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Sylva planning board gets two new members

Sylva planning board gets two new members

The Town of Sylva has two new members on its planning board following a pair of unanimous votes from town commissioners Thursday, Jan. 9. 

Commissioners had to fill seats previously held by Joe Bill Matthews and Benjamin Guiney. Matthews’ term was expiring, and he did not wish to be reappointed to an additional three-year term. Guiney resigned his seat mid-term following his election to the town board in November. 

Four people applied for the two seats, and commissioners said they were pleased with the variety of options. 

“I was very impressed with some of these resumes,” said Commissioner Greg McPherson. 

The applicant pool included construction project manager Alan Brown, former New Hampshire House of Representatives member Geoffrey Hirsch, former planning board chairman and 2019 town board candidate Luther Jones and pharmacist Melissa Madrona. 

McPherson recommended that the board appoint Madrona to fill Guiney’s term, which ends on Feb. 28, 2022. Madrona is also Guiney’s wife. Guiney recused himself from the vote. 

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“I think she brings a unique perspective with her work in the Cherokee Indian Hospital and understands some of the complexities of the issues that we’re faced with these days,” said McPherson. 

In her application, Madrona explained how the skills she has acquired as a pharmacist would apply to her role on the planning board. 

“As a pharmacist, I regularly weigh risks and benefits in a detail-oriented manner to determine the best course of action in patients’ health care; I deal with people from different social stations and levels of power to try to reach consensus; and I have to be a good listener to determine a patient’s perspective and try to shape their medication use to positively affect their health while also factoring in their priorities and lifestyle,” she wrote. “These skills and abilities could be applicable to balancing the good of the town with the desires of individuals in town planning.”

Commissioner David Nestler recommended Brown for a three-year term to fill Matthews’ seat. 

“I thought his application was impressive, and since he has some experience with construction, especially the management side, I would welcome his opinion on what we could do in our ordinances to encourage some solutions to what I see as a housing shortage,” said Nestler. 

In his application, Brown said that he has undergraduate degrees in construction technology as well as design and drafting, and that he has worked in the construction industry for 15 years, currently as a construction project manager with Civil Design Concepts in Waynesville. 

“I wish to serve on the town planning board to help shape the town’s vision for the future through proper planning and managing our community’s growth,” he wrote. “I also like to be involved in the town and working with others to see the town prosper.”

The seven-member planning board meets monthly to develop ordinance recommendations for commissioners to consider. Following last week’s vote, two of those seven seats will be occupied by the spouse of a sitting town board member. Boyd Sossamon, husband of Mayor Lynda Sossamon, chairs the planning board. 

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