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By Anne O’Connor



Municipal government relies on volunteers to keep things running. Boards and committees help govern towns, establish policies and even distribute money.

In Townsend, six boards have vacancies. Two of the boards have only one current member.

“As always, we’re looking for fresh blood, for new people to be involved,” said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan. It is common for people to serve on more than one board and the town needs to broaden the group that helps the town.

Sometimes, a person moves from one board to another. Colin McNabb, elected to the Board of Selectmen during the spring town election, resigned from his seat on the Finance Committee. The town moderator has the last say about who will be appointed to fill the remaining two-years of the position.

Members of the Planning Board are usually elected. No one ran for the two available seats. Chris Nocella is well on the way to accepting a one-year term. He wrote his name in on the ballot, responded to the letter from the Planning Board, submitted a volunteer response form and plans to meet with the board on May 20.

The candidate must be appointed in a joint meeting between the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen, said Jeanne Hollows, co-land use coordinator. A second, one-year seat for an associate member is also vacant.

The Planning Board must approve special permits with a super-majority vote. Four of the five members must approve. The associate member is asked to attend all public hearings and vote if a full member is absent, she said.

Without all the members, the board faces challenges. “If one member has a conflict in scheduling, we must put off applicants and continue hearings until we can have all four members present at each session,” Hollows wrote in an email.

The Housing Authority is down to one member, Laura Schifrin. Kathleen Araujo was written in and has accepted a one-year position and needs to be sworn in. She was appointed to a seat last year.

Kevin Smith was written in for a five-year seat but has yet to accept the position this year, said Kathy Spofford, assistant town clerk. He was also appointed last year.

The Trust Fund Commissioners, a three-member board, is down to one member. Lynne LeBlanc was elected on the ballot. In the past few years, the board used money from the M C MacEarchern Memorial Fund to purchase a clock and brass plaque for the great hall where town meetings are held.

A two-year vacancy exists on the Board of Water Commissioners. The previous member submitted his resignation too late for the position to be included on the town election ballot, Spofford said.

The Conservation Commission will be down to four members on June 30. Two positions have been vacant for a year, one member will not renew. It is a seven-member board.

A vacancy, effective June 30 on the Energy Committee, may already be filled. As Karen Chapman, co-land use coordinator was posting the listing on the town website, she received a call from someone interested in the position.

Anyone interested in one of these positions can contact the town clerk or visit the town website at to obtain a volunteer response form.