Marye Wells-Harley Selected by Council For Montgomery County Planning Board Silver Spring Resident Will Be First African-American Woman on County’s Planning Board
ROCKVILLE, Md., July 21, 2009—The Montgomery County Council today selected Marye Wells-Harley of Silver Spring to serve a full four-year term on the Montgomery County Planning Board. Ms. Wells-Harley, whose appointment must by confirmed by County Executive Isiah Leggett, would become the first African-American female to serve on the planning agency.
Ms. Wells-Harley, who was among six applicants interviewed by the Council from among 18 applicants, will fill the seat on the five-member board of John Robinson. Mr. Robinson served two terms and was not eligible for reappointment.
Ms. Wells-Harley’s nomination was originally supported by seven of the eight County Councilmembers (Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg was absent). Councilmember George Leventhal nominated Roberto R. Piñero of Silver Spring. After the first ballot, he joined the other seven Councilmembers for an official vote of unanimous acclamation.
Ms. Wells-Harley, a Democrat, retired in 2007 from the Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission as director of Parks and Recreation for the Prince George’s County. She had worked for the agency for 42 years—the last six as the director of parks and recreation. In that position, she was responsible for planning, developing and implementing a comprehensive park and recreation program for Prince George’s County. She is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.
In her letter of application for the Planning Board position, Ms. Wells-Harley wrote, “As a member of the Planning Board, I would work toward ensuring that Montgomery County is both affordable and accessible to the people who work, and have worked, to make this County the unique place we all know it to be.”
Council President Phil Andrews said that the Council was very impressed with the applicants it interviewed.
“We probably could have formed an entire planning board from among the people we interviewed,” said Council President Andrews. “We had some very qualified people apply for the position and, although the selection process was difficult, the Council feels we made an excellent selection in Marye Wells-Harley, who will bring an unprecedented level of experience with parks issues to the board.”
No more than three members of the Planning Board may be from the same political party, and all members must be residents and registered voters of Montgomery County when appointed. Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two full terms. The position can be filled by a Democrat; a Republican; a voter who declines to affiliate with a party; or by a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
The other board members are Chairman Royce Hanson, a Democrat; Joseph Alfandre, a Democrat; Jean B. Cryor, a Republican; and Amy Presley, a Republican. Annual compensation for board members currently is $30,000.
The Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. Planning Board members also serve as commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
The Planning Board’s responsibilities with regard to planning include preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of Master Plans and functional plans; formulation of subdivision regulations; preparation of, or recommendations, on text amendments to the County Zoning Ordinance; implementation of the subdivision process by reviewing and approving all preliminary plans, site plans and other plans for development; advice on the planning implication of capital facilities and programs of the County government, Montgomery College, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Montgomery County Public Schools; commenting, under its Mandatory Referral authority, on plans for public facilities of local, state and federal agencies; and approval of the work program and the annual operating budget for the Planning Department and the commission’s bi-county offices.
The Planning Board sits as the Park Commission and approves the annual Parks Department operating budget and Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget; land acquisition contracts and major development contracts for parks; development plans for individual park facilities; policies for park operations; and park user fees.
The Montgomery County Planning Board meets all day every Thursday and often meets on one other evening a week. The entire Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of every month. On average, a Planning Board member can expect to spend at least two full days a week in scheduled and informal meetings. Additionally, substantial time is required for preparatory work and other activities related to Planning Board responsibilities.