FRAMINGHAM – Five months ago, the 11-member Framingham City Council voted 8-3 to reject Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s nominees for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Since that rejection of her nominees, the Mayor has met with Councilors, and the current Zoning Board chair, but has yet to submit a new slate of names to the City Council for approval.
With no new names submitted to the City Council, the current Zoning Board of Appeals remains, as it was when the City began on January 1, 2018. And the Board continues to rules on cases.
Terms ended for some members on June 30, 2017, and for its current chair on June 30, 2018.
Until the Mayor’s nominees are approved, members have voluntarily agreed to serve, from when they were appointed by the Board of Selectmen, including Susan Craighead, who had planned to leave the board, and did not seek re-appointment.
With no new mayoral nominees, Associate Zoning Board of Appeals member Joseph Norton, is now serving on two major boards. Mayor Spicer nominated him for the 5-member Planning Board, and he was confirmed by the Council in 2018.
In August, Framingham Planning Board Chair Christine Long asked Norton to recuse himself from a vote before the Planning Board as he had sat on the same matter when it came before the Zoning Board.
But a week later, Norton said the City’s Solicitor rendered an opinion that “I
may sit on cases that are before the ZBA and the Planning Board, as long
as I do not have any conflict of interest relative to Section 23B of the
Conflict of Interest law.”
Norton said he is allowed to sit on both boards on the same issue, as he is “representing the interests of the City of Framingham.”
Mayor’s Nominees in 2018
The Mayor’s office said in its announcement, it conducts a “complete review of applications” and conducted interviews before making its decision.
There were nine male and two female applicants. Applicants came from Precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Although current chair Philip Ottaviani Jr. applied for re-appointment, Spicer chose not to appoint him.
Today, January 21, he is still chair of the Board, sets the agenda and oversees the meetings.
Mayor Spicer nominated for full positions on the Zoning Board on July 31:
Current Zoning Board of Appeals member Stephen E. Meltzer, an attorney who has served on the Zoning Board for the last 11 years. The District 6 resident, has experience in zoning laws, real estate development and the permitting process.
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. The District 5 resident has worked extensively with municipalities in Massachusetts working for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust and in Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
District 6 resident, Timothy Sweeney , who holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree and is a registered architect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sweeney is employed by Perkins+Will as a project architect.
Mayor Spicer nominated for Associate positions:
- Jason E. Brown, a District 2 resident, who holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
- Brandon Graska, a District 4 resident, who has worked in the architectural and development disciplines for the last decade, and has extensive knowledge of local codes and regulations.
- Rick McKenna, who 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.
- Joe Trainor, a licensed construction supervisor and registered home improvement contractor, who lives in District 6.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial board responsible for, but not limited to the following activities:
- Interpretation of the Framingham Zoning By-Laws for appeals relative to denied building permits or other determinations of the Building Commissioner.
- Review the application for development and land use projects. Such project applications include Special Permits and Variances.
- Review of sign cases as the Sign Appeals Board, pursuant to the Framingham General By-Laws Article VII.
- Review of Comprehensive Permits for affordable housing projects pursuant to Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 40B.
Citing a lack of experience, the City Council’s appointment subcommittee voted 3-0-1 to recommend the full City Council reject the nominees, after interviewing the nominees.