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Carbondale board ready for adjustment

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The all-new member Carbondale Board of Adjustment (BoA) met for the first time on Jan. 30. The members may be new to the BoA, but all bring some level of expertise from having served on other Town boards.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees recently appointed seven BoA members; Meredith Bullock, Mark Chain, Russ Criswell, Jeff Dickinson, Ann Gianinetti, Matthew Gworek, and April Spaulding. Spaulding serves as first alternate and Criswell as second alternate.

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The meeting agenda included the election of a Board Chair and Vice-Chair. Matthew Gworek was elected Chair and Mark Chain was elected Vice-Chair by unanimous roll call votes.

The bulk of the BoA agenda focused on training and preparing a new slate of Board members for their responsibilities and possible situations they may encounter during their tenure. Planning Director Janet Buck and Town Attorney Mark Hamilton provided the background information and training.

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As Buck describes the BoA’s duties, “The BoA considers variances from the [Town’s] development code. This covers relief from zoning parameters such as building height, how far a building should be from the property line (setback), parking requirements, etcetera.” Buck adds the Board considers appeals of administrative decisions related to land use.

Buck provided the Board with an introduction to the Planning Department, followed by an overview of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan and the Carbondale Unified Development Code (UDC). She ended with a review of the land use application process and how citizen applicants appear before the Board at public hearings.

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Language in the UDC regarding BoA participation strives to have five Board members in attendance at all meetings. The UDC states, in the event fewer than five persons “are available to serve due to absence, conflict of interest or otherwise, members of the Carbondale Planning and Zoning Commission shall be special alternate members of the BOA to hear matters in such circumstances as special alternate members.”

Hamilton covered legal topics, which included disclosure, conflicts of interest, recusals, and bias. Any Board member who has a question about a potential conflict scenario is instructed to contact either Buck or Hamilton. When the question of a conflict arises, Buck underscores, “We would rather have people err on the safe side and check in if there is any question.”

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Buck is eager to start the work. “I am excited about the new Board of Adjustment,” she said. “It is an impressive group of people and I look forward to working with them.”

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