Second Time A Charm: Sanderson Appointed To Planning Board

Photo: The Planning Board earlier this year.

For Edward “Sandy” Sanderson, the second time was a charm as the planning professional was appointed as an associated member of the Belmont Planning Board by a unanimous vote of the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, Oct. 30. 

Sanderson’s selection came six weeks since the Selectmen voted 2-1 to deny him a seat on the Board. The change now is the Planning Board has undergone a radical transformation since the mass resignation of three long-serving members this month. 

The Planning Board Chair Charles “Chuck” Clark asked the same board that skipped over Sanderson to select two other candidates – re-appointing sitting member Raffi Manjikian and selecting Dalton Road’s Stephen Pinkerton on Sept. 11 – recommended Sanderson for the associate membership as being “the most qualified candidate” of the resumes he had seen. 

Sanderson was a city planner for the City of Los Angeles and is currently an urban and transportation planner in the Boston office of a New York-based civil engineering firm.  Sanderson matriculated at Worcester Polytech and earned a master’s in planning from the University of Minnesota. 

The change in the composition of the Planning Board occurred after former chair Liz Allison and Barbara Fiacco resigned last week, following Manjikian’s lead leaving the board earlier in the month.

Manjikian fired off a heated letter to Williams accusing Clark of creating a hostile workplace after he accused Allison and Manjikian of abusing their positions in forwarding a public/private plan which included moving the Belmont Public Library to Waverley Square without speaking the Board of Library Trustees.

In an aside, Williams criticized the three former members for leaving their positions without providing notice of their actions.

“As far as I’m concerned, if someone is appointed, not only do they have a personal obligation but they have an obligation to the town to allow a more organized departure,” said Williams. “It’s not fair to the community to do it any other way.” 

Clark told the Selectmen adding Sanderson to the Planning Board’s will allow the body to reach a quorum to vote on issues brought before them, including requests for “special permits” – which includes superseding the town’s zoning bylaws – that requires a “super majority” decision that requires four votes. Clark said his board had four applications waiting to move forward but are at a standstill until Sanderson was appointed. 

This points to the reason why we need to move on this expeditiously,” said Selectman Adam Dash. 

As for filling the remaining two members, Selectmen Chair Jim Williams suggested opening the application process to a new round of resumes for ten days as the current ones on file “are stale.” 

Applicants can send resumes to the Town Administration Office until Nov. 9. The final decision on the two positions – one will be for a single year term and the other three years – will be made at the Selectmen’s Nov. 13 meeting. 

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