Old faces named to Planning Commission
Posted: January 15, 2013
The Winchester Star
MIDDLETOWN — The locality’s efforts to expand its boundaries — an issue that helped propel the Town Council into turmoil early in 2012 — will resume with the appointment of two new Planning Commission members who were casualties of last year’s fallout.
Gilbert “Gil” Barrington and John Blaisdell — both of whom resigned March 12 in a raucous Town Council meeting that also saw former Mayor Marshall J. “Mark” Brown step down — were approved for the two seats Monday night.
At its regular meeting, the Town Council also approved the resignation of Planning Commission Chairman Walter McCauly. He was not at the meeting, and it was not immediately clear why he resigned.
Mark Davis, who was elected to the Town Council in 2008 but lost his re-election bid Nov. 6, will remain on the commission.
Fred Wharton, who serves on as the town’s zoning administrator on an as-needed basis, was also appointed to the group.
The appointments to what is supposed to be a seven-member group — which now has six — were unanimous.
Councilors said they had no reservations about appointing Barrington and Blaisdell to the commission, even though they resigned their council seats last year.
“Absolutely none,” said John Copeland.
Barrington said the council was so dysfunctional at the beginning of 2012 that it was impossible to accomplish anything.
“I wanted to do business. I didn’t want to do monkey business,” he said.
He thinks that with the new, more professional attitude of the council he’ll be able to do the former now.
Copeland — who was appointed last year as an interim council member and elected Nov. 6 to a fill out an unexpired term that runs until Dec. 31, 2014 — was chosen as vice-mayor.
The new members of the Planning Commission said they will continue to pursue an update to the town’s comprehensive plan — which is necessary in order to adjust the locality’s boundaries.
Updating the plan has vexed the commission for the past three to four years, Davis said.
Local resident Robbie Molden, who lives on the east side of Interstate 81, is hopeful that the town can successfully adjust its boundaries and bring his property into the town.
He also proposed that the town use the additional revenue from an extended tax base resulting from the possible expansion to help the Wayside Theatre — which has recently experienced financial difficulty — and buy the Wayside Inn, which is up for sale.
Attending the meeting at the Town Hall were Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV and council members Carole Snyder, Clarence “Trip” Chewning, John Copeland, Thomas Simon and Mary Shull.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com