Council votes ‘no’ on Mass
Overwhelming rejection of mayor’s Planning Board choice
GREENFIELD — After almost an hour of discussion about local lawyer Isaac Mass’ impressive qualifications, Town Council voted to deny his appointment to the Planning Board on Wednesday night.
“Every councilor said he was qualified and then voted him down,” said former At-large Councilor Daniel Guin, who attended the meeting to speak in favor of Mass. “The charter says the mayor should appoint someone who is qualified.”
Mass, who is a former town councilor and former Planning Board member, was the victim of a back-and-forth between the mayor and Town Council over the past couple of weeks, with the mayor saying he wanted someone who understood the town’s zoning bylaws and that he wanted to replace James Allen, whose reappointment the council denied earlier this summer, with Mass to keep the board makeup similar to what it was when the big box project was approved by the board a couple of years ago.
The project is currently being appealed and could return to the board for another review.
Guin told councilors earlier in the night that Mass, who was suggested by the board’s chairwoman, picked by the mayor, and who stepped forward to accept the appointment, should be allowed to serve.
“There is no reason a past Planning Board member and past councilor who has served his community for years should be rejected tonight,” said Guin.
Mass told the council he would be fair and unbiased in his decisions, but that wasn’t enough to convince the five councilors who make up the Appointments and Ordinances Committee and voted last week to send a recommendation to deny his appointment to the full council, as well as four others, whose votes were needed to make up a super majority to block the appointment.
Precinct 5 Councilor David Singer said, before the vote was taken, that he planned to vote against Mass’ appointment. He asked fellow councilors to vote the same.
Singer reminded the council that the mayor has “great latitude” in his appointments to boards and that the council needed to send a message that it wasn’t just going to rubber stamp every appointment.
“Any other time and any other place,” Singer told Mass.
Singer said he wants to see someone with a “different perspective,” who will think outside the big box issue, put on the board to replace Allen.
At-large Councilor Mark Maloni said he was disturbed with the mayor’s decision to withdraw the names of two other candidates, George Touloumtzis and Wilson Roberts, earlier this summer.
Maloni said there were two qualified candidates ready to take their places on the board when the mayor pulled them after Allen’s reappointment was denied by the council.
Others expressed the same dismay, all addressing Mass and telling him it was not personal.
While some councilors said they didn’t like that they have been accused of politicizing the issue, they said the politicizing all started with Touloumtzis’ and Roberts’ withdrawals.
Council Vice President Hillary Hoffman said she received “a number” of calls from people in Precinct 6 from residents who were not in support of Mass.
In the end, At-large Councilor Dalton Athey abstained and Precinct 3 Councilor Brickett Allis was absent from the meeting and did not vote. The remaining 11 councilors voted to deny Mass’ appointment.
Councilors said they hope Martin brings another appointee before them soon.