Interested in Running For Planning Board?

Chairman Lester Hensley discusses the board's role in town.

The Forbes Municipal Building. Patch file photo.
The Forbes Municipal Building. Patch file photo.

The Westborough Planning Board is "very much tied with the fabric of the community," Chairman Lester Hensley says.

"The state Legislature decided that local governments should have the power to develop the character of their communities. And it's the responsibility of the planning board to establish bylaws that guide how land in the town is used. And the bylaws are intended to ensure that the character of the town as defined by its residents and leaders in a master plan is preserved. So, in its daily operation, the planning board reviews proposed land uses against the current bylaws to ensure compliance with the intent. And in so doing, we share the responsibility with other boards and departments of ensuring the quality of development," Hensley said Wednesday.

"To me, it's very much tied with the fabric of the community. The planning board has its finger on the pulse of change in the community. And a lot of that change is happening under the guidelines set by planning boards in prior years. So, this planning board is both interpreting what's already there, but the other side of what we're doing is the planning side of what we're doing is the creation of new bylaws to address unanticipated or anticipated new uses that could change the character of the community."

Three seats on the five-member board are on Westborough's March 4 annual town ballot.

Incumbent Mark Silverberg has taken out nomination papers for the five-year term. Member Edward Newton Jr. has taken out papers for the two-year term. That's the balance of the five-year term once held by Trevor Beauregard. Beauregard resigned last year, and Newton was appointed to serve until the 2014 annual election.

A four-year term had drawn no interest as of Wednesday morning -- with a 5 p.m. Friday deadline for taking out nomination papers for the ballot.

Selectmen added the seat to the ballot recently, after Joanne Mallozzi resigned, less than a year into her term.

Hensley said that some residents with whom he's discussed possibly running have expressed concern abut being able to return to Westborough after work in time for the board's two monthly meetings.

"I think people who tend to be interested in the planning board understand that there is a learning curve. And many of them, generally, have some association with some aspect of the planning process, whether it be real estate or construction or some aspect that interests them. So, they don't mind taking on the work," he added.

"It's a great opportunity for them to share their talents and time in the betterment of the community."

Hensley said that "I'm not terribly concerned" about filling that fourth-year term.

"The board has demonstrated its ability to do its business with four members. But it of course is preferable to have a full board. It's always better to have more minds and opinions looking at something in order to get the best outcome," while covering the board for a super-majority if a member is ill or absent, he said. 


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