By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Most members of the Board of Selectmen voiced their support for the embattled Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) during the selectmen's Nov. 4 meeting, in the wake of a Town Meeting decision that allowed the ZBA to keep its ability to grant a use variance.
During a report to his fellow board members on the Town Meeting, Selectman Aaron Hutchins inquired whether his board ought to revisit zoning board appointments and as to which circumstances ZBA members may not be reappointed.
Town Meeting voters Oct. 28 overwhelmingly rejected a change to the bylaw that would eliminate the Zoning Board of Appeal's ability to grant use variances. However, the debate, at times, seemed to shift focus from the use variance to the ZBA itself.
During the Town Meeting debate, Hutchins said that some residents have become discontent with the ZBA's decisions regarding a number of projects over the last couple of years, and added that the ZBA also failed to adequately educate the public about their deliberation process
The use variance article, which needed a two-thirds majority in order to pass, failed with 84 votes in favor, 151 opposed. Selectman William Pantazis noted that more residents signed the petition to get the use variance question on the warrant than actually voted for the article.
The zoning board is frequently in the middle of contentious debates between applicants and abutters, according to Pantazis.
“I think they do a great job,” Pantazis said. “I's not happy with every single decision they make, but I's happy with the work that they do.”
Zoning board members were being unfairly “vilified” in the debate, according to Selectman Jeff Amberson, a sentiment that was echoed by the board's chair, Leslie Rutan.