Hadley Conservation Commission staffer submits resignation in protest

  • Hadley Town Hall GAZETTE STAFF

Staff Writer
Published: 7/12/2021 5:58:21 PM

HADLEY — Hadley’s lone paid staff member who assists the Conservation Commission in a part-time role plans to leave the position at the end of this month if the commission’s chairwoman is not reinstated.

In a resignation letter sent to the Select Board and town administrator Sunday, Janice Stone expressed regret at departing from the job she has held since 2005.

“I am submitting my notice because of recent events, including the failure to reappoint the chair of our commission,” Stone wrote.

But Stone wrote that she would rescind her decision if Paulette Kuzdeba, who lost her position in a 4-1 vote by the Select Board at its July 7 meeting, is returned to the commission.

During the Select Board discussion that night, Chairman David J. Fill II said the decision to remove Kuzdeba was based on complaints received about the commission concerning challenges posed to applicants seeking permits, including farmers. After the meeting, Fill said the Select Board wants to make sure environmental regulations continue to be protected but to have the commission be more professional and more user-friendly.

Stone, who also served as conservation administrator in South Hadley until her retirement in 2017, was hired when the late Alexandra Dawson, known throughout New England for her expertise in conservation law and environmental activism, was the commission’s chairwoman.

“I have enjoyed my time working for the Hadley Conservation Commission for 16 years and appreciate all their time and effort on behalf of the town’s wetlands, water and farmland,” Stone wrote.

Stone’s decision follows the resignations of two members, Jim Hafner and Tony Lyn Morelli, who also based their departures on the actions of the Select Board.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Fill appealed for Stone to stay on due to the project coordination for the Route 9 widening project, which will also include replacing town water lines.

“You’ve been great to deal with and very informative and knowledgeable,” Fill said.

The board had been scheduled to meet Monday to appoint new commission members but canceled that meeting.

Instead, Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan informed the board that a notice would be posted on the town website and a letter of interest and qualifications would have to be submitted by July 23, with the remaining four Conservation Commission members to review and make recommendations to the Select Board for its Aug. 4 meeting.

The Select Board has since received letters from residents worried that anonymous complaints about the Conservation Commission and Kuzdeba led to the decision.

Mark Dunn, an elected member of the Planning Board, asked the board to reverse course.

“I urge you to consider hitting pause and publicly hearing complaints and the accused’s defenses fairly so that you may learn that the majority of voters prefer that the seven-member ConComm remain intact and instead be made aware of complaints regarding their conduct,” he wrote.

Also writing a letter was former Select Board member John Allen, who suggested that the board rescind its vote and abide by customary practice that the board not act on complaints without a full investigation.

Board member Jane Nevinsmith said among the 12 letters she has received since the last meeting, all are asking that the board change its decision.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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