AMESBURY — Curtis Wollitz had to turn around and check the clock a few times during his last Planning Board meeting Monday night since he was facing a self-imposed deadline.
Wollitz resigned from his post to avoid any possible conflicts of interest after accepting a new job in real estate with Stone Ridge Properties.
But he timed his resignation so that he'd have plenty of time to approve the minutes from the previous meeting — or so he thought.
In his resignation letter to Town Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin, Wollitz made his resignation effective at 7:30 p.m., a half-hour after the scheduled start of the meeting.
"With my new employment position, I am concerned that potential conflicts of interest will arise that would limit my ability to work on many projects that come before the board, and more importantly, would reduce the number of members available to vote on these projects," Wollitz wrote in his resignation letter.
But when a lengthy, philosophical discussion on the procedures of taking minutes followed a motion to approve the March 12 minutes, Wollitz had just a few minutes to spare before voting to approve the minutes.
Wollitz then got up from his chair and told board members that it was a pleasure working with them and left.
"Thank you for your service," Planning Board Chairman Howard Dalton said.
"You don't have to be so happy," said Planning Board member David Frick to the smiling Wollitz.
Wollitz spent five years on the Planning Board, and he considers it a good experience, since it allows him to keep up with what's happening in town.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said a vacancy will be declared at the City Council's April 10 meeting, and a joint meeting will be held with the council and Planning Board, most likely in May, to pick a replacement.
In other news, the proposed Bailey's Pond planned unit development project, which has lagged for two years, was withdrawn.
But the move is mostly a formality, since the project will be resubmitted to the board at a later date. The project is expected to go before the board again in May or June.
There have been so many changes to the board with new members that there are not enough members to go forward with the project.
"The applicant understands that there have been recent changes to the membership of the board and the new application is necessary to allow the full membership of the board to consider the project as it moves forward," project manager Sean Malone of McFarland Johnson wrote to city planner Nipun Jain in a March 19 letter.
Bailey's Pond developers haven't gone before the Planning Board with updated plans since last summer.
Fafard Real Estate Development is looking to develop the 23-acre property at Bailey's Pond between Interstate 495, Route 150 and the Merrimack River.
A deal between Fafard and the town was first struck in 2003, after the town took the parcel for unpaid taxes. The land was seen as the first step of the town's so-called Terrasphere project, a plan to redevelop 450 acres into homes, new businesses and a golf course.
None of that materialized. Instead, the deal went through years of legal wrangling before a revised deal was approved last year that provided more assurances for the town.
The city also withdrew its fire station expansion project after changes to the plan arose with the opening of the fire department's Elm Street station.
The city had been planning a $2.4 million expansion project for the fire department and repairs for the police department, but there have been recent changes to the project.
Fire department personnel worked for almost a year to fix up the Elm Street fire station to be a temporary base for firefighters during the construction.
Now, the town plans to keep the Elm Street station open on a permanent basis to give the department more room to work with so that the administration offices can remain on the first floor of the renovated fire department headquarters, avoiding the need for an elevator, which would have cost $500,000 to install.
The proposed hotel and retail project on Elm Street was continued to next month, as was a site plan special permit for 77 Elm St., which is home to Mill 77 and other businesses.