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RTC Interviewing Candidates To Fill Planning & Zoning Commission Opening

Republican Town Committee Chairman Tom Banisch said Tuesday morning that the RTC recommendation committee is interviewing candidates to fill an opening on the town's Planing & Zoning Commission. 

The opening was created when the Republican Town Committee recommendations committee decided against reappointing Christine Poutot, the current chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, who has served as a volunteer on various planning-related boards and commissions for more than two decades, Banisch said. The RTC recommendations committee includes RTC members Eileen Banisch, Tom Burland, Ron Clark, Tom Kelty, Jim Matteson and Peter Parisi. Ron Clark is the chair of the committee.

"I sat as a member of the committee because Ron Clark recused himself from that portion, since he is a member of PZC," Banisch said. 

Poutot's term expires on Jan. 1, 2014. She learned Friday she was not reappointed after reading the agenda that was sent out that day for a Board of Selectmen meeting held Monday night. The town committees make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen for the town's boards and commissions. People also can nominate themselves to the Board of Selectmen. And the Board of Selectmen decide who will serve the town. 

The other members of the Planning & Zoning Commission with terms expiring on Jan. 1, 2014, including Democrat Francine Larson and Republicans Craig Bernard and Ronald Clark, were recommended by the Democratic Town Committee and Republican Town Committee respectively. 

All of the candidates recommended by the town committees, on the Planning & Zoning Commission, and other town committees, were approved by the Board of Selectmen. 

Poutot appealed directly to the Board of Selectmen Monday night to appoint her without a recommendation from the Republican Town Committee, but the Republican majority on the Board of Selectmen voted against adding that item to the agenda, so it was not discussed or voted upon.

Poutot said Monday night that when she asked Banisch why she was not being reappointed, he told her that she had been on the commission "too long" and that he "wanted a change." Poutot said they discussed some additional matters, but that she wanted to go back and have a further discussion with Banisch, and the Republican Town Committee before talking about that publicly. 

Poutot is not a member of the Republican Town Committee, but she said, as a Republican, she does plan to attend the next meeting of the committee to make the case that she should be reappointed.

Banisch, when asked why Poutot was not reappointed, said "she has been on the commission for over 20 years, we appreciate her service and we decided we wanted to go in  new direction." He did not say what, specifically, he is looking for by way of change and declined further comment on that.

As for why he did not let Poutot know that she would not be reappointed, he said it was an oversight. "That was not a personal thing. I meant to call her, I got sidetracked. I planned to set up a meeting with her, but was not able to," he said, adding that he was dealing with some personal family matters. 

Banisch said the slate of recommended candidates sent to the Board of Selectmen for their approval during Monday's night meeting was put before the entire Republican Town Committee, but not during a meeting. "It was a special vote. It was done electronically, an e-vote," he said. That e-vote was conducted last week, he said. 

He said the recommendations committee is seeking candidates and interviewing people right now to fill the final vacancy on the Planning & Zoning Commission. 

"We want to have a recommendation by the next meeting," he said. 

When asked again why Poutot was not being considered for the opening, he referred back to the comments made by Poutot after the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night. 

"She told you as much as I would like to say," he said. 

Pem McNerney (Editor) December 17, 2013 at 04:00 PM
This comment is from Herb Gram: "Christine has done so very much for our Town, and the fact that she is willing to continue, tells us just how dedicated she really is to Madison. Clearly there is something afoot and it should be stopped. Madison is at a critical time in our "growth" period, and frugal continuity is important to all residents."
Noreen December 18, 2013 at 03:41 PM
This is crazy! A willing volunteer is not allowed to continue to volunteer for P & Z? Why not? Maybe Mr. Banisch has served on the RTC for too long and he should be asked to move on? It is terrible for no one to tell Ms. Poutot that she was not going to be on the P & Z anymore. The town needs a better system for choosing the volunteers and for informing people if they are on a commission or off a commission. What would be done if she showed up at the next meeting in January because she did not know she wasn't on P & Z anymore, tell her then? I bet she still did not receive any official correspondence informing her of her status.

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