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Martin backs Mass for seat on Planning Board

Committee to review mayor’s nomination

GREENFIELD — Mayor William Martin has appointed local lawyer Isaac Mass to fill the seat left vacant by former Planning Board member James Allen when Town Council denied his reappointment earlier this summer.

Martin could not be reached on Monday for comment about why he chose Mass and whether anyone else had expressed interest in the position.

The mayor submitted the necessary paperwork for Mass’ appointment to the town clerk’s office on Sept. 26, so now it will go to the council, which always sends appointments and reappointments to its Appointments and Ordinances Committee to be reviewed first. The committee then makes a recommendation to the full council.

Martin originally reappointed Allen to the seat, and at the same time appointed George Touloumtzis and Wilson Roberts to two alternate seats on the board.

The council voted to deny Allen’s reappointment and approved Touloumtzis and Roberts, but Martin withdrew his appointment of both men. When councilors challenged the mayor’s decision to withdraw their names, Martin took the issue to the town’s lawyers, who agreed he had the right to do so.

Mass, who could not be reached for comment on Monday, became a lawyer in 2011.

“We need a fifth member, there’s no question,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Roxann Wedegartner. “It makes sense to appoint someone who understands the role and responsibilities of both the board and the council.”

Mass had previously served on the town’s Planning Board, as well as its Board of License Commissioners and Open Space and Recreation Committee. He was also a four-term member of the Town Council — two as Precinct 9 councilor on the former 27-member council and two as an at-large councilor on the 13-member council.

Mass served as chairman on both the council’s Economic Development Committee and Ways and Means Committee.

Mass said in a letter to the mayor that while he was on the Planning Board it adopted the town’s adult entertainment bylaw and cluster housing subdivision bylaw, reviewed plans for planned urban development, initiated the goals and objectives of the current Master Plan, and reviewed site plans for many commercial and residential developments.

“He possesses a lot of experience,” said Wedegartner. “I’m not sure anyone else who came forward has that kind of experience or knowledge.”

Wedegartner said Mass is an excellent candidate who is willing to serve and has the qualifications, so should be appointed.

“I hope Town Council takes his appointment and qualifications seriously,” said Wedegartner, who said she also hopes the mayor makes appointments to the board’s two alternate seats in the near future.

Mass was one of the original members of Citizens for Growth, a group that formed in Greenfield in 2002 to support Home Depot and other large-scale development.

He supported a big box store coming to town several years before Home Depot and later he supported BJ’s Wholesale and Walgreen’s.

If Mass’ appointment is approved, he will serve on the Planning Board until June 30, 2016, and that means Mass will most likely have a say in the current big box project, which could come back to the town’s Planning Board if a Housing Court judge decides certain issues, like traffic, need to be re-reviewed.

Many of the town’s current councilors have voiced concern over large-scale development, including the big box proposed for French King Highway, saying it is too large at 135,000 square feet.

The only way the council could stop Mass from taking his seat on the board would be to deny the mayor’s appointment with nine votes.

Mass is currently serving on the State Ballot Law Commission as the appointee of Gov. Deval Patrick and is active in the Loyal Order of Moose, as the state chairman of its Youth Awareness Program.

He also chairs the American Legion District 2 High School Oratorical Contest and is a coach for the Greenfield Recreation Department’s Pee Wee soccer program. He also volunteers at the high school.

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