Monday, February 20, 2006

Council To Fill Board Vacancies

The City Council is expected to fill nearly a dozen vacancies on three major boards at its regular meeting tonight (Feb. 21, 2006).

The meeting is 8 p.m. at the Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

The seats on the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment expired Jan. 1 and the seats on the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority expired Feb. 1. The issue of timely appointments came up Saturday at a special meeting of the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Historic Preservation Commission Officials mentioned an Environmental Commission that was established in 2001, but no members have yet been appointed.

Nominees for the land use boards were invited to Saturday’s meeting, which was called to work on a unified vision for city upkeep and development. Historic Preservation Commission member Sandy Gurshman said the boards need to work with “any current administration” to make sure the boards are “peopled.”

Boards that are short of members may be unable to hold annual reorganizations or to get quorums to hear cases.

At the Feb. 13 agenda session, the council made some changes from the printed agenda. The final roster will be available tonight.

The nine-member Planning Board has four classes of members. Six are citizens appointed by the mayor with advice and consent of the council. One is the mayor or a designee, one is a council member and one is a city official. There are also two alternates.

As proposed Feb. 13, Councilman Cory Storch will succeed himself for 2006, as will Police Capt. Siddeeq El-Amin as the city official. Board member William Toth, whose four-year term ended Jan. 1, will become an alternate with a two-year term and former City Councilman Joseph Montgomery will serve the one-year balance of board member Barbara James’ term.

James, the new confidential assistant to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, resigned from her board term ending Jan. 1, 2007 and will be the mayor’s designee serving until Dec. 31, 2009.

The Board of Adjustment has seven members and two alternates, appointed by the mayor with advice and consent of the council.

The changes call for alternate member Melvin D. Cody to take the balance of a four-year term to Dec. 31, 2008, a vacancy caused by the resignation of Michael Worlds. Leroy Gallman will replace Cody as an alternate, for a two-year term ending in 2008. Ivan Flores will succeed Linda Hines for a four-year term ending in 2009 and alternate J. Frank Johnson will complete the unexpired term of Sandy Lawrence, who resigned. The unexpired term will be up at the end of 2006.

The Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority has five commissioners and two alternates, appointed by the mayor with advice and consent of the council.

Former member William Reid will return for a five-year term, replacing Philip Bartlett. Alex Toliver will become an alternate for a two-year term, replacing Wilbert Gill.

Last year, a citizens’ group sought more access to boards and commissions. The council passed the Civic Responsibility Act of 2005, with provisions that include posting of all appointive positions, the requirements for applicants and many other details, including a means of submitting a resume. The full text of the ordinance is on the city’s web site at but the pertinent information on boards and commissions was never posted there as the new law required. It was not clear whether any of the appointees up for a vote on Tuesday applied through the new process.

--Bernice Paglia


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