Tisbury selectmen replace ZBA member
The Tisbury selectmen started Tuesday night's meeting a half hour early in order to make annual appointments to town committees and boards. The process ran smoothly, until zoning board of appeals (ZBA) chairman Jeffrey Kristal asked that the selectmen not reappoint Daniel J. Seidman as a one-year associate committee member.
Mr. Kristal said that Mr. Seidman has sued the ZBA and its members as individuals over the board's decision in February requiring his daughter to get rid of her pet rooster, in response to complaints from their Mayflower Lane neighbors. Because of the lawsuit, Mr. Seidman's presence on the board strains communication, Mr. Kristal said. He added that if Mr. Seidman is reappointed, the selectmen might lose the other ZBA members.
Despite Mr. Kristal's comments, Mr. Seidman said he wanted to continue serving on the ZBA. He added that the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission said his committee membership would not be a conflict of interest unless the ZBA was considering a case about fowl, from which he should recuse himself.
Selectman Tristan Israel argued in favor of Mr. Seidman's reappointment, because he said he did not want to discourage anybody from serving.
"All of the people who serve on boards are volunteers," said selectman Denys Wortman. "If you have one who's disruptive, it can wreak havoc. The members can disagree, but they have to be able to work as a team."
"I haven't seen this person go out and shoot anybody or rob anybody," Mr. Israel retorted.
Mr. Israel persisted in his effort by making a motion to reappoint Mr. Seidman, which Mr. Wortman refused to second, putting an end to the issue. Instead, the selectmen unanimously approved Anthony Holand as a new one-year associate ZBA member.
In other business, for the first time since new taxi driver licensing regulations were recently adopted, the selectmen heard appeals from two drivers who were denied their licenses by police Chief John Cashin, pursuant to the new taxi licensing rules.
Chief Cashin explained that he based the denial of Able Cab Company owner Bob Saggese's taxicab driver's license on charges of negligent operation on his driving record. Under the new licensing regulations approved by the selectmen, a taxicab driver convicted of any charges of negligent operation in the past three years is not eligible for a license.
Attorney Daniel Larkosh, representing Mr. Saggese, explained that the negligent operation charge stemmed from an incident that occurred in February, before the new licensing regulations were in effect.
Mr. Larkosh said an anonymous caller reported Mr. Saggese as driving erratically. Mr. Saggese was sitting in his car eating ice cream when approached by Tisbury police officer. He refused to take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, which resulted in automatic suspension of his license for 60 days, Mr. Larkosh said.
Initially charged with operating under the influence, which was later dismissed by a judge, Mr. Saggese pled guilty to a lesser charge of negligent operation on the advice of another attorney, Mr. Larkosh said. Mr. Saggese said he would not have pled guilty to the negligent operation charge had he realized the consequences of having it on his driving record, and plans to petition the court to revise his sentence to remove the guilty plea.
After listening to his appeal, the selectmen agreed the three-year license denial period seemed too harsh. They compromised by voting to deny Mr. Saggese's license until Dec. 31, or sooner, if the negligent operation guilty plea is dropped from his record.
Expressing his support for the police chief, Mr. Wortman asked if he was comfortable with the selectmen's decision.
"Yes, that's why I recommend the appeals process - I trust your judgment," Chief Cashin told him.
Moving on to Tom Ward, the second cab driver denied a license, the chief explained Mr. Ward's driving record included a couple of moving violations, grounds for being denied a license for 18 months under the new regulations.
One charge related to Mr. Ward's failure to pay his excise taxes. The selectmen voted to issue Mr. Ward his license, provided he paid his taxes and fees and abides by the new regulations.
In other business, on the recommendation of town administrator John Bugbee, the selectmen approved a contract with Virtual Town Hall, a service that manages town web sites. Tisbury voters, in a town meeting action, agreed to allocate money for web site management, Mr. Bugbee said.