AUBURN — The City Council made five appointments to the Planning Board this week, including three newcomers, as the board begins a new year with several contentious issues on the docket.

The appointments were made Tuesday after some disagreement between councilors over the nature of turnover on the board, with some councilors pointing out that two board members seeking reappointment were passed over for newcomers.

The board turnover is partially caused by members Mathieu Duvall and Brian Dubois not seeking reappointment. However, board member Joshua Daigle applied to be reappointed after his term expired, and was not chosen.

The newcomers include David Trask, Amanda Guerrette and Timothy Deroche. Members Stacey LeBlanc, Darren Finnegan and Paul Jacques were also reappointed, with Jacques moving from an associate to full member.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilor Rick Whiting requested that the appointments be removed from the consent agenda, which contains several items that are typically approved by the council with a single vote.

Whiting said he hasn’t been “happy” with Auburn’s appointment system since he’s been on the council.


“I don’t think it works the way it’s intended,” he said.

The nominations for appointments come from a committee of Councilors Stephen Milks, Ryan Hawes, and Joe Morin, who vet all applications for city boards and make recommendations to the council.

Whiting and Councilor Dana Staples made several motions to replace the chosen nominations with Daigle, who they argued should be reappointed given his experience and knowledge on current issues in front of the board.

Whiting said Daigle should be reappointed “to have some stability on a fairly unstable board.”

“This is a board where we invest time and we get people up to speed on how to make these decisions,” Staples said. “There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Staples added, “I don’t know what went into the decision not to put him back on here, but I think there should be a place for him here.”


Each motion to appoint Daigle failed by a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Jason Levesque casting the tiebreaker. Councilor Steve Milks was absent Tuesday.

The new members join the Planning Board as hot-button issues pile up, including residential zoning, changes to Lake Auburn watershed rules and a debate over Auburn’s agricultural zone.

Whiting also made a motion to appoint Stanwood “Joe” Gray, an Auburn farmer, to one of the seats, but it failed by the same margin. Whiting said the board had not had a farmer in its ranks for years, and Gray had applied for an open seat.

Asked this week, Levesque said that since all board appointments are based on terms, it’s been common in the past for some members not to be reappointed after a term expires. He said the appointment committee looks at a balance between “retention of legacy knowledge and putting new people who have a diverse background and better reflect the characteristics of the city.”

During the meeting, resident Steven Beal said it was “in the public interest” to know who was leaving the Planning Board, either by resignation or expiring term.

During one of his appointment attempts, referring to Daigle, Staples said the city should be “investing in these members” and not “throw away a year of training.”


Dubois, one of the resigning members, had twice been involved in controversies stemming from his occupation as a real estate agent.


Also on Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to direct the city manager to “acquire the necessary property” toward a new Engine 2 fire station in New Auburn, and to allocate up to $25,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act to support it.

City Manager Phil Crowell said in order for fire personnel to continue working on the site through construction, the additional land is needed. He said the Engine 2 station is the city’s oldest public safety building.

A new Engine 2 station will be the first in several projects overhauling Auburn public safety facilities, which will also include a new joint public safety building at the site of Central Fire Station on Minot Avenue, where the Auburn Police Department will also be headquartered.

A city memo said, “through the acquisition of additional land the existing locations will remain public safety locations while allowing for new upgraded facilities to meet the current and future demands of staff and public safety vehicles.”

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