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Mayor appoints three to city’s Planning Board

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There’s been a major shift in the makeup of the city Planning Board with the appointment of three new members.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham announced the appointments last week, following the recent death of veteran member E. Alan Harris Jr. and the unexpected resignation of William R. “Randy” Fipps. The third appointment was a result of another resignation, that of Sarah Warner, who moved to Syracuse a few months ago.

The new members are: Megan Pistolese, a Jefferson Community College environmental studies graduate; William R. Davis, a design engineer who had worked at Fort Drum, and Neil Katzman, a local landlord and property manager.

Mr. Harris, who had served on the Planning Board for 11 years, died June 9 of injuries he suffered in a car accident three days earlier. It was not until days later that city officials learned of his death.

“He was very dedicated with his commitment to the Planning Board,” said Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator. “He looked at it very seriously. He’ll be missed on the board.”

Mr. Fipps resigned after a controversial decision by the Watertown City Council to go against the Planning Board over a zoning change on Washington Street for a proposed medical uniform business at 703 Washington St.

The three vacancies left the board with just two members with more than two years experience as planners. They are chairwoman Sara S. Freda, who has served for about five years, and Lori J. Gervera, on the board since 1997.

“It’s been difficult because I don’t think we’ve had so many appointments all at one time,” Mr. Mix said.

Patrick A. Fontana joined the board in October, and Lawrence J. Coburn was appointed in August 2010.

Two of the new members had inquired on the city’s website about volunteering, while the third had contacted interim City Manager John C. Krol about serving on the board, Mr. Mix said.

The mayor, Ms. Freda and Mr. Mix met with the applicants individually last week before the mayor made the appointments Thursday. Mr. Graham was forced to act quickly because of the three vacancies, he said.

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