Selectmen take more active role in appointments

Jun 4, 2019

MARION — Selectmen interviewed three candidates for two positions on the Zoning Board of Appeals in an effort to take a more active role in the approvals process. 

The board has two open positions after Betty Dunn resigned from the board and Selectmen promoted alternate member David Bramley to a full voting member. Selectmen still have an alternate and voting spot to fill.

Selectmen started interviews on May 21, by talking to Willam Tifft and continued them at a June 4 meeting.

On May 21 Tifft expressed a desire to get more involved with his community, and an interest in history that led him to apply for the Zoning Board’s Historical Commission. 

On June 4 Selectmen began an interview with Jarrett Drake, only to have Drake withdraw his name from the process after realizing he will be busier in the summer than anticipated. Selectmen asked if they could keep his name for more project-based committees in the winter, when Drake has more time, and he said they could. 

Selectmen also talked to Ethan Gerber, who is applying for the ZBA, Conservation Commission and Affordable Housing Trust. Selectmen were confused about the wording of his application, and asked him to confirm that he is a full-time Marion resident. They also asked about his professional affiliations, after Gerber said he is a real estate broker. Gerber responded that he is currently involved in the seafood industry, but moved to Marion with the intention of one day starting his own real estate company, though he has not yet done so. 

Selectmen also talked with Margie Baldwin, who they acknowledged for having served on multiple other committees. Selectmen asked if Baldwin has read the bylaws recently. She responded that she has not, but needs to brush up on them. They also asked if she would be willing to complete training. She responded that she would. 

Selectmen will consider any other applications that come in on the positions, or make a decision at their next meeting. Selectmen have not traditionally done interviews for the position, but felt it would be a good idea, after a post on the Town’s new Facebook account created more interest than usual in the position. Though appointments were originally scheduled to expire earlier in the year, Selectmen voted to extend appointments through Aug. 31 to give them more time to review applications.

“Rarely do we have four candidates for two places, and we felt we owed it to them to speak with all of them. We welcome public comment, because we obviously don’t know these people very well. And I see Marc [LeBlanc], the [ZBA] chairman back there, we would love to hear your comments before the next meeting,” said Selectmen John Waterman.

The only resident comments at the meeting were from Peter Douglas, who opposes LeBlanc as Chair because he is a real estate broker, and because a developer has made comments about having LeBlanc “in his pocket.”

Waterman also believes that “we owe it to the town to do a more thorough process, not only with new candidates but for reappointments.”

Selectmen are also considering monthly meetings with department heads to “make sure they are comfortable and everything is going well,” Chair Randy Parker explained.

The Selectmen will also look at more formal contracts for the Animal Control Officer and Assistant Harbormaster to clarify duties for those positions, but want to finish negotiations with current employees first, before adding additional positions.

Residents with comments on the appointments should contact Town Administrator, Jay McGrail to provide feedback.