Council Appoints Five Temporary Acting Planning Board Commissioners

The County Council yesterday chose five temporary acting commissioners for the county’s Planning Board following the recent resignations of all board members.

Jeffrey Zyontz was named temporary acting chair and Amy Presley as the temporary acting vice chair. Cherri Branson, David Hill, and Roberto Piñero were appointed as temporary acting Planning Board commissioners. All but Piñero were sworn in after the vote; he will be sworn in later.

“Given the unprecedented challenges at the Montgomery County Planning Board, the Council has selected a diverse group of experienced leaders, who will reset operations, support the Park and Planning staff, and provide a bridge to the next Planning Board,” said Council President Gabe Albornoz (D-At-Large) in a press release.

The new council, which will be sworn in on Dec. 5 after the November election, will be responsible for selecting a permanent Planning Board.

The incoming council will decide the schedule for choosing the new members, but three are expected to be appointed by March 1, and the other two, including a new chair, by June 14.

“Acknowledging the council’s recognition that our work should not be halted, we will continue to strive to provide the excellent service our residents expect under the guidance of the temporary Board, and until the newly elected County Council can appoint permanent Planning Board members after the November election,” said Asuntha Chiang-Smith, executive director of the the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in a separate release. The Planning Board is part of the M-NCPPC.

Background information about the new acting commissioners includes:

  • Zyontz, a Democrat, is a former staffer at both the board and M-NCPPC and served as a legislative attorney for the County Council
  • Presley, a Republican, served two terms as Planning Board commissioner from June 2008 to July 2016. She got active in planning as president of the Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee, Inc.
  • Branson, a Democrat, is a former director of procurement for the county and served the balance of Valerie Ervin’s term on the council following her resignation
  • Hill, unaffiliated, served on Rockville’s Planning Commission for a decade, and prior to that he was a member of the city’s Board of Appeals, and
  • Piñero, a Democrat, was a commissioner with the Housing Opportunities Commission and also served on the county’s Board of Appeals.

County Council photo from left, Branson, Hill, Presley and Zyontz. Not shown, Piñero.