which carried 4-1-1, with Mr. Placentino against, and Mr. Maltese abstaining.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:12 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk