TRURO — Ginny Frazier was appointed to the planning board at a special joint meeting of that board and the select board on Oct. 25.
The two boards have had a contentious relationship. But that conflict was not in evidence at Tuesday’s meeting, at which the purpose was to fill the seven-month unexpired term of a planning board member.
When Bruce Boleyn resigned in September the planning and select boards began a procedural dance in which the two boards come together to select someone to fill the vacant seat until the annual town election in May. This process has been fraught in the past. The select board has criticized the planning board for not supporting affordable housing or the bylaws needed to help create it. Planning board members had criticized the North Truro Cloverleaf housing development in particular. Former planning board member Peter Herridge was censured by the select board in 2020 for violating town policies on integrity and civility after he accused town staff of lying and denigrated affordable housing developer Ted Malone.
In years past, most planning board seats had been uncontested, especially at the town’s annual elections. This time, however, four people volunteered to complete Boleyn’s term: Ginny Frazier, Steven Stahl, Joe McKinnon, and Karen Ruymann. After interviewing all of them, planning board members Caitlin Townsend, Ellery Althaus, Anne Greenbaum, and Jack Riemer named Frazier as their top choice, as did four members of the select board. One select board member, Susan Areson, was absent.
When it came time to vote on the appointment, only Riemer voted against Frazier, making the final tally 9 to 1. Rich Roberts and Paul Kiernan of the planning board had not selected Frazier as their top choice but voted for her in the end. And while Riemer ranked her as his top choice, he voted against her appointment.
“I am thrilled with the level of talent that has applied for the board,” said Anne Greenbaum, chair of the planning board.
Frazier developed a nine-home subdivision in Brockton, finishing the project after the death of her life partner, who had a 75-percent interest in the development. She has lived in Truro full-time since 2016, she told the Independent.
Frazier drove for Cape Cab and is now working at the Truro Vineyards shop. She also serves on the Truro Zoning Board of Appeals. That position, she said during her interview before the two boards, taught her about the same bylaws that fall within the planning board’s jurisdiction.
But, she said, she preferred to make a switch to the planning board “because it has more of an impact.” Projects often come to the planning board before they end up at the ZBA.
With two alternates on the ZBA, Frazier said she does not feel she will be leaving that committee in the lurch when she joins the planning board.
Like most of the candidates, Frazier listed the creation of affordable housing as the lead issue facing Truro. She also named climate change as the third top priority, again aligning with the other candidates. But Frazier was alone in naming mental health care as the second-most important issue.
“The mental health crisis is totally out of control,” she said. “We need some county support and some help for our residents.”
In their deliberations, board members stated that McKinnon, a builder and landscaper, had a valuable perspective on the needs of year-round working people in Truro. And many complimented Stahl, a special education teacher and former president of the Family Center of Washington County, Vt., for his research and campaign to become a planning board member. He has twice run unsuccessfully for election to that board.
Several members of the boards complimented Ruymann, a musician, for her ability as a community organizer. Ruymann said she helped bring in 300 donors to buy the Pond Village Preserve for the Truro Conservation Trust. In 2021, she said she created a neighborhood newsletter called the Pond Village Voice.
She said her activism began over questions she had about wastewater effluent that would be created by the Cloverleaf apartments on Highland Road. Her husband, gastroenterologist Frederick Ruymann, is one of the Docs for Truro Safe Water, a group of seven M.D.s and Ph.D.s who misrepresented the Cape Cod Commission’s water quality standards and falsely claimed their report was “peer reviewed” during the protracted battle over the Cloverleaf.
Despite the compliments, no one named Ruymann as their top choice. “We have an abundance of riches,” said Kiernan, noting that each of the candidates would be a benefit to the planning board.