Growth Could Grind To A Halt With Commission Vacancies

Planning, Zoning Appeals Panels Seek Volunteers

March 24, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

MANCHESTER — The mayor and Town Council are looking for a few good souls who are willing to decide the fate of growth and development here.

The problem is, nobody's come forward in almost two months.

While the two vacancies on the six-member Board of Zoning Appealsand the one "almost-retiring" Planning Commission member have yet toaffect zoning appeals and land-use decisions, any more thinning of the ranks on these non-paying, appointed boards could lead to problems, town officials say.

"These are very important positions for the town," said Miriam DePalmer, Manchester's zoning administrator. "Planning and appeals have quite an impact on growth, development and the character of the town."

Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. appealed during the last two council meetings for people to serve on the boards. And, even though his message has appeared in newspapers and on Manchester cable television, no one has called him, DePalmer or anyone in the town office to sign up.

"We're in pretty good shape now,"said DePalmer. "But if we lose another member on the Board of Appeals, all decisions will have to be unanimous."

By law, the town's boards cannot hear cases if less than a majority of the full five-member body is present. Since the Board of Appeals now has four members --three regulars and one alternate -- one more resignation could causeproblems. Should a second resignation occur, the board legally couldnot conduct hearings.

"Below three members, we won't be able to hold hearings," DePalmer said. "And if we have three, all of the members will have to all be for or against any particular measure."

Forthe most part, DePalmer said tomorrow night's board meeting should be no problem. Two home-based day-care zoningexceptions, a non-conforming use request and a conversion of a single-family home into a two-family home are on the agenda.

She said such cases are more cut anddried than large-scale developments.

The Planning Commission and Board of Appeals have been fertile picking grounds for replacement ofTown Council members.

From the Board of Appeals, former chairman Larry Gouker was tapped to fill the council seat vacated by David M. Warner when he became the town's projects administrator two months ago. From the Planning Commission, former chairwoman Charlotte B. Collett was picked to fill the unexpired seat of Warehime when he was chosen to succeed former Mayor Elmer C. Lippy Jr.

Board of Appeals members are Eric Zile, David Black, Redonna Jenco and alternate PatriciaJager. Gouker's seat is unfilled, as is the seat vacated by John Timberman when he resigned earlier this year.

The Planning Commission, while currently posting no vacancies, is said to have at least one member who has told the mayor and Town Council he would like to resign. Members of the commission are Chairman Benjamin Perricone, who waschosen to replace Collett; Elizabeth Stepp, David Ruby, Town Councilman Gerald Bollinger, Robert Kolodziejski and alternate John Swam.

All members of the board and commission are chosen by the mayor and council and serve four-year terms.

The upheaval in town governmentbegan in the summer, about the time Lippy announced his candidacy for county commissioner. The affable 70-year-old -- a retired chemist -- had spent nearly 40 hours a week running town affairs. His departure has stirred serious consideration of hiring a full-time town manager.

Before Lippy's departure, Councilwoman Diane D. Maddox had moved out of town; Hampstead Manager John A. Riley was chosen to fill herseat.

May elections could change the face of town politics even more; the terms of Warehime, Riley and Gouker are up this year.

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