In one of his final acts as chairman of the Howell , John Van Noy swore in the three new members of the board .
Just a few minutes later those new members helped to unseat Van Noy, who had been chairman of the board for more than a decade. While he was nominated by Thomas O'Donnell for another term, Valeri Morone nominated Stephen Meier to replace him as chairman.
When it came time for the vote Van Noy received votes from Wendell Nanson and O'Donnell. That was not enough as new members Edward Guz and Michael Sanclimenti as well as Morone gave Meier enough votes to take over the chairmanship.
With a new chairman in place Morone was nominated for and voted as the new vice chairperson of the board while Nanson was nominated for that position as well as board secretary. Despite earning the votes for secretary Nanson declined due to health reasons and Sanclimenti, who had served on the board in the past, was elected to the secretary position for the year ahead.
After 12 years as chairman, including 10 years where he said he was voted to that spot unanimously, Van Noy said he was thankful for the time he had to serve in that capacity. He added that he was glad that while the faces on the board changed, the group of professionals serving the board will remain the same.
O'Donnell said he believed even with the new members everyone would work together toward a common goal. "There won't be a division of the board," he said. "The board works for the township. Political things happen here that we have no control over and it's unfortunate that things are political."
As he prepares to move to the center seat at the top of the dais Meier said there would be some changes coming to the board under his leadership. "I go a little bit more strongly to the master plan and the zoning ordinances," he said. Having served on the board on and off for many years, Meier said he will also institute other changes including allowing the public to ask questions of the professionals during applications as opposed to waiting until the end of an application. "It's going to be limited exclusively to what's been testified to," he said. "They're going to have very tight guidelines on that."
Taking over a board that has been under the same leadership for such a long time, Meier said he knows he is in an important role as chairman. "I just want to make sure I get it right," he said. "I'm going to be relying on the professionals very heavily."
For Morone, her second year on the board will mean a move to the top level of the dais and what she expects to be a more involved role. "I will probably just be a little more hands on with the mechanisms of how the business is conducted," she said. Morone added that she learned a lot her first year on the board and was looking to applying that to this coming year.
Having served on the board in 2005 and 2006, Sanclimenti said he was glad he was getting another chance to serve the township. Having lived in Howell for 19 years he said his goals for his new term are to "make sure that the public is served correctly," as well as to "make sure that the zoning ordinances are upheld so that both the applicants and the public are served correctly."
While there are many new faces on the board now, Sanclimenti said the objectives are the same six years later. "I think the zoning board usually takes a personality based on the people," he said. "When I was serving back in 2005 and 2006 it was a very good board. I think this is going to be a very good board."
In addition to the new full members, the board also has a new alternate in Nino Borrelli who said prior to moving to Howell in 2005 he spent a year on the zoning board in his hometown of Brick. He said that year can help him in his new position. "The town I served on the board in was more populated and more suburban," he said. "Howell is very suburban but there are a lot of rural areas and a lot of farmland."
As he waits to hear his first case from one of the two alternate chairs, Borrelli said he is looking forward to his new role. "I see my role as listening fairly to all the residents and the applications that come before the board and making fair and just decisions based on the information presented to us and serving the community that I love and that I live in."
Being one of several new faces on the board, he added he is excited to see what they will accomplish going forward. "I think it's definitely exciting," he said. "It's definitely going to be challenging and I look forward to working with them and learning a lot from them."
For Guz, he has served Howell as a member of the finance committee and on the citizen's action advisory committee but said he is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with his new role. "I want to be useful and I want to serve my community," he said.
Having lived in the township since 1989, Guz said he knows he has a lot of learning to do as he starts his term. "It's a learning experience and then whatever I can contribute based on my past experience and my prior qualifications," he said.
Guz's professional experience includes working for the state for 36 years most recently as the business manager at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway. He may not have the zoning experience of some of the other members, but Guz said he is looking forward to working with the rest of the board. "I've heard a lot about Steve and I'm sure he's going to make a great chairman," he said of Meier. "It's going to be an exciting opportunity and I'm looking forward to it."
Many of the members may be new, but the board also brought back the same professionals that they have had for many years. That includes Ronald Troppoli as attorney, Jack Mallon as Engineer and Jennifer Beahm as planner. Zig Panek was also chosen again as the certified tree expert and Barbara Capitan as the board's administrative officer.
One of the first acts of the new board was to change the meeting start times from 8 p.m. to 7:30. However, with some applicants noticing residents with the original start time Capitan said that will likely not start until the February meetings. The next meeting of the board is scheduled for Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall.