Former P&Z commissioner questions non-appointment

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BEACON FALLS — After years of service on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Patricia Hinman no longer sits on the commission.

The decision not to be a commissioner was not hers, Hinman says.

Hinman, 74, has lived in Beacon Falls for more than 44 years and has spent the last five on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Hinman sent in a letter, requesting to continue her service on the commission. However, during its December meeting, the Board of Selectmen ultimately decided to go with another candidate.

Hinman feels that the reason that she is no longer on the board is that in February Hinman wrote a letter to the Board of Selectmen voicing her support for Kevin McDuffie, the former chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission who was not reappointed to the commission.

“I do not want to see our town destroyed board by board,” Hinman wrote in the letter.

The letter went on to directly ask First Selectman Gerard Smith why he, in effect, fired McDuffie from the commission.

In February Smith said that McDuffie had not submitted a letter to request his reappointment to the commission and was therefore not eligible.

Hinman felt that it was that exchange in February that led to her not being reappointed this time around.

“I feel I have done a very good job, made a lot of contributions,” Hinman said. “Gerry decided he didn’t want me on the board anymore.”

When asked about Hinman’s concerns, Smith said last week that the letter in February was not a factor in the decision not to reappoint Hinman.

“That has nothing at all to do with it. It is a personnel issue, and we don’t discuss personnel issues,” Smith said.

Smith did explain that, while the Board of Selectmen approves the appointments, the decision of who to appoint comes is made by together by the boards and commissions and the Board of Selectmen.

Beyond just not being reappointed, Hinman felt slighted that she was not thanked for her years of service by the Board of Selectmen.

“It’s just a question of fairness and what’s right. It’s not right. It’s not the way you do things,” Hinman said.

Hinman explained that she wanted to be part of the commission because she felt she could make a difference in her home.

“We don’t have any control over what goes on in Washington, but we do have control over what goes on in our town,” Hinman said