New members join Wilmington DRB

Friday March 29, 2013

WILMINGTON -- The Selectboard interviewed people for two open positions on the Development Review Board on March 19.

The Selectboard chose the two applicants shortly after their interviews.

"I’m excited," said DRB Chairwoman Nicki Steel. "Being on the DRB is an important way of helping the town and seeing how the regulations work. And there’s always something interesting for sure."

The DRB was in need of the new members, especially since Paul Tonon sent his letter of resignation a few months ago and Dave Kuhnert’s term expired.

The board was in jeopardy of having to continue with only three members and no alternates.

Frank Sprague’s term is effective immediately, as he is taking Tonon’s position. Sheila Osler will begin on April 3, taking over for Kuhnert. She will not be on the board until after the first hearing on April 1.

The Wilmington Selectboard asked the two candidates questions before resuming the rest of the board’s regular meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, the candidates were notified of which position each would fill.

Sprague told the board he is very interested in town politics. He served as a Selectboard member in Whitingham and used to own a business in Wilmington.

When asked about how his mind has been changed from something preconceived, Sprague talked about his business, Stone Puddles.

"I have two employees," he said. "I’ve been welding since I was young. Having full-time employees has brought in a lot of ideas. I’m open minded most of the time."

Selectboard Chairwoman Meg Streeter said the DRB has changed over the years.

"What’s different now is the decisions," she said. "What seems to be simple cases are somewhat lengthy."

Streeter asked Sprague if he would be up for writing decisions as the DRB members take turns writing the decisions for hearings.

"It’s an interest," he said. "Not an issue. It’s probably my weakest point, but doing Stone Puddles work, I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer, e-mailing people all over the country."

Osler spoke with the Selectboard next. She talked about her experience with the Planning Commission and her expertise. She has a master’s degree in interior design.

"There wasn’t as much architecture involved," Osler said. "I’ve also been involved in the restaurant business in town for 40 years."

Osler made it clear that while she was interested in the rural quality of Wilmington, she was "very much interested in the (downtown) village."

"What appeals to me now is the fact that there is a renewed community spirit since (Tropical Storm Irene)," Osler said. "It was exacerbated by the flood... For a town to survive, there needs to be a very clear approach to what happens in the future."

Steel sat in to hear the candidates go before the Selectboard. She added to the conversation when asked about how the DRB works, and she welcomed the newest members after the Selectboard appointed them.

"These are both good people and business owners," Steel said. "Sheila’s been here for years and years. Frank was born and raised in Whitingham. I’ve known both of them for years. I think they will bring some good skills. I’m excited about it."

Steel plans to assist them with training and preparation for the hearings on April 1.

"There is a lot to learn when you get on the DRB," she said. "We really try as a board (to train) because we know it’s difficult. We try to give a lot of support and help and training to members.

Steel told the Reformer that there are still alternate positions available for the DRB. The board still needs more people to get involved.

"The alternate positions are a great way of easing into it," said Steel. "They can come and watch a little, before they sit in on their first case."

On April 1, the DRB will hold hearings that involve the state garage, the town garage and a sign in town.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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