Wheeling resigns from Ferrisburgh zoning post

FERRISBURGH — Longtime Ferrisburgh zoning administrator Ken Wheeling resigned his post in a letter to the Ferrisburgh selectboard that the town received on Aug. 14.
Wheeling, 79, had since July 17 been on what Ferrisburgh selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence described “as an indefinite leave of absence” for undisclosed reasons.
The leave of absence was the second in 18 months for Wheeling. In February 2016 Wheeling suffered a stroke while driving in his hometown of Monkton — where he has been a popular longtime town meeting moderator — and his car struck a tree.
He did not return to his work as a zoning administrator in Ferrisburgh, Monkton and Waltham until early May last year. According to town officials in Monkton and Waltham, Wheeling remains the zoning administrator in those towns even after stepping down from the Ferrisburgh post earlier this month.
In his one-paragraph letter of resignation from Ferrisburgh, Wheeling said he “wanted to shift my focus to other pursuits,” including gardening, and that he “enjoyed working with everyone.”
“What a guy,” Lawrence said. “In his letter he talked about doing all the things he never had time to do, gardening and all that. So we wish him the best.”
Before Wheeling resigned Ferrisburgh had already hired an interim zoning administrator — retired attorney and town resident Bonnie Barnes, a 1973 Princeton University graduate.
Barnes served from 1995 to 2013 as judicial law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions, years where she also taught at Vermont Law School as an adjunct professor. Before then she spent 10 years in private practice with Sessions, Keiner and Dumont, P.C., after earning a law degree from Northeastern.
Barnes, who was hired after an Aug. 7 interview conducted by zoning board chairwoman Charlene Stavenow and planning chairman Bob Beach as well as selectboard members, also has a master’s in planning from the University of Vermont.
Her early work has earned good reviews. According to Aug. 15 selectboard minutes Stavenow said Barnes is “making a tremendous difference already” and is a “quick study and a great joy to work with.”
Wheeling had been working 15 hours a week at $24 per hour, while Lawrence said Barnes will spend up to 20 hours a week on the job at the same rate of pay. 
The selectboard is advertising for a permanent zoning administrator, but at the same time hoping Barnes will agree to remove the interim from her title, especially with a rewrite of zoning laws on the horizon.
“We’re still advertising. Bonnie said she would help on the short term, but one never knows. We haven’t really discussed it, but it would be great,” Lawrence said. “We kind of hinted that it was there if she wanted it.”

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