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Planning Board Minutes 01/12/16

                              PLANNING BOARD
                            TOWN OF TISBURY
                                 P.O. BOX 602
                           TOWN HALL ANNEX
                               (508) 696-4270 X1122
                            FAX (508) 696-7341


Date:           January 12, 2016

Time:           4:30 PM

Attendance:     C. Doble, B. Robinson and D. Seidman

Place:          Green Room and Katherine Cornell Theater, 51 Spring Street, Vineyard Haven, MA

4:38 PM Interview with Frank Brunelle
D. Seidman noted for the record that the purpose for the meeting was to interview F. Brunelle to consider the possibility of his nomination for one of the vacant positions on the Planning Board. He commented that F. Brunelle had made verbal and written comments against him personally and the Board that were divisive and insulting. He was curious to understand F. Brunelle’s intentions and purpose for expressing an interest in serving on the Board that he has on numerous occasions expressed was inept and incapable.  

F. Brunelle believed D. Seidman was taking his statements out of context, and characterizing his motivations (i.e. divisive) for wanting to be a member of the Planning Board.  If the Board was to take all of his statements into context, they would see that he had tried his best to clarify, to educate, and to make a statement in the best interest of the town, cyclist, property owners, and taxpayers that the best solution was a symmetrical road.  D. Seidman interrupted F. Brunelle to clarify that the question was not about Beach Road. He wanted to understand his motive(s) for wanting to work with a board, in which he has on numerous occasions accused of not working in the best interest of the town, when they’ve all been re-elected by their constituents.

F. Brunelle indicated that he has served on several boards and has had ample experience working with people as a member of the Nathan Mayhew Seminars Board (10 yrs.), as President of the Nathan Mayhew Board of Directors (5 yrs.) and President of the Tisbury Business Association. He did not hold any feelings of animosity towards the Board or members of the board. He agreed that he has made many statements that have been in direct contrast of the Planning Board. But by the same token, if they felt he has made divisive comments, he did not receive any feedback from members of the Planning Board, so that it was extremely frustrating for him. And in this context he may have lashed out. He reaffirmed to the Board that he did not harbor a personal antagonism against them, and believed he could work with them and make a contribution as a negotiator. He mentioned that he has done well in negotiations on behalf of the Tisbury Business Association, the Edgartown Board of Trade, etc.

He admitted that he may have made a few comments that were regrettable out of frustration, but nothing was intended by it.  

B. Robinson inquired about F. Brunelle’s tenure on the Nathan Mayhew Seminar’s Board. F. Brunelle estimated that it was around 1990 – 1996, possibly longer. He explained that he was part of a ‘college’ committee that included a psychologist, D. Reston, and a couple members of the Selectmen that were created to establish a college on the Vineyard. It was a separate concept and entity from the Nathan Mayhew Seminars, which was established by Tom Goethals in the 1970s.

B. Robinson inquired about his success in the venture. F. Brunelle indicated that his biggest success on this project also served as his biggest failure. He approached Eric Turkington, state representative at the time to suggest that they could institute an undergraduate program via distance learning with funding from the Commonwealth of Mass in association with the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. After receiving $100,000.00 from the Transportation Bonding Bill they obtained equipment, etc. and began offering courses over a three year period over the internet. Despite the fact that the technology to broadcast an image and voice on a screen was very involved and expensive, his expertise in computer programing allowed them to accomplish back then what is commonplace today. Northeastern University was teaching graduate level courses in literature as part of the program, and they were negotiating to incorporate Suffolk University.  

C. Doble thought it important for F. Brunelle to understand that the Board had been working hard to create a space where people could talk openly with the Planning Board to share ideas. The community at the Vision Planning process wanted ‘communication and transparency” from their local government and as a member of the board, she has been trying to create that forum at meetings. It concerned her that over the past few months he has had a mode of communicating via emails and other social media (Vineyarders Talk) that was hard-hitting. He acknowledged the use of social media to convey his thoughts, but did not intend to be “hard-hitting”.  She thought it was important for each member to carry themselves appropriately, so that they did not excite or antagonize the public to prevent them from presenting a controversial subject in a public arena that can be intimidating for participants in a community. F. Brunelle indicated that he has been frustrated, because he did not feel he was given a voice, when he was told not to speak at meetings.  B. Robinson noticed that F. Brunelle left the meeting the Vision Council scheduled to discuss Beach Road. F. Brunelle indicated that he left the meeting because the discussion appeared focused on the shared use path, and did not feel he would have “a chance to argue that a….”.  B. Robinson noted that it was the venue they created to hold that discussion. If he was unwilling to present his position on a subject to an audience he did not feel would receive his opinion, it was difficult to imagine that he would be able to serve on a board that other people might have different opinions.

B. Robinson indicated that he had read F. Brunelle’s emails, but that his comments were not grounded in facts. F. Brunelle inquired for specifics, but D. Seidman advised him that they were under a time constraint. The Board of Selectmen agreed to prolong their meeting to accommodate the Planning Board. B. Robinson offered to contact F. Brunelle to continue the discussion, if he was interested. F. Brunelle welcomed the opportunity for a dialogue. F. Brunelle reiterated that he would make every effort to work with the Planning Board to relieve the stress.

C. Doble clarified that the Planning Board has been working diligently to open a dialogue and create a comfortable open space for the community to share their opinions in a respectful way.  She felt F. Brunelle’s form of communication online via emails and social media was not appropriate for anyone representing the town. They had to communicate more discreetly. F. Brunelle requested an example. C. Doble thought it appropriate to attend meetings, engage in conversation and make every effort to convey her thoughts to the best of her ability within the meeting. She did not use emails or social media (outside the public forum) to write about the topics that frustrated her or to promote an opinion or point of view. The pattern of communication he had been employing made her uncomfortable.

