Last Update for this page:  07/13/2012 06:05:30 PM

 Kohrt Repohrt

 

Selectmen to consider removal of ConCom Chairman

"... may constitute a basis for his removal from the Conservation Commission."

Eric Sonnett, Chairman of Board of Selectmen

 

“This is a kangaroo court,” ~ Brian Morrison, Chairman, Conservation Commission
 

by Kevin Kohrt

 

December 7, 2005 — In response to a complaint filed an hour before their November 15 meeting, the Board of Selectmen instructed the Conservation Commission to initiate an investigation. The complaint involved the Commission’s own Chairman, Brian Morrison, and the work he contracted for on Piazza Lane--a private way used by Mr. Morrison's and his neighbor who filed the complaint, Mr. Bob Shepard, as a way to their respective homes.

 

At this past Tuesday’s Selectmen’s meeting, Bob Murphy, Vice-chairman of the  Conservation Commission, gave a progress report related on the Piazza Lane issue.

 

Mr. Murphy described how the Commission had immediately put the item on their next meeting, at which they took “input from Mr. Morrison,” as well as, “comments from abutters and the public as to the nature of the work that has been done."

 

Commissioners also visited the site and agreed "that the site is now stable, with no imminent danger to the resource area."

 

On December 2, members of the Commission held a teleconference with a representative from DEP. "The guidance from DEP was that under the state Wetlands Protection Act there is no exemption for maintenance," explained Mr. Murphy, after some prodding from Mr. Sonnet. But he then added that the local Conservation Commission would be responsible for determining whether a water resource was indeed threatened if the scope of the work fell into a “gray area.”

 

Then, on December 5, according to the Mr. Murphy’s statement, "Mr. Morrison filed a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA)", and as a result all further debate on whether or not an RDA should be filed was declared moot, and any further regulatory issues, including abutter input, were expected to play out when the RDA filling is given a standard hearing early next year. It was also noted in the report that "such 'filings after the fact' are not unusual.”

 

"You're doing exactly what we asked you to do, which is fine," explained Mr. Sonnett.

 

Mr. Sonnett addressed further concerns saying, "I guess that the issue that I'm having the biggest problem with is that when the matter was first addressed by this board we were led to believe that there was nothing unusual about the activity that happened. It was merely maintenance of the road, filling some potholes, and no big deal. But in researching it, I see 90 tons of material dropped in there; I personally observed it going in to the lake. We were led to believe that town routinely maintains the road and as near as we can tell we've never touched it. I'm having a real problem with this."

 

"I think we have a confidence issue based on the way the press has reported it. It's not going to go away any time soon from what I can tell," stated Mr. Sonnett.

 

Mr. Sonnett suggested holding a hearing to discuss the removal of Mr. Morrison from office.

 

Mr. Clark stated ,"…it would be appropriate for us to have a public hearing to discuss the issue with potential to find cause for removing Mr. Morrison from the Conservation Commission. But I think we should wait to schedule that public hearing--we can vote for it tonight to conduct it--but I would wait to conduct it until after the Conservation Commission has their schedule set as to when their going to have their hearing on the technical part and report to the selectmen."

 

Shortly thereafter Mr. Sonnett proclaimed, "To save all of you of the embarrassment of making the motion, I'll do the highly unusual thing and I'll make the motion."

 

The motion was read as follows by Mr. Sonnett: "Whereas the Board of Selectmen has received information relating to the continued service of Brian Morrison on the Conservation Commission which contains references to actions which may constitute a basis for his removal from the Conservation Commission. I move that a hearing for such removal be held in early January to coincide with the conclusion of the RDA process by the Conservation Commission."

 

That sparked some additional comment.

 

"This was all planned ahead of time," complained Mrs. Pratt of the motion that had been written ahead of time by Town Counsel Larry Faiman, "and I can't vote for that".

 

The motion carried, 3-2 with both Mrs. Pratt and Mrs. Kramer voting “no.”

 

"The whole process is despicable, completely despicable," concluded Susan Erdman, who is married to Mr. Morrison.

 

“This is a kangaroo court,” said Mr. Morrison upon leaving the meeting.

 

Mr. Morrison, who was cut off when trying to interject his own opinion during the long debate, said, "I respectfully disagree with Mr. Sonnett's misinterpretation of the facts."  Morrison said that he "will be reviewing the misstatements made by Mr. Sonnett and pursuing legal recourse."

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