PEPPERELL -- The Economic Development Advisory Committee voted 5-1 last Wednesday to adopt a stance against a fellow committee member who, they say, has misrepresented the board and compromised its credibility.
Town Administrator and committee chairman John Moak presented a motion to adopt a declaration stating that member Hal Sartelle's actions have compromised the functionality, productivity and credibility of the committee. The declaration said that the committee would not be able to function if Sartelle remained a member.
EDAC is sending the statement to the Planning Board, which appointed Sartelle to the position. EDAC members may attend the next Planning Board meeting on Jan. 13 to discuss the matter.
According to committee members, Sartelle misrepresented the committee's official positions in order to promote a personal objective of having a rotary installed in Railroad Square.
Sartelle was not present, but did receive a draft of the motion prior to the meeting. When reached for comment after the meeting, he said that the committee was seeking to remove him to pursue other projects, and that his idea had received some support from both EDAC and the Planning Board.
"The National Highway Administration recommends modern roundabouts whenever possible. This concept seemed to have some legs and did bring attention to the intersection which received improvements over the summer. So although the change was smaller, some improvement has happened there. For that I'm happy; it got people thinking," Sartelle said.
John Masiello voted against adopting the declaration, while Chet Babineau, Keith Bagley, Sandra Ciccone, Diane Cronin and Moak voted in favor. Tracie Ezzio and Chuck Walkovich were also not present.
Moak said that several committee members were concerned that Sartelle had misrepresented EDAC by claiming to other town boards and officials that the committee supported construction of the rotary.
In reality, EDAC had expressed initial support for looking into the concept, but later voted that they would not pursue the rotary idea, Moak said.
"Some actions of this individual in my opinion really compromised how others see this committee," Bagley said. "To me that's a waste of my time."
Moak praised Sartelle's creativity and his help in designing a brochure promoting the town, but said his actions had been problematic.
Moak said he is hoping the committee can move on to focus on other objectives.
"I think we're on the cusp of really trying to do some good things for the town of Pepperell and we can't be dragged down," Moak said.
The committee also voted to allow Bagley to draft a marketing plan for how the committee can promote Pepperell.
"Keith will begin to develop a draft marketing plan to promote quality of life in Pepperell and how that would relate to people expanding their business or relocating their business in town," Moak said.
Cronin said that the plan, and the committee as a whole, would focus primarily on three issues -- business development, public relations and beautification of the downtown area.
EDAC is also asking MassDevelopment representatives to attend the committee's next meeting on Jan. 22.
"We're asking MassDevelopment to come and talk about the services they can provide for us as we try to continue to support sustained economic growth," Moak said.
EDAC originally discussed these issues at a meeting the week before, but due to an incorrect date on the meeting posting that was realized afterward, the votes were unofficial.
The committee reconvened Wednesday, Dec. 18, to recap the issues for public record and to revote.
Follow Chelsea Feinstein on Twitter and Tout @CEFeinstein.