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FRAMINGHAM – In the summer of 2018, Mayor Yvonne Spicer nominated Heather O’Donnell to be one of three voting members of the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

The 11-member City Council rejected the entire slate for the ZBA, and specifically noted the lack of experience by O’Donnell, and the entire slate.

In October 2019, the Mayor submitted a new slate of nominees for the ZBA to the City Council. The City Council approved two of the three full time members, and approved O’Donnell and Lap Yan as associate members.

And today, July 9, with less than a year of experience on the ZBA, the Mayor has nominated O’Donnell to serve a full member of the ZBA. It will need City Council approval.

Mayor Spicer also appointed Jeffrey Johnson to an associate member of the ZBA and re-appointed long-time associate member Rick McKenna and Yan as associate members for another year.

Mayoral ZBA Appointments

The ZBA appointments have been a headache for Mayor Spicer. While most of her committee, board, and commission appointments have been approved easily by the City Council, the Zoning Board positions have been the opposite.

In 2018, the City Council citing a lack of experience rejected all three of the mayor’s nominees for voting members – O’Donnell, re-appointment of Steve Meltzer, and newcomer Tim Sweeney. The City Council also rejected the Mayor’s nominees for associate members, too.

That meant that former ZBA chair Phil Ottaviani Jr. and Susan Craighead stayed on as full members along with Meltzer, who is currently chair, until the mayor’s nominees could be approved by the legislative branch of the City.

In October 2019, Mayor Spicer nominated Meltzer, associate ZBA member Ted Cosgrove and former Planning Board member Sue Bernstein to voting members of the ZBA.

The City Council approved Meltzer & Cosgrove, but not Bernstein, who business owners in the community spoke out against at the hearing.

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In December 2019, after 24 years on the ZBA , and 22 years as chair, Ottaviani resigned from the Board. He was elected as the District 6 City Councilor in November 2019.

So at the start of the year, the ZBA included Meltzer, Cosgrove and Craighead, whose original term ended in June 2018, as full voting members.

The associate members were O’Donnell, McKenna, Yan, and Joseph Norton, whom the Mayor had nominated for the Framingham Planning Board in 2018.

In spring of 2020, Norton, resigned his ZBA position.

An today, Mayor Spicer told the City Council she was nominating O’Donnell of District 7.

“O’Donnell will step down from her current seat as an Associate/Sign Appeals Board member and replace Ms. Susan Craighead, whose term expired 2018, as the newest ZBA voting member. O’Donnell holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern University and a B.A. in History from Messiah College. She has worked extensively with municipalities in Massachusetts working for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust and in Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. O’Donnell is
nominated to serve as a full voting member of the ZBA, effective through June 30, 2023,” wrote the Mayor.

McKenna of District 1 and Yan of District 3 were re-nominated as associate/sign appeals board members, effective through June 30, 2021.

And Mayor Spicer nominated District 8 and City of Newton employee Johnson as an associate/sign appeals ZBA member through June 30, 2021.

Mayor said Johnson was an “experienced contractor currently serving as the Building Inspector for the City of Newton. In this capacity, he works with Historic, Conservation, Engineering, and Health departments; serves as the construction inspector issuing permits;
assists the Fire and Police Department when emergencies need structural evaluation; and inspects local businesses, restaurants, and schools for IFC/IBC/ADA/AAB code compliance.”

The City Council will likely send the nomination to the appointment subcommittee, which is chaired by District 6 Councilor Ottaviani. The full 11-member City Council is expected to vote on the ZBA nominations in August 2020, two years from when the mayor first nominated O’Donnell.

The Mayor still needs to nominate one more individual as an associate member, as the ZBA is a 7-year board.

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.