Planning Board Seeking Two New Members To Join ‘Congenial’ Group

Photo: The Planning Board’s acting Chair Stephen Pinkerton.

With two empty seats on the group, the Belmont Planning Board is looking to close the gap before the start of a busy fall season, said acting Planning Board Chair Stephen Pinkerton.

“We are reaching out to residents who want to volunteer to serve with a group that is doing some important work for the community,” said Pinkerton, who took over from the previous Chair, Charles Clark, who stepped down after serving nine years on the board.

The board is seeking candidates to fill a full-time vacancy – with the departure of Clark – and an associate member’s position. For both seats, “clearly there’s a need for someone who has strategic or master planning experience,” said Pinkerton.

Those interested in applying for the positions can go the town’s “Talent Bank.”

Created to protect and preserve the character and quality of life that defines Belmont, the Planning Board will face a number of high profile cases coming before its docket in the coming months including a residential and educational development on the two last open parcels at McLean Hospital, multiuse construction along South Pleasant Street and creating bylaws on short-term rentals such as those on AirBnB.

Pinkerton said one area of expertise the board would like to add is someone with legal experience.

“We have a good representative group with planning background so it will be useful to get a lawyer on board,” said Pinkerton who said McLean specifically “will not be an easy one” to resolve as the town and hospital are working within a land management agreement created 20 years ago this November.

While the associate member is not a full voting member, Clark said it’s likely whoever is appoved by the Select Board will be the board’s representative on the 2020-2030 Belmont Comprehensive Plan, which is the framework to guide future decisions and policies governing a wide range of land-use related issues in town.

Creating a new town master plan will “not be a start from scratch” project, said Pinkerton but rather skillfully taking out what has been accomplished since the last revision and help input policies approved by the Planning Board such as the Housing Production and energy plans.

Pinkerton believes a one-time member of the Warrant Committee or the Capital Projects Committee would be ideal for the position.

The Board will be taking its time during August to find the best person to join “a really congenial group. We’re not a fire brand agency,” said Pinkerton.

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