BERLIN – Dave Rovansek will likely get his wish for an alternate to take his place on the Berlin Planning Commission next week, but the town’s elected officials’ decision last month to replace him still rankles.
“The move in which my permanent replacement was done at the last meeting was caused either by a lack of knowledge of the laws and adopted rules or choosing not to follow the laws and adopted rules,” Rovansek said this week. “At some point, the mayor and town council need to be held accountable.”
Members can only be removed from a commission for cause, such as missing meetings without notification.
Rovansek alerted Mayor Tom Cardinale to his need for an alternate in early November to handle his duties on the planning commission while he underwent treatment for a brain tumor in Baltimore.
On Nov. 26, Cardinale appointed local businessman John Barrett to permanently take Rovansek’s place, saying that Rovansek would then be offered the next open place on the commission. Cardinale reversed that decision this week and will request the change to an alternate for Rovansek at Monday night’s town council meeting.
“I want to revisit it,” Cardinale said. “It’s on the agenda. I want them to reconsider the appointment I made and change it to an alternate.”
Cardinale said Barrett is fine with the change.
“I think what the mayor decides is fine,” said Planning Commission Chair Pete Cosby. “I’m not going to get involved in political issues. The mayor makes the decision.”
Cardinale said the decision to replace Rovansek arose from a misunderstanding.
“The council misunderstood me. I misunderstood them,” he said.
Last week, Cardinale said that the town council has a policy of not appointing temporary or alternate commission members. A commission seat cannot simply be left vacant, as the commission needs an odd number of members to prevent tie votes.
Rovansek, despite the mayor’s concession on the alternate issue, is still unhappy with last week’s vote.
“The way it was handled was an unnecessary distraction when I should have been focusing on my treatment and health,” Rovansek said.
According to Rovansek, the mayor told him he would not be replaced outright, then later made the permanent appointment of his replacement without telling him of the change.
“He told me face-to-face my seat would be waiting for me after my recovery,” Rovansek said.
Cardinale said last week he sent Rovansek a letter announcing his decision, but that the letter did not arrive in time.
“The bottom line is after years of volunteer service and educating myself on town planning it was very disturbing to have it handled this way,” Rovansek said.
Rovansek did not know about the change until after the vote and was informed by a friend on the telephone while he was recovering from radiation treatment. “I’m upset about that,” he said.
Rovansek is looking forward to getting back to his duties on the planning commission and coming to grips with some of the planning dilemmas facing the town.
“We don’t have a great system in place. It’s kind of out of touch with the needs of the community,” said Rovansek.
The zoning code needs to be revamped and the ambiguity removed, he said.
“I think we need a master plan for the town,” Rovansek said.
With a master plan, developers will know exactly what is required of them, and the approval process will become streamlined.
Cardinale said Rovansek would be missed while he is unable to attend meetings.
“Dave’s got a lot of experience. He’s smart and he knows the town,” he said.