GROVELAND — The sparring between the selectmen and the Planning Board continues.
The latest chapter revolves around the selectmen's recent appointment of Road Commissioner Robert Arakelian to a vacancy on the Planning Board. Walter Sorenson, chairman of the Planning Board, said the appointment is illegal; Donald Greaney, chairman of the selectmen, said it passes legal muster.
Greaney and fellow Selectman Bette Gorski attended the Planning Board meeting Tuesday night and discussed the issue with Sorenson and the other planners.
"It was unpleasant," Gorski told The Eagle-Tribune. Sorenson agreed.
Sorenson said the seat on the five-member board should be filled by James Freer, who has served on the panel for many years. Greaney insists the selectmen are the appointing authority and their choice is Arakelian, the veteran road commissioner who has served previously on the Planning Board.
Planning Board members were elected by the voters until two years ago. Then, at the selectmen's suggestion, Town Meeting two years ago changed the method of selection to appointment — by the Board of Selectmen.
At this year's Town Meeting, Sorenson and other Planning Board members urged voters to change the panel back to an elected group. Town Meeting supported the reversal.
In the meantime, Freer's five-year term on the Planning Board expired this year. Freer went to Town Clerk Anne Brodie to take out papers for re-election, but she did not give him the papers because the position was not on the ballot, according to Sorenson.
Greaney, Gorski and Selectman Bill Darke maintain the election of Planning Board members will not resume until the next town election. Until then, therefore, they, the selectmen, are responsible for filling vacancies, Greaney said.
Sorenson, however, said the vacancy should be filled by a joint vote of the selectmen and the Planning Board, as detailed in Chapter 41, section 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws. Since five Planning Board members — Sorenson, Robert O'Hanlon, Carole Gist, Jon Stock and Freer — have already voted for Freer, he should be seated, since there are only three selectmen, Sorenson said.
Greaney and the other selectmen, however, said the method of filling a vacancy advocated by Sorenson does not apply to a board that is still officially an appointed one.
Attorney William Hewig of Kopelman and Paige, the town's legal adviser, said Monday morning he has not received any inquiries from Groveland about how a Planning Board vacancy should be filled. He told The Eagle-Tribune he will not render an opinion "until I have all the facts."
Arakelian did not attend Tuesday night's Planning Board meeting because his appointment did not take effect until July 1, yesterday, Gorski said.
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