It’s hard not to be aware of the recent “pearl incident” at the State House. State Rep David Meuse does a good job in explaining it in his OpEd, which just reappeared on my timeline: 
https://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20190310/committee-members-should-not-don-partisan-symbols

Rep. Meuse got it right: Whether it’s a public State House hearing on a bill, or a petition before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, those in power should do their best to approach these kind of events with an open mind. 

Sometimes that is challenging. I admit that sometimes I start a ZBA hearing thinking a vote will go one way, but then the evidence presented ends up changing the direction I take. But no matter how we feel when we approach the hearing, we should always allow the participants the opportunity to speak — without feeling intimidated or feeling that their opinion isn’t valuable. While the participants are testifying, we must do our best to at least appear neutral.

Last night’s ZBA meeting was … “interesting.” We had one case that I expected to go differently, but the information presented swayed me to vote in a different way than I originally thought I might. 

We had another case last night that I approached without any idea of how I would vote. We had ruled against a somewhat similar case on the property, with a request for a much larger house, which had ended up in Court. Ultimately, I felt that my reasons for rejecting the initial petition had not changed. I voted against this new petition.

Another board member shared, in the closed section, after all of the abutters had testified, that he knew he would vote in favor of the petition, based on his previous experience with this property. (He was consistent with the position that he had taken in the previous petition, a position that had been quoted in the earlier lawsuit.)

What I found ironic was the reaction of one of those who testified: an abutter, an attorney and a State Rep, who is referenced (by action, but not by name) in Representative Meuse’s article: After wearing pearls to show opposition to gun regulations in a public hearing before his committee, our State Rep objected to a ZBA member for not approaching this land use matter unobjectively. 

I hope our State Rep learned a little about what it feels like to be on the other side, and will realize that an apology to those who came before him and his committee is in order.