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Bid By P&Z Chair To Retain Seat On Board Rejected By Republican Selectmen

Republicans on the board said Monday night that they did not want to proceed with filling Poutot's vacancy without a recommendation from Republican Town Committee Tom Banisch.

Christine Poutot, the chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, on Monday night asked the Board of Selectmen to reappoint her to the commission.

Democrat Joan Walker made a motion to add Poutot's request to the agenda so it could be considered, discussed, and put to a vote. Walker's motion was seconded by Democrat Al Goldberg.

Republican Bob Hale originally voted with Walker and Goldberg, which would have allowed the item to move forward for discussion and a vote, but he then changed his mind after seeing that his fellow Republicans, First Selectman Fillmore McPherson and Selectman Diane Stadtermann, voted against the motion.  

Hale asks for a re-vote

Hale asked for a re-vote, which was granted. With his nay, the motion to add an item to the agenda to consider Poutot's request failed, 3-2, with both Democrats voting in favor and the three Republicans voting against.

Also at the meeting the Board of Selectmen voted in favor of appointing or reappointing numerous candidates nominated by both the Democratic Town Committee and the Republican Town Committee. The committees recommend candidates to the Board of Selectmen, who then are charged with making the appointments. 

But the Republicans on the board said Monday night that they did not want to proceed with filling Poutot's vacancy without a recommendation from Republican Town Committee Tom Banisch. 

Poutot not told she would not be re-appointed

Poutot, whose term expires on Jan. 1, 2014, said she learned she would not be reappointed after reading the agenda sent out by the Board of Selectmen on Friday. She noticed that the other Planning & Zoning Commission members that have terms expiring on Jan. 1, 2014 were reappointed, but that her name was not on the list. 

She said that when she called Banisch to ask why she was not being reappointed, he told her that she had been on the commission "too long" and that he "wanted a change."

She said they discussed some other issues as well, but she declined to specify those issues. She said she hopes to discuss the issues further with Banisch and with other members of the Republican Town Committee.

"A great leader"

She said she remains convinced that she is the best person for the job. 

Two other members of the Planning & Zoning Committee who attended the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night agreed. 

"She's been a great leader," said Christopher Traugh, a Democrat whose term expires in January 2017. "Her knowledge is irreplaceable." 

"Patient and generous"

Francine Larson, a Democrat whose term was due to expire in January 2014 and was reappointed by the DTC Monday night, agreed with Traugh. 

"Christine is patient and generous. She has always been very generous in terms of allowing people to speak. I also think Christine is very knowledgeable and very thorough. I would just like to say I support her." 

Poutot, when addressing the Board of Selectmen in the public comment session at the beginning of the meeting, outlined her many years of experience as a volunteer for the town in a wide variety of roles. 

"I certainly have the credentials"

She was an alternate member of the Planning & Zoning Commission from April 1977 to January 1978, and then a full member from January 1978 to January 1990. She was a secretary for the commission from 1981 through 1985, and chairman from 1985 to 1990. She was a member of the Madison Economic Development Commission from February 1990 to May 1996. She was the Planning & Zoning Commission's liaison to the Madison Land Use and Acquisition Committee from July 1990 to December 1993. She was a member of the Madison Housing Partnership Committee from February 1994 to June 1997. 

She rejoined the Madison Planning & Zoning Commission in May  1996 as an alternate, for a term that ran through April 1998, and then became a full member again in April 1998. She also has served on the subcommittee that recommended changes to the downtown zoning regulations, and the committees that developed the 2000 Plan of Conservation and Development, and the 2013 Plan of Conservation and Development. 

"I am here to ask the Board of Selectmen for reappointment to the Planning & Zoning Commission as my term expires on January 1st," she said. "I would really like to continue with the Planning & Zoning Commission. I certainly have the credentials. I know the selectmen take recommendations from the town committees, but they can do the appointments themselves." 

Not yet replaced by the Republican Town Committee

Poutot said her spot remains open, and that she has not yet been replaced by the Republican Town Committee. 

Stadtermann said she would not support Poutot's request because she wants to hear from Banisch as to who he would like for that spot. 

Banisch said Tuesday morning that he is still seeking and interviewing candidates for the opening. Read more in this story.

Editor's Note: This story was edited at 8:23 a.m. Dec. 17, 2013.

Janet December 17, 2013 at 07:42 AM
What is behind this? Is there something Mr. Banisch feels needs to be addressed better?
Pem McNerney (Editor) December 17, 2013 at 09:05 AM
Hi Janet. Tom was not at the meeting, but spoke with him this morning by phone and this is what he had to say: http://madison-ct.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/rtc-chair-banisch-interviewing-candidate-to-fill-planning--zoning-commission-opening

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