Town's longtime Planning Board chairman resigns

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Gorham Planning Board Chairman Edward Zelmanow resigned Monday because he is moving out of town.


As chairman of the Gorham Planning, Edward Zelmanow shows the panic button that would have summoned police in the event of a problem. Despite some controversial issues, Zelmanow never had to push the button in his nine years as board chairman.

GORHAM — Edward Zelmanow announced Monday that he is stepping down from the Planning Board after 13 years, nine as its chairman.

 “Tonight is going to be my last meeting,” Zelmanow said when the regular monthly meeting convened.

Zelmanow read a prepared statement addressed to Town Council Chairman Benjamin Hartwell, in which he said he was stepping down immediately because he “will no longer be a permanent resident of Gorham as of March 1.”

Zelmanow, lead Maine attorney in the Portland law offices of Howard Lee Schiff, said Wednesday he is moving  to Waterboro with his wife. He is a member of  the Waterboro Fire Department’s call company.

His resignation leaves a vacancy on the seven-member board that is appointed by the Town Council. Planning Board Vice Chairman George Fox will serve as acting chairman until the board reorganizes.

“Ed has served many years on the Planning Board working a thankless job that is extremely important. His experience and service to the community will be missed but appreciated,” Hartwell said in an email to the American Journal Tuesday. “We wish him well and hope he brings his experience with him to his new community.”

In the statement he read, Zelmanow said he hoped that as chairman he helped “control and shape the immense growth Gorham has experienced.”

Zelmanow has served on the board during some controversial proposals that packed meetings. Besides some contentious housing issues, he was there during the Brickyard Quarry and asphalt plant hearings that went on for nearly two years and also heard plans for development of a South Gorham business park with a Cumberland Farms store that riled neighbors.

“One of my biggest fears while on the board was always uncontrolled growth within the town,” Zelmanow said in the letter. “Growth cannot be stopped, but ensuring that the growth is balanced between residential, commercial and industrial uses and does not expand faster than the town’s current infrastructure has been and will continue to be the challenge faced by this board, a group of  dedicated residents who have selflessly volunteered their time and energy to the town.”

Zelmanow has lived in Gorham for 20 years. In less than two decades, the population soared from 14,141 in 2000 to an estimated 17,381 in 2016 with a projection to hit 23,000 by 2040.

In his resignation letter, he thanked the board, its clerk Barbara Skinner and Town Planner Tom Poirier. Zelmanow wished the town’s residents “the best for a happy and healthy future.”

Bidding final farewell at the meeting’s end, he said,” Thank you everyone and take care.”

Robert Lowell can be reached at 780-9089 or email rlowell@keepmecurrent.com.