St. George Appeals Board Lacks Diversity—
Thursday, March 02, 2017 11:52 AM
I attended the February 23 meeting of St. George’s Board of Appeals. Its agenda was to review a Planning Board decision that implements the Town’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and preserves the unique wildlife ecosystem of Watts Cove. I was dismayed to see that there was no
discussion. One Board member dominated the entire conversation and steered the agenda and the vote to his point
Why was there no diversity of opinion? One look at the membership of the Appeals Board provided a clue. They were all men, and all baby-boom generation or older. The Board composition is not representative of the Town, which is at least 50 percent female and comprises the entire age range.
Women’s voices would have brought a broader perspective. Younger voices would have brought more recent education and knowledge of the environment to the conversation.
The Planning Board, which has diverse membership, had worked hard to achieve a responsible decision that used modern science to guide its implementation of the Town’s ordinance. All that work deserved a better hearing than
they got from the Appeals Board. The men on the Appeals Board didn’t participate: they acceded to the argument of the pro-development, anti-environment dominant Board member.
This is 2017, but it could have been 1957 in that room. Women have a lot to contribute, if you let them participate and make spaces for their voices. Younger people have an education that is not decades out of date. Why is St. George not taking advantage of these local resources?
Jocelyn Paquette, St. George