Chair booted from planning board

TREMONT — Planning Board Chairman Scott Grierson’s absence from the board’s last six meetings are unexcused and disqualify him from continuing to serve on the board, selectmen decided Monday.

Two selectmen were absent from the meeting and three remaining members all agreed Grierson had neglecting his responsibility to the town with the extended absence.

Selectmen made the decision based on a recommendation from the planning board to fill the vacancy at the board’s earliest convenience. Grierson’s position on the board was set to expire in 2022.

“I say we search for someone else to fill the position,” said Selectman Mike Mansolilli. “I feel if you are the chairman of a board, it’s kind of an important position… There’s no doubt in my mind it’s unexcusable.”

Attendance issues on the planning board were first brought to selectmen at a December meeting regarding member Linda Graham.

The planning board, at its Jan. 8 meeting, recommended selectmen waive the attendance provision in Graham’s case, excusing the absences because of health issues. Selectmen approved that recommendation Jan. 22.

The town’s ordinance governing the planning board states when a member fails to attend four consecutive meetings or 75 percent of the meetings during the previous 12-month period, he or she is subject to being removed.

Also at its Jan. 8 meeting, the planning board asked Town Manager Chris Saunders to contact Grierson and ask him when he plans to return to fulfill his duties on the board. In an emailed response to Saunders, Grierson said he would return in two months from the Jan. 14 inquiry.

When he left town in October, Grierson sent an email from the airplane notifying members of the planning board that he was embarking on a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” and asked that it be excused.

“I am happy to technically remain chairman and resume that … role immediately upon return with our vice chairman moderating meetings this winter,” wrote Grierson.

An attendance update was provided for selectmen at their Jan. 22 meeting in which they were notified of the decision to excuse Graham’s absences. Selectmen decided at that meeting to wait to make a decision regarding Grierson’s lack of attendance until the planning board could make a recommendation.

There is currently a vacant seat on the planning board, which is intended to have seven members.

At a Jan. 29 meeting, the remaining five members of the planning board voted 3-2 to recommend that selectmen declare a vacancy for Grierson’s seat.

Mark Good, Linda Graham and Wayne Patton voted in favor while vice chairman Susan Snyder and Geoff Young were opposed to the motion.

Grierson also holds a seat on the Tremont School Board that expires in 2020. Heidi Lawson, who chairs that board, said the issue of Grierson’s lack of attendance is slated to be discussed at its next meeting on Feb. 14.

“We did get a little more notice,” said Lawson about whether Grierson had let them know previous to leaving town that he would be gone through the winter months. “We do have to decide whether he’s going to be excused or unexcused.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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