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Butler resigns from Wilbraham Planning Board

Date: 5/29/2014

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM – Longtime Planning Board member Richard Butler recently announced he was stepping down.

At its May 21 meeting, Butler informed the board of his intention to resign from his position, effective June 20, leaving a vacancy that would have to be filled. Butler was present at the meeting and submitted his resignation formally through a letter to the chair.

“Effective June 20, 2014, I will resign from the Wilbraham Planning Board and therefore will not complete the last year of my five-year term. My service with the [Pioneer Valley Planning Commission] as the Wilbraham commissioner and member of the executive committee will also cease on June 20,” the letter read. “I have been honored to serve my town and my region for over 35 years in planning process. I hope I’ve made a difference and that our town and region will continue their orderly growth.”

Planning Board Chair Frederick Fuller thanked Butler for his service to the town after reading the letter into the record and related memories of their time on the board together from days past.

“Thirty-five years is a rather worthy performance,” he said. “I share approximately that many years and it feels like we’ve got the old days, the medium days and now we’ve got the present days and we were a much busier outfit in the first 15 to 20 of those. We were meeting every other week until 11 p.m. and sometimes had three meetings a month.

“It’s good to have that perspective on how we used to do things, but it’s always going to be that youth will move in and show us some other stuff,” he continued.

The Planning Board is aligned in such away that the five members serve staggered five-year terms and as a result, in a normal cycle, one seat is on the Annual Town Meeting ballot every year. Because the resignation took place after the Annual Town Election on May 17, Butler’s seat would not be filled through an election, Planning Director John Pearsall told Reminder Publications.

“When a vacancy opens up this far away from the next annual town election, the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board meet and vote to jointly appoint someone to fill the vacant seat until the next annual town election and that person would then have to run for election at that time to remain on the board for the balance of the term of the vacant seat,” he said.

Because Butler was entering the final year of his five-year term, the winner of the town’s May 2015 election, will start a new five-year term.

Pearsall added that in the interim, it was likely that associate member Tracey Plantier would fill Butler’s vacancy. Plantier, a member of the Open Space and Recreation Committee as well as the Wilbraham Vision Action Team, was chosen as the associate member in the fall 2013, beating out residents David Ortendahl and John Boudreau.

“Normal practice has been to promote the associate member of the board to the vacant seat since the associate position serves as a kind of informal training for serving on the Planning Board,” Pearsall said.