Credit: File photo

The County Council’s list of finalists to temporarily fill five Planning Board seats includes three former board members, a former council member, a longtime council attorney, local architects and others with experience in planning and development.

On Monday afternoon, the council released the list of 11 finalists that it is expected to interview Tuesday afternoon during its regular session. The council, which has the authority to hire and dismiss Planning Board members, is then expected to select the temporary board members Thursday.  

The council is seeking temporary acting board members after accepting the resignations of former Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and board members Gerald Cichy, Tina Patterson, Carol Rubin and Partap Verma on Oct. 12. The council accepted the resignations, saying it had lost confidence in the board after weeks of controversy involving its members.

No more than three board members can be from the same political party, according to state law. The list does not include the party affiliation of finalists.

Council President Gabe Albornoz said last week the temporary board members would be “caretakers” who would “build a bridge” until the next council, to be elected in the Nov. 8 general election, appointed permanent board members. But some have criticized the lack of a specific timeframe for appointing permanent members.

Also last week, several local advocacy groups demanded that the council delay the hiring of temporary or permanent Planning Board members until the county can conduct a third-party investigation into the activity of both the board and the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.

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The council appoints the permanent board members, known as commissioners, who serve four-year terms. Board members also serve as commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Board members receive an annual salary of $30,000 and the board chair is paid $227,891, according to the council.

More than 128 county residents applied for the vacant seats, and those who did not make cut as finalists were notified late last week.

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According to the council, the finalists are:

  • Raj Barr-Kumar is an award-winning architect with decades of experience who served in 1997 as the national president of the American Institute of Architects.
  • Cherri L. Branson was the director of the county’s Office of Procurement from June 2015 to December 2018. Previously she was appointed to an interim term representing council District 5 from January to December 2014. In the 2018 Democratic primary, she ran unsuccessfully for a council at-large seat.
  • Former board Chair Francoise M. Carrier, who served from 2010 to 2014. Carrier, who also served nearly nine years as a county zoning hearing examiner, now is an attorney with a Bethesda law firm where she advises clients on land use, zoning and development matters.
  • Norman Dreyfuss served on the Planning Board from 2009 to 2019. He also was a member of the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County from 2005 to 2010. Dreyfuss is the executive vice president of IDI Group Companies, which developed Leisure World in Silver Spring.
  • Barbara Goldberg Goldman is an entrepreneur and a former member and chair of the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County. Goldman has a long history of civic involvement, including the founding of the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County. Earlier this year, she was forced out of her post as deputy treasurer for the Maryland Democratic Party after questioning the political viability of Black gubernatorial candidates.
  • David Hill, a senior systems analyst for Westat and a longtime civic activist, is a former member of the City of Rockville Planning Commission who served from 2006 to 2016.
  • Architect and planner William Kirwan is a principal at Muse Kirwan Architects in Bethesda. He served on the Montgomery County Maryland Historic Preservation Commission from 2009 to 2019, including serving as chair for five years.
  • A retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Vincent J. Napoleon is a lawyer and business executive who has worked with local and federal governments and with industries ranging from aerospace and maritime manufacturing to biotechnology, healthcare and pharmaceutical and technology.
  • Roberto R. Piñero’s career experience includes working as a senior analyst focusing on financial markets and community investments for the U.S. Government Accountability Office from March 1997 to September 2016. He has been a member of the Board of Appeals of Montgomery County since February 2022 and is a former member and chair of the county Housing Opportunities Commission.
  • Amy L. Presley served two terms on the Planning Board from June 2008 to July 2016 and is the founder and managing partner of Trusted Estate Partners, a niche real estate company based in Clarksburg.
  • Attorney Jeffrey L. Zyontz worked on zoning issues for the County Council from 2006 to 2020. Previously, he worked for the M-NCPPC from 1974 to 2006.

Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at julie.rasicot@bethesdamagazine.com