Selectman in Hollis resigning

HOLLIS – Selectman Mark Johnson announced his resignation from the board Tuesday afternoon, a day after attending his last board meeting.

Johnson, who also serves as the selectmen’s representative to the town budget committee, said he and his family are relocating to Pennsylvania to be closer to his wife’s family.

Selectman Mark LeDoux will replace Johnson as the representative to the budget committee.

“It was really a shock. He came by to see me and told me he was resigning,” LeDoux said. “He’s a good friend, and I have to confess, I understand, but it’s sad.”

LeDoux described his colleague as “a steadfast advocate protecting the taxpayer” and a “tireless” worker on behalf of the community.

He said Johnson’s resignation is “a loss to our community.”

Johnson, 52, and his wife, Karen, have five children, four who are adults and one who’s in college. The family moved to Hollis from Pennsylvania in 1994.

A native of Hudson, Mass., Johnson is a publishing consultant. He had no prior experience in local government when he joined a community effort to protest plans by a national drug store chain to locate a 10,000-square-foot retail pharmacy in the town’s historic district about 12 years ago.

“We collected hundreds of names on petitions, did letter writing to let Rite-Aid know that the historic district was not an appropriate location for a 10,000-square-foot retail store,” Johnson said.

Afterward, Johnson was tapped to serve on the town Zoning Board of Adjustment, where he held a seat for six years. He also served on the Historic District Commission for three years and on the budget committee for two years.

Johnson has served on the board of selectmen for 4-1/2 years. He is a former chairman.

Looking back, he said he said he takes pride in several accomplishments.

“I was chairman when we purchased Woodmont Orchards and other parcels, hundreds of acres of farmland and forest preserved in perpetuity,” Johnson said.

In addition, he said, he leaves the community knowing he made decisions that were in the best interest of the taxpayers.

“I never asked taxpayers for a single dollar that wasn’t recommended by the budget committee,” Johnson said. “We returned money back to the taxpayers every year by under-expending. We didn’t ask for money at Town Meeting not appropriated by the budget committee.”

Johnson credited the Land Protection Study Committee and “teamwork” with accomplishing the $3.2 million purchase of Woodmont Orchards, pointing out that he “shepherded it through a special town meeting.”

He said he and his family plan to move in October.

“It’s very mixed,” he said of his decision to relocate to Pennsylvania. “We’ve had great friends, great times in Hollis, and it’s always bittersweet.”