Published February 20, 2020


NORTH READING — Multiple appointments of volunteers to a variety of boards, committees and commissions were made by the Select Board February 10, all by unanimous votes. These appointments filled a number of vacancies that have come up since the end of December 2019.

It was a calm, reasoned and quick process; the polar opposite of the board’s mid-December meeting when Paul O’Leary, a 30-year member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), was passed over for reappointment by a 3-2 split in favor of a new member, Robert Breen, on the recommendation of board liaison Andrew Schultz.

The fallout of the December decision resulted in two other longtime ZBA members submitting letters of resignation to the Select Board. Stepping down from their posts were James Demetri, the board’s chairman, who had been reappointed to a three-year term in December 2019 and was a member of the ZBA since 1998, and Joseph Keyes, who had one more year remaining on his current term. Keyes was first appointed as an associate member in 1999 and a full member in 2006. They both resigned following the ZBA’s January 9 meeting after tying up loose ends, some of which involved an executive session with town counsel to bring the new member and board’s three associate members up to speed on the town’s 20 Elm St. 40B appeal. Demetri and Keyes wanted to ensure that a smooth transition was made prior to stepping down given the complexities of the 40B process.

With a call by the Select Board for more volunteers to step forward to fill these ZBA vacancies, a slate of five potential candidates for the two full member spots were recommended by Schultz — Jennifer Platt, who was an associate member of the ZBA for 14 years; Vincent Ragucci, Frank Gazzola, Jeffrey Stolz and Maria Lockhart.

By a 5-0 vote, Ragucci was appointed to fill an unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2021.

In the second round of voting, Platt was appointed to the unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2020, by a 5-0 vote.

The ZBA has three voting members and three associate members who step in to vote in the absence of a voting member. Since appointments last for three years, typically only one full member per year should be in the rotation for re-appointment. For an unknown reason, at some point in the past the staggered order of this appointment schedule was disrupted resulting in the need to make two full member appointments in December, Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto had told the Transcript. Therefore, they adjusted the appointment schedules to ensure that one would be in effect for two years and the other would be in effect for one year. Breen’s appointment is the three-year term and expires Dec. 31, 2022.

With Platt now voted in as a full member, the remaining four candidates were nominated for the associate member seat to which she had been appointed through Dec. 31, 2020. By a 5-0 vote, Lockhart received the board’s endorsement.

Conservation Commission

Far less controversial were the remaining appointments. A full membership seat was available on the Conservation Commission to fill the unexpired term previously held by Tim Allen, who retired, through Dec. 31, 2020. There were two candidates recommended by board liaison Stephen O’Leary. They were Lauren Beshara, a current associate member, and Yan Huang. By a 5-0 vote, Beshara was appointed.

To fill the unexpired associate member term previously held by Beshara through Dec. 31, 2022, five names were nominated: Huang, Erinne Matte-Daniels, Chris Lippert, James Cheney and Alison Pappavaselio. O’Leary recommended James Cheney for the seat and he was appointed by a 5-0 vote.

Library Trustees

One opening exists for an unexpired term on the Library Trustees through Dec. 31, 2020. Seven names were submitted for consideration but the board opted to table a vote on this appointment until a subsequent meeting.

Veterans Event Committee

Three residents were nominated to fill one unexpired term on the Veterans Event Committee through Dec. 31, 2021 — Deborah Aldrich, Michele Reid and Daniel Mahoney. Select Board member Liane Gonzalez serves as the liaison to this committee and she recommended Aldrich who was appointed to the post by a 5-0 vote.

A subsequent vote in which Aldrich was appointed to an unexpired term on the same committee, through Dec. 31, 2020, was rescinded later in the meeting. The opening had been intended for a closely related committee called the Veterans Memorial Committee. This appointment will be reconsidered at an upcoming meeting.