Rayport And Kitchener In Two-Way Race For Vacant Planning Board Seat

Jason Graziadei •

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Only two people declared their candidacies for the open seat on the Planning Board vacated by John Trudel earlier this month - one of them an insider, and the other a vocal critic of the town's planning regime.

The two candidates are Hillary Hedges Rayport - a lightning rod of criticism and controversy who has regularly called out the Planning Board in recent years - and John Kitchener, a former supply chain executive who has served as an alternate member of the Planning Board since September 2023.

Rayport and Kitchener are seeking to complete one year of Trudel's remaining term before the 2025 annual town election. One of them will be appointed by a joint vote of the members of the Select Board and the Planning Board on May 22nd.

"I believe the Planning Board has a critical role to play in achieving the right balance between more development and the need to maintain a sustainable level of land use on our island," Kitchener wrote to the two boards in his interest letter. "As an alternate member I have enjoyed being part of that process. I am not an architect or a member of our real estate/construction industries. But I am reasonably intelligent and able to ask insightful questions that help get to the best solutions."

Kitchener, who owns a home on Monomoy Road and served on the executive board of the Monomoy Civic Association, also served on the town's Short-Term Rental Workgroup. He was a co-founder of the property management company Nantucket Property Watch, which he turned over to his partner in 2021.

Rayport, a Main Street homeowner who also lives in Boston, previously served on the Nantucket Historical Commission. But she was ousted from her role as chair of the commission in July 2022 in a controversial vote by the Select Board and was subsequently the subject of another contentious episode when her voting status was challenged by Linda Williams. Last May, Rayport’s citizen petition to change the makeup of the Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission (NP&EDC) by adding elected seats, was approved at Town Meeting by just a single vote: 183 to 182. The petition had been roundly criticized by members of the NP&EDC and other town government officials.

"I've been attending or listening to most of the Planning Board meetings and the NP&EDC meetings for some years now," Rayport wrote in her letter seeking to be considered as a candidate. "I've also shown my interest and qualifications by attending several citizen planner training classes that are offered by the official training body of the Commonwealth, the CPTC. I have qualifications in preservation planning and have done a lot of research on the history of planning and zoning on Nantucket. I believe the role of a Planning Board member is to review applications and determine, with advice of staff and deliberation with applications and residents, if they follow the local and state laws. Planning Board members also have an important role planning for orderly development of Nantucket and keeping neighborhoods benefiting residents, while also planning intelligently for positive change." 

With Trudel's resignation coming after the candidate nomination deadline for the May 21st annual town election and with two years left on his term, his departure sets up a unique process to appoint a successor to complete one year of his term that will run up to the 2025 annual town meeting.

The appointment for Trudel's seat will then be made jointly by the members of the Select Board and Planning Board at a meeting set for May 22, the day after the town election when incumbent Planning Board chair David Iverson will face challenger Campbell Sutton in a contest for a five-year term.

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