Letter: Tiverton Planning Board members deserve an apology

Posted

To the editor:

For the past year there has been considerable private and public bashing of the Tiverton Planning Board by a couple of Tiverton town councilors, the Tiverton Town Administrator and the Town Planner, Jennifer Siciliano. Their complaints have been in the vein of: “Developers think the planning board makes it too difficult for them to get their projects done” and as seen in a June 9, 2022 article in the Sakonnet Times: "Tiverton planner resigns, citing conflicts with planning board."

In her May 5 resignation letter to the Town Administrator, Planner, Jennifer Siciliano begins by citing that “relationship issues with some of the planning board members and myself make it untenable for me to continue my employment.” The next sentence is a, oh by the way, reference that she and her husband are moving out of state to help her father-in-law run his farm. Which comes first, the chicken: My husband and I are moving out of state so I’m resigning, or the egg: I’m having difficult relationships with some planning board members and even though I’m moving out of state to take a new career path I’m going to dis them before I go.

Tiverton town employees send letters of resignation on a regular basis. Usually the town council accepts their resignation with regret. It is highly unusual for a letter of resignation which is accusing and inflammatory, to be added verbatim to the back up of the town council agenda. But this letter was added purposely to publicly bash the planning board, yet again.

So let’s set the record straight with facts from the agendas of planning board meetings, available for all to read, on the RI Secretary of State’s open government site.

It is the duty of the Planner as Administrative Officer (AO) to ensure that the Planning Department Clerk takes accurate, detailed minutes of each planning board meeting, for the AO to review and to have them ready for the next planning board meeting.

According to the agenda of the planning board of Feb. 1, 2022, nine months of planning board minutes had not been received from the planner/AO ( March 16, 2021, April 13, 2021, June 8, 2021, July 8, 2021, August 3, 2021, September 14,2021, November 16, 2021, December 7, 2021, January 11, 2022) https://opengov.sos.ri.gov/Common/DownloadMeetingFiles?FilePath=\Notices\4665\2022\418230.pdf

The planner as Administrative Officer for the planning board has a duty to write detailed monthly Administrative Officer (AO) reports for the planning board and town council to keep them informed of what has been coming into the planning office including meetings and activities that have taken place. This is important information for them to operate effectively. The planning board agendas of both February 1, 2022 and March 1,2022 show that the planner had not given five months of AO reports to the planning board. (From September, 2021 to January, 2022). https://opengov.sos.ri.gov/Common/DownloadMeetingFiles?FilePath=\Notices\4665\2022\421134.pdf

Their job is difficult and demanding. The duties they perform are mandated by law and in order to perform those duties effectively they must have all the necessary information they need and have it on time. Clearly, the planner/AO was not doing what is written in her job description which was to make sure the planning board was getting precise, accurate and timely minutes and AO reports.

This had to be highly frustrating for the planning board. All the planning board wanted was for the planner/AO to do her job so they could do their job. These hard-working volunteers, who have been criticized and demeaned for doing their job, deserve an apology. Their efforts should be recognized and praised.

Barbara Martin

Tiverton

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Media Group team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaymediagroup.com.