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 announced 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.
“Mr. Stanley brings a wealth of experience in strategic urban growth, department leadership and community and stakeholder partnerships,” Calgary City Manager Owen Tobert said in a statement. “I am confident that Rollin is the right person to reinvigorate the planning approval process and ignite implementation of the long-range plans that resulted from Plan It Calgary, moving us as an organization and a community in our desired direction.”
Montgomery County officials wished Stanley well in his new job.
“We are very saddened to lose him but very pleased for him to have a wonderful opportunity,” said Francoise Carrier, Planning Board chairwoman.
Carrier said the board hopes to hire a new director before the end of the year and will announce in a few weeks how it plans to fill the position in the interim.
Stanley was recruited last winter by Calgary officials, who were familiar with his work and had interviewed him previously. He is expected to begin his job in June.
Stanley’s departure comes more than a month after civic activists in the county called on him to resign after comments he made in a local magazine article in which he characterized a group of his critics as “rich white women” who were “sowing discord.”
The remarks drew a sharp rebuke from Carrier. Stanley later issued a retraction and said he would enroll in conflict-management classes.
Tobert, Stanley’s new boss, acknowledged the recent controversy.
“Rollin made some comments that were offensive to members of some of his stakeholder communities, and that is regrettable,” he said. “He has accepted accountability and took swift measures to address the controversy, make amends and move forward. 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.
In Montgomery, Stanley oversaw a staff of 140 and was paid an annual salary of $185,662.