Jul 30, 2014

Warrant Committee's Allison Appointed to Planning Board

Will give up chairmanship of financial watch dog group to focus on development.

Warrant Committee's Allison Appointed to Planning Board

Elizabeth Allison is on the move.

Allison is trading in her post as chairwoman of the Warrant Committee, the powerful financial watchdog group, for a seat on the town's Planning Board after the Board of Selectmen voted her to the position at its Tuesday meeting, Aug. 21.

Allison will be bringing her economist background with her to her new volunteer position.

"The issues the board will be working on are very important in terms of both quality of life and financial viability of the town," said Allison in an interview with Belmont Patch on Wednesday, Aug 22.

Allison replaces Andy Rojas who was elected Selectman in April.

"What's needed on the board is someone with an economics background," said Ralph Jones after the vote.

Allison's elevation to the board – whose main charge is to protect and preserve the character and the quality of life that defines the town – will see the person who help reshape the committee responsible for reviewing town finances for Town Meeting into an influencial force in the creation of town and school annual budgets now turn her attention to matters of zoning, land use and development.

"My skills seemed a good match for those the Planning Board announced they were seeking in a new member; if they had already had an economist on the Board I probably would not have applied," said Allison, who is a long-time town meeting member from Precinct 3.

Allison noted in her letter of application that she brings considerable experience doing financial analysis in a transactional context which will provide insight to a developer's financials.

She also brings practical experience to the board having once been a vice president for real estate for a Fortune 500 company, which provides her "a 'tenant' perspective complementary to those already on the Board."

While Allison notes that there is no requirement for her to step down from the Warrant Committee and in the past several people have served lengthy terms on both, "I would not expect to do that and although being chair of the Warrant Committee is a genuine privilege, I will not be seeking another term."

"With a very talented group of colleagues, there is every argument for passing around the leadership positions," she said.

While Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Paolillo noted at the appointment that with Allison the Planning Board "now has a woman back on the board" – Jenny Fallon was the last female member two years ago – Allison doesn't view her gender as a reason for her appointment.

"I appreciate that gender diversity has been a concern for some, and it’s good for an appointment to meet multiple objectives. But I do not anticipate that gender will be a major driver of my contributions," said Allison.

Don’t miss updates from Patch!