Gillespie appointed to Northborough’s Open Space Committee following heated discussion

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By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter

NorthboroughNORTHBOROUGH – The Northborough Planning Board debated which member should serve on the Open Space Committee during their Aug. 3 meeting.

During the discussion, board member Michelle Gillespie alleged that board member Anthony Ziton had attended Open Space Committee meetings and voted despite not being appointed to the committee.

“I’ll tell you, in all my years on the Planning Board, I’ve never seen anyone attend a meeting, vote on behalf of the Planning Board when they’ve never been appointed,” Gillespie said. “That was very concerning on my part.”

She said other people brought that matter to her attention.

The Planning Board originally discussed subcommittee appointments during their June 1 meeting. At that time, Ziton expressed interest in joining the Groundwater Advisory Committee and Vice Chair Amy Poretsky expressed interest in the Design Review Committee.

Planning Board member Millie Milton and Chair Kerri Martinek expressed interest in staying on the Community Preservation Committee and the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), respectively.

Gillespie said she would rather be appointed to the Groundwater Advisory Committee over the Open Space Committee. She also expressed interest in the CMRPC.

Martinek said she wanted to stay on the CMRPC because she was slated to be on the executive committee. She said Gillespie could attend the meeting.

Gillespie said she would prefer to stay on the Design Review Committee. Martinek, however, suggested she take a different assignment.

“I think for Design Review, I would like to see some new leadership on that team,” Martinek said. “You’ve been there for a while, and I think it’s time to give someone else a chance at it.”

She asked Milton if she was interested in the Open Space Committee. Milton said she would rather stay with the Community Preservation Committee, adding that she didn’t know what
the commitment was for the Open Space Committee.

No one was appointed to the Open Space Committee.

Martinek said the board could come back to the topic and asked Gillespie if she was interested in the committee or if she would prefer to do work with CMRPC.

“I’ll get back to you,” Gillespie said.

Martinek said they would leave the position open and revisit it in July.

Ziton had been the previous board representative on the Open Space Committee. He then attended the committee’s June 7 meeting.

During that meeting, Conservation Agent Mia McDonald asked if Ziton would be staying as the Planning Board representative.

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We as a board are still working through that.”

“The meeting was due,” Ziton said during the Aug. 3 Planning Board meeting, responding to Gillespie’s comments. “I figured that someone should attend. I had been sitting on Open Space. I think you’re making a point out of nothing here. Someone on Planning Board should have been there, so I took the initiative to do that.”

Gillespie said Milton had also been interested in being on the committee but didn’t know what night they met.

“I don’t understand why you would go to a meeting that you’re not even appointed for,”
Gillespie said.

“You’re making an issue out of nothing,” Ziton responded.

It’s not disclosed, Gillespie said, reiterating that Ziton wasn’t appointed to the board.

“You went and voted [on] things for the Planning Board. You haven’t even brought up what you’ve voted on to the Planning Board, and you were never appointed there. You just took it upon yourself to go,” Gillespie said.

“I’m not going to argue with you. You’re the one that said, ‘I’ll get back to you,’” Ziton
said.

He asked if anyone got back, and Martinek said no one reached out.

“If you wanted to be on it, nobody reached out to me. I think it’s on you if you say ‘I’ll have to think about it,’ is what you said,” Martinek said.

Gillespie said they were waiting on the time of the meetings.

“Kerri, this is your role as a chair,” she said.

Gillespie said that, now that she knows that the meetings are on Monday, she would be
happy to be appointed to the Open Space Committee.

She was unanimously appointed to the committee and attended their August 4
meeting.