After nine years on the planning board, and the last one as chair, Susan Auglis has finally termed out. Auglis, 66, grew up in Scarborough and has lived in town for the past 30 years. She is a recently retired yoga teacher and bookkeeper, and also spent many years in customer service. On Dec. 19, the Town Council recognized Auglis, along with nine-year planning board member Bud Hanson and former Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Pat Dryzga, for their service to the town. Last week, Auglis spoke to The Current about her experience on the board and her plans for filling up her extra free time.

Q: Why did you originally join the planning board?

A: I had been involved already in the committee that implemented the last comprehensive plan. One piece of that was an open space plan. I took it on myself to form an open space committee. Frankly, it was both wonderful and terrible. We came up with an excellent plan, but we didn’t call the public into our deliberations soon enough, and when we did, we just got hammered. So, I learned a big lesson from that, and I got really interested in the process at town hall. When an opening came up on the planning board, I applied. I spent many years as an alternate and many years as a regular voting member, and then one year as chair. I loved it. It was a great experience.

Q: How was you experience different in your last year as chair?

A: You have to be more concerned about the operation of the meeting. You also get more involved with staff before the meeting. Other than that, it’s not a whole lot different. I was still just one member of the board.

Q: What have been the most memorable projects you have worked on?

A: One would be Sullivan Tire. If you look at it closely, it’s one huge warehouse, and when it came in, it looked like a warehouse. The engineer was obstructionist. He just wouldn’t work with us at all. We made a plea to talk to the applicant and they hired a new engineer who came to us and said, “I’ve been told by the owner of Sullivan Tire all you have to do is tell us what you want.” Now, I’m extremely proud of that building. And that was before we had design standards.

Q: How have things changed since design standards have been implemented?

A: The design standards are one of the things I’ve been most proud of. That started when the present town manager came to us and said, “Remember, you’re a planning board. It’s in your purview to ask for the tools you need.” Before then, the planning board had been “this meets the ordinances” or “this doesn’t meet the ordinances.” That changed the attitude of myself and other members of the board at the time. The first thing we wanted was design standards. Now, we’ve got a great tool. It’s a wonderful document. On the board now, there’s a developer, someone who works with property management – people with a wide range of expertise. I see a lot more active involvement.

Q: What are some buildings that benefited from those standards?

A: I’m very proud of Wendy’s. That building is kitty-cornered. It’s very different and it works. This is not your run-of-the-mill, standard Wendy’s. Tim Horton’s, again, is a very nice looking building. I’m very proud of all of that.

Q: What has been the most difficult project you have worked on?

A: The biggest challenge I’ve had since I’ve been on the board has been Cabela’s. When a contract zone comes before the planning board, it’s tricky. The problem was more with the development around Cabela’s. The sheer size of it was, quite frankly, intimidating. It was a lot of work. We had special meetings. We had disagreements. I was just overwhelmed. I think it’s going to be fine. If I had been on the council when that came in, I would have been against it. If the people are right about the business it’s going to bring in, it’s going to change Scarborough. I really feel as though I did all that I could possibly do. We’ll see how it works out. It’s too early to tell. It could be a wonderful thing.

Q: What are you most excited about watching develop in Scarborough?

A: The implementation of the comprehensive plan when it comes to the transfer of development rights. If you’re developing in a higher density part of town, you can get greater density by buying the development rights from a lower density area. The idea here is that people get the value of their land without having to cover it with houses. It’s trying to address the issue of sprawl.

Q: Do you think it will be hard to watch from the sidelines?

A: Yes. I’ve gotten very used to knowing what’s going on in town. I used to make snow angels in the middle of Black Point Road. Needless to say, Scarborough has changed a lot. My father was one of these people that complained all the time and did nothing. It drove me crazy. My thing has been land use. I’ve enjoyed knowing what’s going on. I don’t think I’ll be completely out of the loop. I’m still on the comprehensive plan implementation committee. Nine years is a long time. We need new blood. I think term limits are good. It’ll be a change. I won’t go into hiding. There’s a lot going on in Scarborough. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is watching the planning staff increase. This is a sign to me that the town is really serious about planning. We’re taking charge of our own community.

Q: Do you have plans to fill up the free time you will gain by not being on the board?

A: I hope I will have a little free time. I’ve been one of those too-many-things-on-my-plate people forever. I have 8-year-old grandchildren. I’ve never had enough time to spend with them. My mother is 90. Hopefully, there’ll be some time in there for just sitting – less doing, more being. I’ve discovered something that not a lot of doers know: I can stop doing, and the world is still going to revolve on its axis. I hope people seriously consider donating their time to the town who have an interest in what’s going on. They come up to me at Hannaford Bros., so I know people actually sit there and watch this. It’s not that much work, and it’s very rewarding. Find out what’s available and become active.

Q: If a movie was made about your life, what would it be called and who would play you?

A: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. It’s an actual movie. It’s about a woman who decides she’s going to take control of her life. I’m 66 years old and I come from a time when women were held to certain standards. I’ve always felt I was incredibly fortunate because I had choices. One of my favorite actresses is Nicole Kidman. She’s a survivor; she was married to Tom Cruise. Someone else I like is Jodie Foster. She would be better. You don’t know anything about Jodie Foster; you just know her movies.

Susan Auglis holds a plaque she received from the Town Council in recognition of her nine years of service on the planning board.


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