Planning Board chairman stepping down at the end of the year

Nov 20, 2018

As his board hired its new town planner, Planning Board Chairman Joel Avila had an announcement himself: He is stepping down from his post at the end of the year.

Avila has served on the Planning Board for more than a decade, most recently as chairman. In a letter, he said he is stepping down as he and his wife prepare to spend more time in Florida.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the group of Planning Board members committed to Dartmouth’s future,” Avila said in his letter. “We can all be proud of the board’s accomplishments as we get closer to filling the Planning Director’s position.”

Avila said in his tenure, he is most proud of what the Planning Board was able to accomplish together.

“We needed to work as a team on the Planning Board to gain consensus so that when we went to Town Meeting we came in with a unified approach rather than a divided board,” Avila said. “That ability to work as a team has made difference.”

While he served on the board, the board adopted an Open Space Residential Development program, which grants exemptions to the town’s minimum lot size requirements in exchange for open space preservation. The board also passed a new sign bylaw, and protected residential neighborhoods by prohibiting the practice of handing out use variances in residential districts.

The board also created a new site plan review bylaw, which incorporates an architectural review into the process of approving site plans for new commercial developments. The guidelines are designed to help companies design buildings to blend into Dartmouth’s commercial areas.

“I think over time that will help improve the quality of the commercial district,” Avila said.

While Avila intends to make Florida his primary home, he does hope to still spend time in Dartmouth as well.

Avila’s retirement will create a vacancy on the board, which will be filled in the interim until the seat is up for re-election. Those interested serving on the Planning Board can contact the Town Administrator’s office for more information.