Selectmen approach proposal with caution

BEACON FALLS — Officials are cautiously looking into a way to streamline operations in the land use office.

The town’s building inspector, Jim Baldwin, is also a qualified zoning enforcement officer.

During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, First Selectman Christopher Bielik said he was contemplating making Baldwin an assistant zoning enforcement officer to help out when Mike Mormile, the town’s zoning enforcement officer, wasn’t in the office.

“Jim has been reluctant to offer professional advice officially in that capacity as zoning enforcement officer since he is not designated as such by the town,” Bielik said.

The idea was met with some skepticism by selectmen Michael Krenesky and Peter Betkoski because of issues the town had when former building inspector Jim Tucciarone was also serving as interim zoning enforcement officer.

In August, it came to light that Tucciarone had been filling out his time card as both the building inspector and the zoning enforcement officer for the same hours, essentially charging the town twice for some hours. He was placed on administrative leave while the town investigated.

Tucciarone was reinstated as building inspector but not zoning enforcement officer in October. He abruptly resigned from the position in December.

“I know that we had an issue previously with one individual who dual-hatted in both of those responsibilities and it caused a little bit of turmoil. But that’s a different case I think than what we are discussing here because we have an officially designated zoning enforcement officer,” Bielik said.

Krenesky was hesitant about just giving the position to Baldwin.

“I think, since we went through what we went through originally just very recently, I am very reluctant to name someone else and put the dual-hat situation in play. This just opens us up unless we have a very clearly defined job description,” Krenesky said. “I think we should be avoiding this issue rather than going down this path.”

Betkoski was also cautious but took a more optimistic approach to the idea.

“I think if we could put it in writing where he would be stepping up to the plate to fill the void and how his hours would be covered, I don’t think it would be a bad idea,” Betkoski said.

Bielik agreed that there has to be an “iron-clad agreement” in place before moving forward with the proposal. He said he would research the idea and present a proposal to the board during May’s meeting.

“I think there is merit in looking into it, but we have to proceed cautiously with it,” Bielik said.