By Mara Brooks, Editor
Former ZBA member Stuart Bennett read a statement at the July 12 Selectboard meeting criticizing comments made by Selectboard Chair Matt Krasnow about a conflict of interest issue involving ZBA member Ronda Moore.
“Matt I’m directing my comments specifically to you and I’m hoping that the other boards in town and their chairs pay attention,” Bennett said of Krasnow’s comments at the June 28 Selectboard meeting. “You’re a leader of the town. You lead by example, and you should show us what good governance looks like.”
Bennett told Krasnow the Selectboard chair made “a serious mistake” in publicly commenting on a topic raised without notice by ZBA Chair Lane Morrison at the June 28 meeting. At the meeting, Morrison asked the Selectboard to remove Moore from the zoning board due to what Morrison described as an undisclosed conflict of interest between Moore and zoning applicant Evergreen Family Health and its proposed Charlotte Health Center.
Bennett said statements Krasnow made at the June 28 Selectboard meeting “prejudiced” the community against Moore. He described the meeting as a “pile on.”
“Acknowledge the mistake, apologize to [Moore], apologize to the town, learn from it, and move on,” Bennett told Krasnow. “Whether [Moore] is right or wrong is going to be resolved by the ZBA.”
Krasnow said Bennett’s comments would take “a little while to digest.” He added the Selectboard had been following the advice of general counsel “to the letter” since meeting with the town attorney two days after Morrison requested an adjustment to the official Selectboard agenda.
“We’re moving forward with due process as recommended by general counsel and I think we’re all learning from that,” Krasnow said.
“It’s too little, too late,” Bennett replied. “The bell’s been rung. All you have to do is listen to the hearing. You totally denounced her.”
Krasnow told Bennett he thought Bennett was confusing statements made at the June 28 meeting with quotes pulled from a newspaper article. He encouraged Bennett to “go back and watch” the recording of the meeting.
“I would encourage you to look at how the town responded to the issue, and if there are points for improvement, we certainly want to have those discussions in the future once the process has gone through the correct way,” Krasnow said.
Selectboard Vice Chair and former ZBA Chair Frank Tenney said the Moore matter should “never” have been put on the agenda as an adjustment for discussion without prior notice.
“I don’t think any decision or really much discussion should be done on an added item that nobody has been warned to, or been advised to look at any information on,” he said. “It should have been maybe brought up in public comment so that it could be discussed in a future meeting and warned. Properly.”
Tenney said the procedure for addressing possible misconduct among ZBA members is included in the zoning board rules and procedures.
“I would hope that our zoning members that have been looking at our zoning rules of procedures and ethics and rewriting them in the last three months would have read them, to know how the process would proceed,” Tenney said.
Tenney, Bennett and two other former ZBA members resigned from the zoning board in May amid mounting concerns of conflicts of interest among board members.