Supports 'free elections' for zoners in Roxbury

To the Editor:

I would like provide a response and additional insight to an article published Aug. 21 entitled "Roxbury resident calls for elected Zoning Commission members."

Although I was not in attendance for the selectmen's meeting held Aug. 17, I am a regular elected member of the Roxbury Planning Commission and am well versed on the topic.

There have been several calls and concerns by residents to evaluate the current status of zoning officials. Currently, members of the Zoning Commission are appointed by the Board of Selectmen and not elected by town residents.

It is not clear if all Roxbury residents are aware of this procedure.

Most boards and town government positions are elected, including that of the executive branch. With more than 90 percent of land-use authority in the hands of the Zoning Commission, it's no wonder some residents are concerned about the current system.

Over the last several years, there have been many changes to zoning regulations that several residents hold in question. Despite this concern town residents do not have any recourse through the election process to replace any member or members of the Zoning Commission.

As town residents, we must wait several years for the appointed term to expire before the Board of Selectmen could replace members.

At recent public hearings for the Roxbury Plan and Development, the concern was once again raised by town residents and some members of the Roxbury Planning Commission. As a result, a provision will be added to the new Roxbury Plan and Development that recommends such a change in town procedure.

Both commissions are involved in land-use authority, but only one is elected.

As a reserve naval officer and "white collar" businessman, I am outraged by comments made by Bob Falconer, the zoning chairman.

He was quoted at the meeting as saying "An election will bring out people with agendas, like developers."

Well, Mr. Falconer, I am not a developer, nor am I a person with any "agenda." I am a concerned volunteer like Mr. Falconer, except that I am not afraid to put my name on a ballot.

As a member of the United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, I stand behind the democratic process that I have sworn to protect.

What should be in question are the agendas of those who do not support free elections.

LTJG Damien St. James

United States Navy (Retired)