Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
No replacement seen for PZC official before May

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
April 18, 2005

VERNON — A permanent replacement for former Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Alan D. Humphries will likely not be elected until at least next month, the town's top planning official said last week.

Citing increased work demands, Humphries resigned his seat on the board during the commission's March 17 meeting.

In his absence, commission Vice Chairman Mark St. Germain has been acting as the board's leader.

But St. Germain has said he is not interested in becoming the full-time chairman of the commission, which includes seven members and two alternate members.

In a March 18 letter to Mayor Ellen L. Marmer, St. Germain said he was not comfortable taking over the commission on a permanent basis.

Saying he has only three years of experience, St. Germain said he did not have the available time needed to serve as chairman or a "vast knowledge" of Robert's Rules of Order — widely accepted rules on how to conduct committee meetings — which he said could become a potential liability for the town.

Because he has applications scheduled to be heard by the commission in the coming months, St. Germain said becoming chairman could create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"I may have to resign in June due to various reasons and other commitments," St. Germain wrote. "Please have the Town Council search for any past chairmen that may be able to replace Alan Humphries. I think it would be in the best interest of the town to have an experienced chairman during these difficult times."

Last week, Marmer said it would be inappropriate for her office to choose a chairman for the commission.

Typically, commissioners elect a chairman from the group of seven regular members.

Marmer said the Town Council is scheduled to appoint a person to fill the last remaining PZC alternate member seat at its Tuesday meeting.

"I don't get involved in what they decide to do as a commission," Marmer said. "There's a certain order of bringing people from alternates to regular members. They have to choose someone from among themselves."

Recent resignations have left the commission with a relatively inexperienced group of members.

St. Germain is the longest serving regular member of the group, having been appointed to his present term in January 2002.

The next longest serving member, Juanita L. Bair, was appointed on New Year's Day 2003.

The rest of the commissioners were appointed as regular commission members after April 1, 2004.

Prior to his resignation, Humphries had served on town planning commissions for the better part of 25 years.

"We have a relatively inexperienced commission," Town Planner Thomas J. Joyce Jr. said last week. "In the past, we've had people who had been alternate members for three or four years."

Because of a lengthy agenda, Joyce said it is likely the commission will hold off on electing a chairman until one of its May meetings.

Joyce said he doesn't believe the commission will have a difficult time finding a person willing to lead the board.