B. Robinson understood that it was easy to have a certain voice when one is just a member of the public.  As an appointed or elected official, one’s voice is constrained. The question he asked of F. Brunelle was whether he thought he could constrain his voice.  F. Brunelle indicated he could, and explained that he had resorted to such measures because he did not feel he had a voice in the public process.

At 5:01 PM, T. Israel informed the Board that the Selectmen had concluded the Executive Session that was held upstairs from the Green Room in the Katherine Cornell Theater, and were waiting for the Planning Board members and nominees to join them.

D. Seidman indicated that he had replied to F. Brunelle’s emails in the past, but stopped when he cc: his response to additional parties. He thought that was inappropriate. It was the reason that he no longer responded to his emails. It was a frustrating experience for him.  F. Brunelle inquired if they had a few minutes to discuss where they might agree or disagree and decide on the next step. C. Doble did not think it was the purpose for the interview. The issue they wanted to bring to his attention was that it was important that they worked together. B. Robinson thought it was important to see that there are moments where he had to stand back and question his own opinion to evaluate whether he needed to take another position, otherwise he’d dig in on one opinion, and try to figure out every possible way to substantiate the opinion. F. Brunelle thought B. Robinson raised an important point, but he did not feel he subscribed to the theory that he had the ultimate answer or right in every respect.

F. Brunelle complained that he was not given much opportunity to voice his opinion on the Beach Road project, and provided an example. The Planning Board advised F. Brunelle that they welcomed the dialogue but that they did not have the time to discuss the subject, since the Board of Selectmen had asked them to join them.

D. Seidman inquired if F. Brunelle would consider serving on the board as an associate. F. Brunelle inquired about the position and its responsibilities.  B. Robinson advised F. Brunelle there were three vacancies on the board they were trying to fill. Two of the positions were up for election in April, the alternate was a five year appointed position.  F. Brunelle inquired if he could attend meeting and express his opinions during meetings. C. Doble explained that the associate position participated in their discussions, but did not have the power to vote.  F. Brunelle was open to the offer.  He looked forward to joining the Planning Board.

D. Seidman inquired if there were additional comments or questions for F. Brunelle. There being none, he recommended a one minute recess to join the Board of Selectmen in the Katherine Cornell Theater, just up a flight of stairs from the Green Room.

5:02 PM Board of Selectmen re Planning Board Vacancies and Appointments
                Attendance:  T. Israel, Chairman; M. Loberg, Selectman; L. Gomez, Selectmen;
A. Jones, Adm. Secretary; J. Grande, Town Administrator; Holly and Henry Stephenson, F. Brunelle

T. Israel, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen understood that the Planning Board requested a joint session to discuss potential appointments. D. Seidman affirmed, noting that the Planning Board wanted to fill the vacancies on the board created by L. Anthony Peak and J. Thompson’s departures.  The nominees will be serving until April 2016 or elections, and have been encouraged to run for the one year and five year terms.

The board secretary provided the Board of Selectmen a packet with copies of the candidates’ letters of interest and resumes.

L. Gomez requested a clarification about the terms. D. Seidman replied that the candidates will serve until April 2016, and have to run for a position at the elections. They will have to decide whether they want to run for the one year term or the five year position on the Board. D. Seidman added that they had an associate position that was available, which was discussed with F. Brunelle during his interview.  

D. Seidman informed the Board of Selectmen that they’ve interviewed all three potential candidates, and were recommending the nomination of Dawn Bellante Holand and Holly Stephenson as members of the Board to fill L. Anthony Peak and Jeffrey Thompson’s vacancies and to have Frank Brunelle serve as an Associate Member.

T. Israel invited comments from the Board of Selectmen. L. Gomez inquired if H. Stephenson and F. Brunelle were in agreement. D. Seidman and fellow board members replied in the affirmative. H. Stephenson and F. Brunelle replied in the affirmative.

A. Jones recommended the nominations in the form of a motion. T. Israel recommended making the nominations one at a time. D. Seidman, Planning Board Chairman nominated Dawn Bellante Holand to serve on the Planning Board as a voting member. B. Robinson seconded the motion.
In the discussions that followed, it was clarified for the record that the terms were until this April 2015, because both nominees had to decide to run for either one of the two positions during elections.

T. Israel reiterated the motion, and asked for a vote.  T. Israel, M. Loberg, L. Gomez, D. Seidman, B. Robinson and C. Doble voted in favor of the motion.  6/0/0

T. Israel entertained another motion.  D. Seidman, Planning Board Chairman nominated Holly Stephenson to serve on the Planning Board as a voting member. B. Robinson seconded the motion.

T. Israel reiterated the motion, and asked for a vote.  T. Israel, M. Loberg, L. Gomez, D. Seidman, B. Robinson and C. Doble voted in favor of the motion.  6/0/0

D. Seidman, Planning Board Chairman moved to nominate F. Brunelle to serve as the Associate member on the Planning Board. B. Robinson seconded the motion.  A. Jones thought the term for the Associate position should complete C. Doble’s term which expired in June 30, 2017.

T. Israel asked for a vote.   M. Loberg, L. Gomez, D. Seidman, B. Robinson and C. Doble voted in favor of the motion. 5/0/1   T. Israel abstained.

There being no further discussion, T. Israel closed the discussions at 5:10 PM.  The Board of Selectmen signed a letter confirming Dawn Bellante Holand , Holly Stephenson and F. Brunelle’s appointments to serve on the Planning Board

It was subsequently noted and verified that the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board were meeting on Friday, 15 January 2015 at 1 PM.

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 5:12 P.M.           (m/s/c  3/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________  _________________________
Date            Daniel Seidman