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P&Z Names New Alternate Member

Published: February 10, 2018

Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) members have filled a vacancy on the eight-member panel created by the recent departure of an alternate member.

On February 1, P&Z members named Democrat Benjamin Toby of Sandy Hook to fill an alternate member vacancy created by the recent resignation of

Democrat Margot Snellback. Ms Snellback was elected to a two-year term as an alternate P&Z member in the November 2017 elections, but in January she resigned from the panel when she moved away from Newtown.

The P&Z is now comprised of three Democratic regular members and two Republican regular members, plus two Democratic alternates and one Republican alternate. Five members vote on motions during decisionmaking. The P&Z had long been controlled by the Republican party, but shifted to Democratic control in the November 2017 elections.

Mr Toby told P&Z members February 1 that he had seen a newspaper story listing various vacancies on town boards and commissions and decided to pursue P&Z membership.

A local resident for the past 15 years, Mr Toby wrote a letter of interest to the P&Z which states, in part, “I don’t claim any special expertise, although I do hope my engineering and renewable energy background may be of some use to the commission.”

Mr Toby describes himself as a lifelong environmentalist who values free enterprise and economic growth that is done in a sustainable manner.

“I know we have challenges in Newtown that the commission needs to address every day that only will be solved by promoting open reasonable dialog, and then keeping an open mind and working hard to make informed decisions,” he wrote.

Asked to comment on his appointment, Mr Toby said February 6, “I’m very excited to be joining the Planning and Zoning Commission as an alternate member. I love the balance of open space, farms, residences, and village centers in Newtown. It’s what drew our family to town when we moved to Connecticut from California in 2003, and I’ve been very impressed with how the various town commissions managed to maintain an appropriate pace and style of development since we moved here.

“I value decisionmaking that is rooted in consideration of facts and details, as well as hearing all points of view. I appreciate the chance to serve on the commission at an important time in our town’s history,” he said.

Mr Toby is the vice president for national accounts at FuelCell Energy, Inc in Danbury. He has degrees in civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering.

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