The meeting of the Conservation Commission was scheduled for July 16. But that night one member of the commission called in sick, leaving the board unable to meet its quorum and conduct business.
An emergency meeting has been called for this week to hear Winn’s proposal. The Wednesday meeting is one day before Winn’s deadline to apply for the tax credit.
Conservation Commission Chairman Tennis Lilly has served the city on the board for 12 years. His most recent appointment expired in 2011.
“There hasn’t been a lot of effort on behalf of the city to fill the Conservation Commission or any of the other boards,” Lilly told Eddings. “Municipal boards have a lot of power. They exercise an enormous amount of authority over day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts aspects of daily life. If you’re a developer and you have a project, maybe it’s getting into fall, you don’t what to get your permit issued in the middle of winter. You need to get your permit issued in a timely fashion.”
Eddings found that today, 16 of 20 seats on four key city agencies — the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission and Lawrence Redevelopment Authority — are either vacant or are holding onto their quorums only because members whose terms have expired are continuing to serve while waiting for the mayor to act. On the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board, every seat is vacant or held by a member whose appointment has run out.
Lawrence needs all the investment and business growth it can muster. But when developers or businesses looking to grow and expand encounter problems like these, they get the message that city leaders just do not care. They’re more than happy to take their business elsewhere.