Casey Anderson, a lawyer, former congressional staffer and biking enthusiast, was named the new chairman of the Montgomery Planning Board by the County Council on Tuesday.
Anderson, 46, has served on the five-member board since 2011. He succeeds Françoise Carrier, who did not seek appointment to a second four-year term.
The chairman leads an influential panel that makes recommendations to the council on land use and zoning matters. The job is often ground zero for the county’s bruising battles over growth.
The other finalists for the job were another current board member, Norman Dreyfuss; former board member Meredith Wellington; Deputy Planning Director Rose Krasnow; and former County Council member Mike Knapp.
Anderson, who lives in Silver Spring, is a former board member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and past vice president of the Woodside Civic Association. He is a strong advocate of “smart growth” policies that seek to reduce suburban sprawl by concentrating development around mass transit. He also told the council in his interview last week that one of his priorities would be using planning policy to address the county’s shortage of affordable housing, which he calls “a social justice issue.”
His candidacy received broad support, with endorsements by the county’s Chamber of Commerce and Sierra Club chapter as well as the Action Committee for Transit.
“Casey has the right combination of experience and skills,” said George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), the council’s vice president. “He fully understands the need to preserve those things that make Montgomery County special, but also moving us into the future.”
But there was some tension underlying Anderson’s selection.
The council approved his appointment by an 8-to-1 vote, with Marc Elrich (D-At Large) in opposition. Elrich has been highly critical of board recommendations on Carrier’s watch. For example, the council significantly reduced the amount of construction the board approved for the environmentally sensitive Ten Mile Creek watershed.
“I feel like the council has done an enormous amount of work correcting the product that’s come out of the Planning Board,” said Elrich, who favored Wellington for the post.
Leventhal praised Carrier, who attended Tuesday’s council session, and essentially apologized for some of the often-withering criticism she received at the hands of the council — a comment aimed primarily, although not exclusively, at Elrich.
“I believe that her interaction with the council was not a happy one,” Leventhal said.
The council set Anderson’s salary at $200,000 a year, $30,000 more than Carrier was paid. The decision came on a 6-to-3 vote, which was unusual for the council, with Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) and Elrich opposed.
Council members who supported the pay increase said it needed to be more closely aligned with what county department heads make. They also cited the pay of the Prince George’s County Planning Board: just over $200,000.
Carrier said that compensation had been an issue when she was appointed in 2010. She was hired at the bottom of the advertised salary range for the post, which was between $160,000 to $180,000.
“It was way too low,” she said. “I’m glad they’ve used the appointment to [better] compensate the chair.”
Anderson will take over in early August. The council will interview applicants to fill the vacancy on the board created by his appointment.