Faroll Hamer will not assume her responsibilities as Alexandrias new director of planning and zoning until late April, but on Tuesday night she came to the city to meet her staff and members of City Council.
We welcome you and look forward to working with you, Mayor William D. Euille told Hamer. It is a very busy time for the planning department so I am certain that we will all get to know each other very quickly.
City Manager James Hartmann announced Hamers appointment last week. She has been a planner in Maryland since 1987, working for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in both Prince Georges and Montgomery counties. Since 2005, she has served as acting director for their Montgomery County Planning Department.
Montgomery County has about 900,000 people and encompasses 500 square miles. Its a lot bigger than Alexandria but has some of the same planning challenges, Hamer said. For example, I have been dealing with redevelopment and in-fill issues as well as how to deal with old industrial sites when they arent really useful for industry anymore.
Also, Montgomery County has historic areas in Chevy Chase and Tacoma Park and a very strong historic preservation master plan. Its not quite the same as Old Town, of course, but there are individual historic houses throughout the county, Hamer said.
Lure of the water
She decided to come to Alexandria because, Alexandria has fabulous opportunities. For one thing, there is the waterfront. Montgomery County doesnt have a waterfront.
Next year the city is going to do a waterfront master plan and any planner would give their eye teeth to be involved in planning for a waterfront area. Also, its a little more hands-on, indepth planning than I have been doing. There is a really interesting mix of master plans and development that I am really excited about the challenges, she said.
As for citizen participation in the planning process, Hamer said, Both in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties, I worked hard to increase citizen participation in a number of projects. My experience has been that when citizens get involved in the development process, the project is better. Its a win-win for everybody.
Hamer grew up in New Jersey, got a bachelors degree in English from Smith College and a masters degree in landscape architecture from Morgan State. She has a 13-year-old son and lives in Tacoma Park. She enjoys many different types of architecture but, I tend to be drawn to very modern architecture except that when I choose some place to live, I always pick places that look like Tacoma Park, she said.
Hamer will be responsible for supervising 37 employees and managing a budget of $4.2 million a year. In addition to the waterfront master plan, she will oversee completion of the Braddock Road plan, the Landmark/Van Dorn plan and planning for Eisenhower West.