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AYER — The Board of Selectmen authorized town administrator Shaun Suhoski to apply for a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG), but not without some debate.

The TAG could provide up to $30,000 to help the town update its zoning bylaws along smart growth principals and would dovetail with a $30,000 appropriation by town meeting for similar purposes, said Selectman Carolyn McCreary.

Complicating matters was a June 30 deadline, which had McCreary asking that the board authorize town administrator Shaun Suhoski to draft the grant requests and pre-approve them for submission prior to the board’s next meeting.

The proposal drew concerns from Selectman Pauline Conley, who was hesitant to give Suhoski a blank check. She wanted to ensure the board had a chance to review the grant language before it was submitted.

The board could read it in his office if need be, said Suhoski. When answering, he showed some exasperation with the multiple issues raised by Conley.

“We’re making this very difficult for something that should be a simple task,” he said.

Another issue was whether the town meeting appropriation could be used to cover the 15 percent town match required for the grant. Suhoski said it could.

“We already have the match, that’s the beauty of it,” he said.

Conley wasn’t so sure, saying the town meeting appropriation was to hire a consultant to help with putting the bylaws into an online format, saying a grant application to implement zoning changes was outside the scope of the town meeting appropriation.

That judgment could sit with the grant administrator, said board Chairman Frank Maxant, who indicated that it didn’t hurt to ask.

Selectman Gary Luca agreed the grant could be a good thing.

“If the grant is written correctly, it could benefit the town,” he said.

Conley made it clear she would read the application before it’s filed, and the board approved the motion unanimously.

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