Expansion of the Planning Commission from seven to nine seats is agenda item 10) a) for the Selectboard meeting of May 9. The Selectboard was ready to vote on this matter at the April 25 meeting but the Board decided to wait in order to give the public more notice.
In May 2017
, ten members of the public encouraged the Selectboard to expand the Planning Commission, based on correspondence in the Selectboard packet for the May 10, 2017 meeting
. The concern then was the Planning Commission did not adequately represent the views of many residents in its drafting of the Town Plan. At the May 10 meeting, Planning Commission Chair “Jeff Goodrich expressed opposition to expanding the Planning Commission," say the meeting minutes
. The Selectboard apparently did not discuss the issue at that meeting.
The Selectboard packet for the upcoming meeting
contains three emails expressing concern about expansion. One says: "Interest in permanent town committees with statutory roles, such as the Planning Commission, can wax and wane -- and altering the number of positions could end up making a yo-yo of such committees."
My take is that the Planning Commission could benefit from some fresh viewpoints. The Selectboard's 'rewriting' of the proposed Town Plan indicates the Planning Commission may no longer have its fingers directly on the pulse of Norwich. To avoid the risk of groupthink, the Selectboard can expand the number of Commission members, perhaps unwieldy or perhaps not, or in the alternative, decline to reappoint a very well-qualified current member.