AYER -- In the first Zoning Board of Appeals meeting since voters cut the board's budget, members were told the ZBA would receive administrative support from the selectmen's office.

Voters zeroed out the ZBA's budget in May along with the Planning Board's budget, causing problems and turmoil on both boards.

The move effectively eliminated the salary of its administrator, Susan Sullivan, and came after voters expressed discontent with the way the boards were run.

The Zoning Board later struggled with a quorum after two members resigned when selectmen did not choose to appoint former selectman Pauline Conley to the board.

Now, the board consists of new appointees Howard Hall, Jeremy Callahan and Charles Shultz, with member Ron Defilippo.

Callahan, also a Planning Board member, cannot attend Planning Board meetings in Town Hall because of a harassment-prevention order placed against him by Sullivan. The order forbids him from being in Town Hall in the evening.

But the ZBA agreed to meet in the police station Thursday night, allowing Callahan to attend.

Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand told the board the selectmen's office will take care of administrative tasks now that Sullivan is gone.

"At this point, matters that will come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, whether they're filed with the town clerk or filed at the selectmen's office, we'll take in," he said. "That material will end up at the selectmen's office at this time and we'll distribute that to members here.



Pontbriand said either he or Carly Antonellis, the selectmen's secretary, will provide administrative support.

The selectmen's office has also been offering administrative help to the Planning Board while the town awaits a possible solution to the budget issue.

The board elected Callahan as chairman and went over some business matters, including accepting minor changes to an addition to the Randolph and Baldwin business at 17 Bligh St.

Attorney Brian Winner gave the group an overview of Open Meeting Law and the ZBA's role in town.

A larger project the board will act on at a future public hearing is a proposed gas station near the Gervais Ford car dealership off Littleton Road. The station would include a 3,200-square-foot convenience store with a drive-through doughnut shop. The project would also include a separate fuel area for trucks, and would require a few variances of the town's zoning bylaw.

Although the board has finally reached a quorum, it is still looking for a fifth member and two alternate members.