Framingham City Council Chair ‘Extremely Concerned’ About ZBA Appointments

FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne Spicer has decided to remove Phil Ottaviani Jr. from the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals, after more than two decades of volunteer service with that board.

The Mayor’s office began advertising for three Zoning Board of Appeals members, and four alternates earlier this spring. Yesterday, in a press release, Spicer announced her picks for the 3 members, and four alternates.

Eleven individuals applied, including current members Stephen Meltzer and Ottaviani. Current member Suze Craighead chose not to re-apply, and Meltzer was nominated for another 3-year term.

“I am extremely extremely concerned about the dramatic turnover on the ZBA being recommended by the Mayor with her nominees. While I agree and support the approach of finding new voices in our community the transition must be done in smart, orderly and balanced manner (as was the case with the Planning Board) not in a cataclysmic disruptive way,” said City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti.

“The ZBA is one of the most important and impactful boards in our city government,” said Giombetti.

“For a long time it has been a board that has function at a high level. I may not always agree with every decision they have made but the decisions have been well thought out, well grounded in state and local laws and with a working knowledge of the neighborhood,” said Giombetti.

The 11-member Framingham City Council, as of this morning, had yet to receive the official list of nominees for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

This is not unusual. A press release announcing the picks for Framingham Conservation Commission was issued on July 12, but the names of nominees for the Commission were not submitted to the Council until this week.

The Mayor re-appointed 6 of the seven Conservation Commission members, and for many of the City’s boards, committees, and commissions she re-appointed many current members.

“I am proud of my community service over the past three decades as a former member of Community Development Block Grant Committee, Town Meeting Member and Zoning Board of Appeals. I look forward to continuing to be active and engaged in the community my family has called home for the past four generations,” said Ottaviani, when contacted by Source. He has been on the Framingham ZoningBoard of Appeals for 21 years.

Giombetti is one of five City Councilors on the Council’s subcommittee on appointments. The subcommittee is chaired by at-large Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll, and makes recommendation on appointments to the full 11-member City Council to approve or reject.

The City Council has 30 days to approve or reject appointments made by the mayor. The next City Council meeting is scheduled For August 21.

“While I will do my due diligence on each of the nominees, they will need to demonstrate to me a significant working knowledge and experience with state zoning laws, city ordinances and intimate knowledge of our city and our people,” said Giombetii. “In my mind these are critically important success factors for being a good board member. The amount of expertise required to do the job right and the impacts to our city are too high for the inexperienced.”

All current Zoning Board of Appeals members serve until, the City Council approve new members. For example, alternate Zoning Board of Appeals members Joseph Norton is currently serving on both the ZBA and the Framingham Planning Board. He was sworn in as a PlanningBoard member earlier this month.

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Editor’s Note: In full transparency, Ottaviani is a Source advertiser with his real estate firm.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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