HARVARD — With town meeting behind them, the Planning Board is working to fill a now vacant associate member seat on the board. Three applicants are interested in the post.
The first applicant who spoke during the April 3 meeting was Peter Brooks, a Harvard resident for the past six years. Brooks has 26 years of experience as a trial lawyer. He spent half of those years as a land court lawyer, which was of particular interest to the board.
Brooks is also the only of the three applicants that is not currently on another Harvard board, which board Chairman Mary Essary considered an asset.
”It’s always nice to get new people,” said Essary. Brooks served on the Planning Board in Sherburn, Mass., the town he resided in previously.
”Planning and zoning have been my passion as a lawyer,” said Brooks. “A lot of it has been big and commercial, but some of it has been residential use.”
When board member Eric Nestler asked how Brooks would balance being a lawyer for developers with being on a Planning Board, Brooks clarified that he had also represented many residential groups opposing developers as well. He also mentioned that it had never been a problem when he was on the Sherburn Planning Board.
”What do you think reasonable goals for the Planning Board are?” asked Essary.
Most boards tend to be reactionary and need to do more actual planning, he said.
He also felt there was a real need for commercial growth, both for the revenue and for the services they provide to local residents. Regarding 40B developments he said they simply do not provide enough affordable housing.
The second applicant was Joseph Sudol, who is currently an associate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Sudol is a retiree living in Harvard. He is a licensed engineer who has worked in construction and environmental issues. He even worked in the former Soviet Union dealing with environmental problems.
”I want to see Harvard stay as it is,” said Sudol.
Sudol also said 40B developments would not get the town where it wants to go. The other problem with affordable housing developments in Harvard, Sudol pointed out, was transportation. He said developers shouldn’t put people with limited means in the middle of the woods with no transportation options.
”I think the Planning Board has more of an opportunity to make a difference,” he said.
The last applicant was Stephen Rowse, a 17-year Harvard resident. He has served on Harvard’s Conservation Commission and is currently on the Community Preservation Committee.
Harvard has done a good job of preserving its character, said Rowse, but the town is facing increasing pressure from 40B development and the need for revenue. He wants to preserve the character and culture of Harvard, but he was very impressed with Brooks and recommended the board select him for the associate position.
”I think it is a wonderful testament that the town is taking this seriously,” said board member Barbara Brady.
The vacancy was created after the recent elections, when Marc Sevigny stepped down from his full-member position on the board, and then-associate member Kara Minar was elected to take his place.
The board did not immediately pick an associate during the meeting. The individual will require the approval of the Board of Selectmen. The board tentatively scheduled its next meeting for April 18, which may be canceled if there are no approval not required (ANR) hearings ready by that date.