The Bourne Planning Board has a new member. David O’Connor of Marian Lane in Monument Beach has been appointed to fill the seat on the board recently vacated by William F. Grant.
Mr. O’Connor’s appointment was made during a joint meeting of the planning board and the Bourne Board of Selectmen Tuesday night, November 5. He was the overwhelming favorite of both boards, earning nine of 13 possible votes.
There were three candidates vying for the sole vacant seat on the planning board. In addition to Mr. O’Connor, former board member Christopher J. Farrell and Monument Beach resident William C. Stafford also applied for the appointment.
The regular seat on the board became available with the recent resignation of Mr. Grant, who abruptly resigned from the board as of September 27. Mr. Grant was reelected to the planning board in last May’s Annual Town Election. Mr. O’Connor will fill Mr. Grant’s term on the board, which expires in 2022.
Mr. O’Connor said he has been a professional landscape architect for close to 40 years. He has also served on the Bourne Design Review Committee since its inception in 2013. He was instrumental in working with the Bourne Main Street Steering Committee to develop the master plan for the renovated Buzzards Bay Park.
His work has run the gamut from streetscapes to campus plans, athletic field designs, open space master plans and environmental impact reports, he said. He said that he would bring his professional experience to the board, along with something he has developed by working with developers and other boards and committees—the ability to listen.
“That’s the most important attribute that I would try and bring to this young planning board,” he said, “that is listen, add some comments where I had competence, but just have a respect for other people’s experience.”
Asked about his familiarity with the town’s zoning bylaws, Mr. O’Connor said he has become familiar with them through his work with the Design Review Committee. Town Planner Coreen V. Moore sits in on those meetings and often schools the members on the finer points of the bylaws, he said.
“Every time we learn something, we remember something,” he said.
Mr. Farrell was a member of the planning board for more than 14 years, and served as the board’s chairman for nine years before being voted off in May 2016. He has also served on the Bourne Bylaw Committee, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the Private Roads Acceptance Committee, and the building committees for Bournedale Elementary School, and the new Department of Public Works building.
He currently serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee, is a trustee of the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center, and a member of the Bourne Financial Development Corporation.
Despite his qualifications, members of both boards were hesitant to return Mr. Farrell to the planning board, given his employment by local developer Vincent P. Michienzi. Concerns were raised about the possibility of Mr. Farrell showing favoritism toward Mr. Michienzi, or negative bias against competing projects.
Mr. Farrell said he would recuse himself from any Michienzi project or competing endeavor. Mr. Potter argued that, given Mr. Michienzi’s extensive involvement with development of Buzzards Bay, Mr. Farrell would be too limited in his role on the planning board if he had to recuse himself too often.
From the planning board, Mr. O’Connor received votes from members Elmer I. Clegg, M. Elizabeth Brown, Jeanne L. Azarovitz, Sandra E. Goldstein and John G. Carroll.
Selectmen who voted for Mr. O’Connor were chairman Judith M. Froman, George G. Slade, Jared P. MacDonald, and James L. Potter.
Immediately following the vote, Mr. O’Connor was sworn in to his seat on the planning board by Bourne Town Clerk Barry H. Johnson.
Also voted in as an alternate member of the planning board was Buzzards Bay resident William W. (Dusty) Meier.