Consider seven-member planning board in Warren

Consider seven-member planning board in Warren



The wariness is understandable. But given Warren’s dearth of volunteers, an idea brought up to reduce the number of planning board members from nine to seven (page 4) might bear further consideration.

While the town couldn’t run without its volunteers, there are shortages on some boards that have gone, in some cases, months without being filled. And there are plenty of openings: At next week’s Warren Town Council meeting, councilors will fill — or hope to fill — vacancies on the economic development board, housing authority, juvenile hearing board, planning board, voluntary historic district committee and the committee’s board of appeals. In recent history, councilor have asked applicants to certain boards if they’d be interested in serving on entirely different boards, given not enough here and too many there.

While reducing the number of members on five- and seven-member boards doesn’t make sense, practicality might suggest doing so on a nine-member board, like planning. Fully staffed and everyone present, a full board equates to longer meetings and more differences of opinion; when some fail to show — a problem that would be alleviated by allowing auxiliary members to sit at meetings — residents with business before the board are forced to come back another day.

Sad but true, Warren needs all the volunteers it can get. While it’s not the best solution to Warren’s problems, going with seven rather than nine could help deepen Warren’s volunteer reserves by two; and the town needs them both.


  1. Reducing the membership for the Planning Board from currently required nine to seven might seem like a easy fix for lack of volunteers to fill seats but my observation and experience cause me to question this.

    First, in the fifteen months I’ve served on the board, we’ve never fallen short of the quorum requirement.
    Second, the premise that “full board equates to longer meetings and more differences of opinion” has not been my experience. Our meetings do not get bogged down with excessive debate and more difference of opinion. In fact, most times there is very little debate and little difference of opinion. I frankly welcome differing viewpoints and opinions – it’s important and healthy in order to reach fair and balanced outcomes.

    Finally, there is a practicable problem with a seven member board in which four is a quorum. If a meeting is conducted with the minimum four members, a tie vote of 2-2 would further delay outcomes and defeat the objective.