With months of research and discussion behind it, the Charter Revision Commission has decided not to back away from its recommendation that the Inland Wetlands Board be separated from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The Board of Selectmen should accept that decision and allow the proposed charter change to go to voters in November.
As the charter process works, the selectmen get to recommend changes, and voted 3-to-2 to suggest that the charter commission reconsider its proposal to separate wetlands from planning and zoning. Charter commissioners had an opportunity to take the selectmen’s advice — or not. Monday night they decided not to change their recommendation. The process gives the selectmen the final say: they can override the revision commission and remove any of its proposals from the ballot that goes to town voters.
The selectmen should not substitute their judgment for that of a commission that studied the issue through months of research, hearings with comment from all kinds of people, and elaborate presentations from both the Planning and Zoning Commission, which wants to hang onto its wetlands authority, and the Conservation Commission, which advocated the change as giving wetlands protection a higher priority by making it the sole focus of a separate board.
The selectmen had a hearing, too. But they limited the conservation and planning and zoning presentations to 15 minutes each. The Charter Revision Commission gave each agency a whole meeting.
Four years ago a different Charter Revision Commission recommended a splitting of wetlands from planning and zoning, but the idea was pulled back at the selectmen’s behest.
This time the selectmen — having offered their honest views, and had the charter commission decide not to change course — should step back and give voters the final judgment.