TOWNSEND -- Selectmen made preliminary plans Tuesday night to establish a committee charged with reviewing and editing the town's charter.

Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said the committee would finish the work of another group that corrected some grammatical issues earlier this year.

Sheehan said that group reported that the document needed more substantive changes that were outside of its authority.

"The benefit of this review now, almost 15 years in, is that we can look at the way it's operating and try to massage those areas and streamline it," Sheehan said.

Chair Sue Lisio said the charter, established in 1999, has problems with unclear wording that can be easily misinterpreted. She described this process as "a one-time clean-up."

"This is so we can look and say, 'are there things that looking back at it might not be exactly what we intended,'" Lisio said.

Sheehan suggested that the committee have between seven and nine members. He said too few members could make for less diversity of input, while too many voices would be cumbersome.

The committee could be appointed by the selectmen rather than elected as before, Sheehan said.

Selectman Robert Plamondon said that while he usually prefers electing rather than appointing board members, he thought appointing would streamline the process, while the public having to vote on any changes to the charter would ensure accountability.

"Any potential changes would have to be approved by the voters, so there's a safeguard there," Plamondon said.


Selectmen will also set a timeline for the committee to submit a final report.

Any changes would be presented at a future Town Meeting, possibly in the spring of 2015, Sheehan said.

Sheehan will be presenting a memo to selectmen explaining their options for determining the board's makeup and timeline for further discussion at a future meeting.