Mayor, Appointment Chair Both Write To Rejected ZBA Candidates

FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne Spicer sent an email Saturday afternoon to the Zoning Board of Appeals candidates rejected by the appointment subcommittee of the City Council last week.

The day after the 3-0-1 vote of the appointment subcommittee, Subcommittee Chair Cheryl Tully Stoll also sent an email to the 7 nominees for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Both stressed that the process is not over.

The full 11-member City Council will vote on the Mayor’s nominees to the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, August 21.

The Mayor nominated three full members and four associate members to the 7-member quasi-judicial board.

The appointment subcommittee questioned the experience of the nominees to serve as full members on the ZBA, thus its 3-0-1 vote to reject all seven nominees, including current member Steven Meltzer, who has served on the ZBA for 11 years as a full member.

“Thank you for your desire to serve our new city. The Appointments Committee of the Framingham City Council was impressed with each of you individually and excited by the quality of commitment and diverse knowledge sets that you want to bring to our new government. Unfortunately, the majority of Committee members expressed concern with the drastic turnover in ZBA membership at one time. This is no reflection on any of you personally or your talent set,” wrote Tully Stoll to the nominees on Wednesday August 8.

“Last night our Committee’s vote was 3-0-1 with Ms. Shepard abstaining, to recommend to the full City Council on August 21st, that we do not approve the entire slate with no negative implications to any individual and we want to encourage each of you to reapply if the full Council accepts the recommendation. Our hope is that a proper mix of relevant experience and new talent are on the next recommended slate from the Mayor,” wrote Tully Stoll. 

“Please keep in mind, that last night’s vote was only a recommendation from the Appointments Committee. The full Council could still approve your nominations as presented on August 21,” wrote Stoll. “Again, thank you for wanting to help make this the best city it can be. I ask that you bear with us as we try to work through some of our growing pains.
It was wonderful having a chance to get to know each of you a bit last night. I look forward to having a chance to serve Framingham with you in the future.”

On Saturday afternoon, August 11, the Mayor wrote “Thank you so much for your willingness and enthusiasm to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals. I watched the Appointment Committee meeting that occurred on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. I was very proud of how you responded to questions and it further solidified for me, that not only are you dedicated to serving Framingham but you will bring the best of yourselves to the Zoning Board of Appeals. I stand firmly by the interview committee’s recommendation and ultimately my support of your candidacy to be appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Each of you bring a unique strength to the position, including diverse expertise and experience, which is an asset to any board or commission in our new city.”

The Mayor encouraged the nominees to “reach out to your City Council, both your district and at-large councilors to request support for your candidacy.”

A couple of members of the appointment subcomittee, including City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti, were disappointed to learn the Mayor did not personally interview any of the candidates for this important Board in the City.

Tully Stoll instead said she was disappointed with the City Charter.


“I personally am disappointed that during the Charter process that the ZBA wasn’t included in the group of boards where members were gradually replaced, such as the Planning Boards and Housing Authority. In those situations new members can gain important experience before being responsible for being the deciding vote on a controversial issue. As someone who supported the move to City but was critical of some pieces of the Charter, I personally regret not realizing the implications of not phasing in new members and of not staggering the terms of Associate Members for the Zoning Board of Appeals,” wrote Tully Stoll.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial board, whose role is to interpret the Framingham Zoning Bylaw in appeals of denied building permits or other determinations of the Building Commissioner; and to hear petitions for special permits and variances subject to the requirements of Mass. General Laws. The Board acts as the Sign Appeals Board, and has  jurisdiction over affordable housing projects proposed under state law.

Nominated for a full position on the Zoning Board by the Mayor were:

  • Meltzer, a lawyer, who has served on the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals for the past 11 years, and one year as an associate member. He has experience in zoning laws, real estate development and the permitting process, and lives in District 6. He was nominated for a 3-year term
  • Heather O’Donnell , who holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern University and a B.A. in History from Messiah College, was nominated for a 2-year term. She lives in District 5.
  • Timothy Sweeney holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree and is a registered architect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is employed by Perkins+Will as a project architect, and lives in District 6.

Current member Suze Craighead did not re-apply, and current Chair Phil Ottaviani was not re-nominated by the Mayor.

The Mayor also nominated four white men for the associate positions on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 1-year terms.

They are:

  • Jason E. Brown, who holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Brown has experience in United States and international laws and regulations regarding design, manufacturing and distribution of medical devices. He lives in District 3.
  • Brandon Graska holds a Masters of Architecture from Boston Architectural College and is currently employed as tenant coordinator with WS Development. Graska has worked in the architectural and development disciplines for the last decade, and has extensive knowledge of local codes and regulations. He lives in District 4.
  • Rick McKenna holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Northeastern University. McKenna has extensive experience in construction, and is the owner of Symphony Builders general contracting firm. He live sin District 1. McKenna currently serves as an associate on the ZBA.
  • Joe Trainor is a licensed construction supervisor and registered home improvement contractor and is also the owner of CustomWorks Contracting, LLC.  He lives in District 6.

No one from Districts 7, 8, or 9 were nominated.

They were 11 applicants.






Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: Phone: 508-315-7176

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