Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

GUILFORD — Less than three months after disbanding its Planning Commission and dismissing all its members, the Guilford Select Board announced Tuesday morning it has reformed the commission with four new members and one who has been on the commission since 2016.

At its regular meeting on Jan. 10, the Select Board voted unanimously to appoint Jethro Eaton, Julie Holland, Charles Light, Michael Szostak, and Jeannette Tokarz to the new Planning Commission.

One of the new Planning Commission’s immediate tasks will be to review the Town Plan the previous members were working on and forward it to the Select Board for review.

“The Select Board looks forward to it advancing the Town Plan for approval,” stated Richard Wizansky, chairman of the Select Board, in a news release announcing the appointments.

Once the Select Board has reviewed the Town Plan, the hope is to present it to town residents in May.

And once that plan is approved, according to the news release, the Planning Commission will get to work on the next Town Plan, due for adoption in 2030.

“The process to secure Planning Commission members was guided by a set of values held by the Selectboard: respect for all Guilford residents; as diverse a representation as possible, including age, gender, livelihood; balance of voices, supporting openness and fairness for all; and trust in consensus and community building,” states the news release.

Eaton, a carpenter, moved with his family to Guilford in 2015 and was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2016. He operates a building business with his wife, Jaime Durham.

Holland, a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, became a full-time Guilford resident in 2013 with her husband and child. She currently works as a home care assistant for a private client and a company called Care in Vermont.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

Light, an independent film/video producer and distributor, has lived in Guilford since 2005.

Szostak, founder and director of Restorative Justice and Practices Program at Brattleboro Union High School, moved to Guilford 22 years ago.

Tokarz, a practicing primary care pediatrician, moved to Guilford in 2016.

The five members were selected from a pool of 60 applicants.

The previous nine-member Planning Commission was disbanded in October of last year after the Select Board expressed displeasure that the master plan, which was due in January 2020, was not approved by the Commission until October 2021. Michelle Frehsee, who was the chairwoman of the previous Planning Commission, said its work had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, at its Nov. 22 meeting, Wizansky said it was the Select Board’s observation “that an inability to work toward consensus and substantial amounts of tension made it difficult to conduct meetings and make decisions. Communication has been difficult due to a lack of email or remote meeting capabilities. Alternate means of communicating were not developed.”

“The Planning Commission has worked diligently on creating the town plan through the last six years,” wrote Frehsee in a letter submitted to the Select Board. “The decision to release all the board was ill-timed. Members of the Select Board knew we were one week away from sending the plan out to the adjoining towns to further the process towards a town forum, which is required to pass the town plan.”

The Guilford Planning Commission’s primary community responsibility is to oversee the processes that revise and renew the Town Plan. Additionally, the Planning Commission is authorized to undertake studies and make recommendations on an array of community issues, including economic and social development, land development, community beautification and design improvements, among others.

The Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. All meetings are open to the public and are conducted virtually and in-person at the Guilford Town Offices.

Bob Audette can be contacted at