ADAMS -- Several crucial town boards are lacking either members or alternates, potentially causing headaches as the town reviews major proposals at sites such as the Greylock Glen.
The town zoning board of appeals, conservation commission, agricultural commission, and parks commission are all seeking volunteers to round out their board, and some are considering readjusting their size permanently.
In order to vote on the business before it, a majority of a board’s members must be present, which can cause problems for a board already understaffed. Throw in the other obligations of the volunteers who man it, and scheduling a meeting can become a tricky affair.
The Conservation Commission -- which is currently reviewing a massive state proposal to create 46 new miles of trail at the Greylock Glen -- is now holding meetings with only three of five permanent spots filled.
"The conservation commission is a very big concern," said Town Administrator Jonathan Butler. "We’ve been looking to fill seats on that board for a year now."
Selectman Joseph Nowak said he’s tried to find volunteers for the commission, but many people say they just don’t have the time.
"They would really like to do it, but they want to put their whole heart it," Nowak said. He also said the boards’ duties can be intimidating to an outsider, with much of it delving into state and federal conservation laws.
The ZBA is a particularly important board to have fully staffed, according to Butler, because its members frequently have to abstain from voting. For a number of reasons, such as personal business interests or relationships, a member could have to recuse him or herself from voting.
For example, ZBA member Brian Tenczar sat out during the controversial ZBA hearings that ultimately led to the approval of a 6,500-panel solar array on East Road because his home was near the potential building site.
"We’ve always had a quorum," said ZBA Chair Michael Mach. "But come summer, it’s not going to be that easy," noting that members have vacations and other obligations during the season. Mach, himself, is a baseball umpire.
The ZBA had been down to six out of a maximum eight members before Peter Gutmann rejoined as an alternate last year. In order to vote on a special variance, rules dictate that at least five members be present, Mach noted. Still, the board is seeking an eighth member.
"We’ve been lucky so far because there haven’t been a lot of applicants," Mach said.
The Agricultural Commission only has two of five members, though all three alternate seats are accounted for.
Butler said that anyone considering volunteering for a position is welcome to come down to Town Hall and find out more about it.
"We’re always willing to make ourselves available if they’re curious," he said.
Butler said the town rarely has an issue fielding candidates for Selectman or Planning Board to the same extent it does garnering interest in other boards.
"Sometimes it’s a great way to get your foot in the door," Butler said for those thinking of running for a higher town post in the future.
To reach Adam Shanks, email email@example.com