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Planning board head survives former vice chairman’s failed revolt on 3-2 vote

For what seemed like the nth year in a row, local property manager Richard Parker has been selected by the members of Burlington’s planning and zoning commission to serve as the group’s chairman.

But Parker’s latest nod for this post was remarkable in one major respect – namely that for the first time in his tenure, he actually had a rival for the commission’s top post.

Parker ultimately retained his control of the gavel during the commission’s latest regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday – but only after he managed to fend off an attempted coup by long-time colleague John Black, who had previously served as the commission’s second in the command.

Richard Parker being sworn in for another term as planning board chairman.

The groundwork for this failed bid for regime change was laid shortly before the vote for the chairmanship when Black declined to be nominated as a repeated term as the commission’s vice chairman.

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Black’s deferral allowed the baton to pass to James Kirkpatrick, the group’s next most senior member, who went on to clinch the vice chairmanship in a unanimous vote.

After Kirkpatrick’s selection, Parker opened the floor for candidates to the chairmanship. The group’s long-standing leader easily secured the first nomination himself. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Kirkpatrick proposed Black as a rival contender – a suggestion that Black personally proceeded to second.

The commission proceeded to vote 3-to-2 in favor of Parker’s selection – with Parker joined in the support of his own candidacy by junior member Lee Roane and newcomer Charlie Beasley. Kirkpatrick and Black’s opposition was insufficient to derail Parker’s victory, which precluded the need for a vote on Black’s nomination.

Absent Monday night for all issues, including the leadership votes, were ETJ members Bill Abplanalp and Joan Zec Nelson.

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