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Montgomery County’s planning director, Rollin Stanley, headed to Canada

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Montgomery County’s controversial planning director, Rollin Stanley, is headed to Calgary, where he will lead the city’s Planning, Development and Assessment Department, officials said Monday.

Stanley, who announced last week that he would be leaving the job he has held since 2008, will oversee a staff of 800. Calgary is Canada’s third-largest city, with a population of more than 1 million.

In Montgomery, Stanley oversees a staff of 140 and receives an annual salary of $185,662. Calgary officials would not specify what Stanley’s salary would be but said it would range between approximately $175,000 and $282,000.

“We were looking for someone who was a strong visionary and a good communicator,” said Calgary City Manager Owen Tobert. “We’re pleased that Rollin has accepted our offer.”

Montgomery County officials wished Stanley well in his new job and said they hoped to name a successor before the end of the year. Stanley is scheduled to leave the job in mid-May, although a final date had not been set.

“We are very saddened to lose him but very pleased for him to have a wonderful opportunity,” said Francoise Carrier, planning board chairman.

Stanley was recruited last winter by Calgary officials who were familiar with his work and had interviewed him previously for a different position. He is expected to begin in June. His duties will be broader in Calgary and will include managing tax assessments and permitting.

Last month, several civic groups called on Stanley to resign after he characterized a group of his critics as “rich white women” who were “sowing discord” in a Bethesda Magazine article about his push to urbanize the county. Stanley later issued a retraction and pledged to enroll in conflict-management classes.

Tobert, Stanley’s new boss, acknowledged the recent controversy.

“He has accepted accountability and took swift measures to address the controversy, make amends and move forward,” Tobert said. “Rollin’s reputation for community building through cooperation and consensus is stellar, and this lapse is not representative of his career.”

During his tenure, Stanley shepherded through plans to remake the area around White Flint Mall into a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented neighborhood and to create a “science city” development in Gaithersburg. But his push for denser, walkable, transit-oriented communities and his brusque manner often rubbed some longtime civic activists the wrong way. Those who were skeptical of Stanley’s approach scoffed at his contention that traffic congestion was good because it would force people out of their cars.

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