Howard County Names New Planning & Zoning Director

Valdis Lazdins has been named the new Director of Planning & Zoning for Howard County, taking over for Marsha McLaughlin who stepped down after being the head of the department for 13 years.

Lazdins photo
Valdis Lazdins, Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun article states that Lazdins

is taking on the role of planning director at a time of significant change for the county. Downtown Columbia is beginning to transform into the urban core envisioned in its master plan, while the focus along Route 1 and Route 40, which are, respectively, the industrial and strip shopping center corridors of the county, is on revitalization. Faced with increasing outside competition, Columbia’s village centers will also have to evolve.

Lazdins, who worked most recently for the Montgomery County Planning Department, brings a research-based perspective to the task of managing that change. As chief of research and special projects in Montgomery, he worked on a study of the office market in the Washington region, and was preparing to launch a study of national retail trends before accepting the job in Howard County.

“From a strategy standpoint, I think we need to look at where are there opportunities for change, and from the public sector standpoint, what kinds of carrots do we need to dangle in front of these property owners to facilitate change? … I think that facilitating change in the right locations is going to be key.”

For now, however, Lazdins says his “number one priority is to figure out how the county operates.”

In the short term, he’s also hoping to fill vacant staff positions and make improvements to the planning department’s website so that more information can be made available to the public.

And he’s taking on the role of planning director right as a task force appointed by County Executive Allan Kittleman starts to review the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which is intended to ensure that infrastructure in the county keeps pace with development.

To read the full article on Howard County’s new director of planning and zoning, Valdis Lazdins, visit The Baltimore Sun online.