Effingham Planning Board Member Declines to be Seated

Effingham—April 5, 2023—Victoria Garceau, who ran unopposed for a three-year position on Effingham’s Planning Board, has declined to be seated, according to a report by the Conway Daily Sun.

Meanwhile, Garceau’s husband, David, said he will not accept the three-year ZBA seat he won handily on Election Day a little more than a week ago. He came in third in the same election competing for a seat on the Budget Committee.

As far as is known, David Garceau plans to continue on the Planning Board, where his term runs to 2025. He told the Sun he and his wife “had a personal issue to attend to,” which caused them to step away from their newly-won positions.

Both the Planning Board and ZBA may appoint replacements for the Garceaus. The appointed members would then serve for a year, followed by an election for two-year seats on both boards, according to the Sun’s reporting.

The sudden vacancy on the Planning Board comes as it enters a period of leadership transition due to Board Chair Theresa Swanick’s decision in February not to run for re-election after two tumultuous years in which she was a key player in the controversial Meena LLC gas station case.

Swanick was chair of the ZBA in the spring of 2021 when it granted a special exception to Meena LLC for a gas station at Boyle’s Market, and was chair of the Planning Board when weeks later it declined to review the site plan because gas stations are prohibited at the site.

She subsequently oversaw the ZBA hearings that resulted in the Conway developer being granted relief from the prohibition, and headed the Planning Board hearings on the Site Plan Application.

The Planning Board hearings, which began in September, 2021, have been subject to delays caused by administrative errors by both the board and the applicant, findings of deficiencies in the site plan by the board’s independent technical advisor, and legal challenges by opponents of the plan.

A court-ordered stay in the proceedings was issued last September and remains in effect. A spokesperson for the Planning Board said this Thursday night’s scheduled hearing on the Meena matter will be continued to May because of the stay.

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