New year, new zoning administrator

It was a bumpy ride last year for Charlotte’s Zoning Administrator (ZA) Daniel Morgan, starting with a controversy over some food trucks and ending with a mutual agreement to part ways. After a year and a half in the position, and despite the town formally withdrawing a written reprimand they had issued earlier in the year, Morgan is finished at Town Hall and the Selectboard and Planning Commission are working on finding a replacement.

The next person to fill the ZA position will be the fifth in seven years. At Monday’s Selectboard meeting, after accepting Morgan’s resignation, the board approved a familiar face to temporarily hold the job until a permanent replacement is found:  Jeannine McCrumb, who last held the position full-time in 2015. Morgan’s other responsibilities, including E-911 officer and sewage control officer, will be covered by other town employees and volunteers until someone new is hired.

Morgan’s tenure with the town was uneventful until late August 2020, when he issued a controversial notice of violation to Charlotte Crossings on Route 7 for hosting food trucks without proper permitting.

On July 24, the Selectboard issued an oral warning to Morgan regarding job performance; prior to this point, his performance reviews were positive. In mid-October of 2020, the Selectboard issued a written reprimand to Morgan regarding his job performance. Through his legal counsel, employment attorney John Franco, Morgan filed a grievance against this written reprimand; on December 17 the town formally withdrew it.

The letter withdrawing the grievance, which was signed by Selectboard Chair Matt Krasnow and members Dr. Jim Faulkner and Louise McCarren, said that in order to “rule-out any possible ambiguity” regarding employment expectations, the Selectboard revised the ZA job description with the intent to clarify expectations and improve job performance.

“Therefore, the Selectboard does hereby rescind the written reprimand and it will be expunged from his personnel file and it will not be considered in any later disciplinary matter.” The Selectboard denied Morgan’s request to reimburse his attorney fees.

Morgan said that he has no comment on the grievance withdrawal or his departure from Town Hall “at the moment.” Krasnow said he is in the process of crafting a response to inquiries regarding the matter, but it was not ready by press time.

As of mid-December, the town had spent close to $6,000 to pay legal bills and add extra training for Morgan in his role; Town Clerk Mary Mead indicated at that time that there were more bills to come.

At Monday’s Selectboard meeting, the board began plans to refine the job description and pay grade for the new ZA. The Planning Commission is responsible for interviewing and hiring applicants.