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Membership woes leave Peabody zoning board short

Staff writer

Without a president and one member short of a full board since the beginning of January, Peabody Planning and Zoning is a few peas shy of a pod.

Working without a full board is difficult because the experience and perspective available becomes more limited, board member Hope Reynolds said.

The job is easier when members have relevant knowledge and experience before they join, but Planning and Zoning doesn’t have that luxury, she said.

“I definitely learn as we go, but I’d rather learn beforehand and be knowledgeable,” she said. “Instead of being at meetings and saying, ‘I don’t know, I have to look into it,’ I’d rather have that knowledge in hand.”

Although one member was absent from the Feb. 4 meeting, the other three active members did have a majority. Reynolds ended up leading the meeting.

“I think some of the members don’t feel comfortable doing that,” she said. “I just stepped into the role in the moment.”

While the board meets most months, it doesn’t make much difference because final decisions are made by the city council, board member Kenny Rogers said.

“If the zoning board had more authority to do stuff, people might take it more seriously,” he said. “Three-quarters of it is a waste of time as far as I’m concerned.”

With the current format, the board makes recommendations to the city council, but that limits the zoning board’s authority, Rogers said.

Having subcommittees and boards working under the city council is standard, city council president Jay Gfeller said.

“That’s how a lot of the boards are set up, to be able to take on some of those responsibilities, and make recommendations,” he said

Despite lacking members, the board serves an important role in Peabody, Gfeller said.

“They’re the envisioning

zoning

from page 1

team for the future of the city,” he said.

The meeting Feb. 4 centered on the de-annexation of the properties of Mark Diecker, and Martin Nellans, which was deferred to the zoning board by the city council. Both homes fall within city limits, but they lie to the north of US-50, separated from the rest of Peabody.

A public forum will be held in April for residents to voice opinions.

Last modified Feb. 13, 2019

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