Mayor Spicer Has Yet To Submit New Nominations For Framingham ZBA, Almost 9 Months After Council Rejection

FRAMINGHAM – Almost nine months ago, the 11-member Framingham City Council voted 8-3 to reject Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s nominees for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Last night, District 8 City Councilor Judith Grove complained that the Mayor has yet to submit a new slate of names to the City Council for the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals.

Her complaint was due to a recent decision by the ZBA on Leland Street, next to the Wilson Elementary School, in District 9. The ZBA agreed to permit a tow lot at that property.

Grove said the vote by the ZBA was a “threat to the residents of this area and especially to the children who attend the Woodrow Wilson School.”

She questioned why the Mayor has yet to submit new names for the ZBA to the City Council.

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 announced in 2018 she would 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.”

Now, Norton has announced he plans to run for City Council in District 1.

Norton told SOURCE he would resign from both the Framingham Planning Board and the Framingham Zoning Board, if elected. But he would serve on one or both boards until the Mayor has found replacements, so as not to stop government activity.

Norton is currently unopposed. He lost to Current District 1 City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky in 2017. But Sisitsky announced to the SOURCE last month, he would not seek re-election.

And, current ZBA Chair Phil Ottaviani is running for City Council in District 6. He pulled papers to run on May 1.

Ottaviani lost to District 6 City Councilor Mike Rossi in 2017 for the seat by just 22 votes.

Last week, Rossi announced he would not seek a second term.

In fact, seven of the current 11-members on the City Council will not seek re-election in 2019.

The Mayor’s office has yet to issue a statement or re-advertise for Zoning Board of Appeals members since that rejection last summer.

Mayor’s Nominees in 2018

On July 31, Mayor Spicer nominated seven individuals for the three full-time members and four associate members on the board.

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 Ottaviani Jr. applied for re-appointment, Spicer chose not to appoint him.

Today, May 8, he is still chair of the Board, sets the agenda and oversees the meetings. There is a ZBA meeting tonight.

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.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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