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Hearing set on changes to Town Ways ordinance, administrative code

The Town Council will hold public hearings at their meeting Sept. 10, 2012 on proposed changes to two ordinances.

The changes would affect appeals to driveway-permit issuance; and, how the directors of Community Services and of facilities are listed in the Town's administrative code.

The first proposal, an amendment to the Town Ways ordinance, would shift responsibility as local decision-maker on appeals for driveway permits from the Town Council to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The move stems from an appeal on a driveway permit issued in the Stonegate neighborhood in 2010. "That had us acting as a quasi-judicial body, which is a little bit out the box for those of us who are not attorneys," said Councilor Jim Walsh, head of the council's ordinance subcommittee, at the council's meeting Aug. 13, 2012. During that appeal, three of the seven councilors recused themselves from deliberation for various conflicts-of-interest.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is a seven-member panel appointed by the Town Council to hear appeals of building permits and requests for variances to the zoning ordinance. Board decisions may be appealed to state Superior Court.

The ordinance committee met twice this summer to draft amendments to the Town Ways ordinance, chapter 17 in the Town's code of ordinance.

"As one the people who had to decide this (Stonegate appeal) I applaud this change," said Sara Lennon, council chair. Walsh said the ordinance committee also solicited input from interested parties, in this case the appellants of the Stonegate permit, who also supported the change.

Administrative Code

One proposed change to the administrative code, Chapter 2 in the code of ordinance, would remove the Community Services Director from the list of municipal positions not part of other departments. The change reflects Community Services' move to the auspices of the School Department, said Town Manager Michael McGovern.

The other proposed change to the administrative code shifts responsibility for appointment and removal of the facilities manager from the Town manager to the superintendent of schools.

The draft amendments to the administrative code reflect current practice, McGovern said.