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Granite Quarry board rejects four-year term for mayors

 

GRANITE QUARRY — Let it ride.

The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen voted 4-0 Thursday night to keep mayoral elections at every two years, not four.

Earlier this year, aldermen had proposed amending the town charter and going to four-year mayoral terms, but recently it seemed everyone on the town board, including Mayor Bill Feather, had a change of heart.

Feather made his feelings clear last month during a public hearing on the charter amendment: “The mayor is responsible to the citizens of Granite Quarry to do a good job,” Feather said then. “If the mayor is not being productive, four years may be too long a term.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Brinkley acknowledged Thursday night that he was in favor of the four-year term initially because it’s difficult to run for election every two years. But he said after a lot of thought and conversations, he had changed his mind.

Alderman Arin Wilhelm said he also liked the idea originally, but he now agreed with resident Doug Shelton, who said during a public-comment period earlier that a two-year term for mayor hadn’t been given enough election cycles to see how it works.

The town first went to a separate mayoral election in 2015. Aldermen are elected to four-year terms, with two seats up for election every two years.

Feather won that 2015 election and will be up for re-election this year.

Wilhelm also noted the General Assembly has been discussing changes to when municipal elections will be held, so it might be wise to hold off for now.

Alderman Jim LaFevers said the board might not be giving the two-year mayoral term adequate time to see if it works. Alderman Jim Costantino, who was elected to the board in 2015, betrayed that he wasn’t aware the mayor had been elected by voters in 2015. He thought the mayor was still chosen among the board members themselves.

Filing for the 2017  municipal election opens today. The mayoral seat of Feather and the alderman seats of Brinkley and Wilhelm are up for election.

Aldermen voted 4-0 against another proposal Thursday night — an effort to add building design guidelines and restrictions for the central business district.

During the public-comment period, in advance of the board’s discussing the building design guidelines, Shelton said the town needs to improve its image and be more welcoming to business.

In the end, Feather and other board members complained the proposed design requirements — an outgrowth of its downtown master plan — did not receive the proper time and vetting by the Planning Board.

“It has not gotten the review it deserves,” Brinkley said.

The Planning Board is there to provide more eyes and more input, Brinkley said, and he suggested that did not happen in this case. The Planning Board approved the guidelines at its June 12 meeting.

Wilhelm said the government process often takes too long, but the Planning Board members should have taken the 45 minutes or whatever was needed to read over the proposed guidelines.

Feather said it is the Board of Aldermen’s responsibility to give the Planning Board members, who are volunteers, as much support and training as they need. And it should be noted, Feather said, that “I think they have a lot of criticism of us.”

Costantino suggested a joint meeting between the boards, and Feather asked Town Manager Phil Conrad to set it up.

The Planning Board chairman and another board member have resigned recently, and the town also is trying to hire a new zoning and planning administrator. Kassie Watts of Benchmark had worked for the town for about nine months on a contract basis.

Conrad said a new zoning and planning administrator could be hired by the end of August.

The town also has tabbed someone for the vacant town clerk’s job, but some details have to be worked out and that person also won’t be on board until sometime in August.

Aldermen appointed Sandra Shell as a new member of the Planning Board on Thursday night.

In other business Thursday, aldermen:

• Approved spending $11,546.52 for new shelving in the town vault.

• Approved sending $1,000 from the United Way to Granite Quarry Elementary School.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

 

 

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