Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson Credit: Montgomery Planning Department

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:25 p.m. Oct. 12, 2022, to add a statement from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, at 6 p.m. to add statements from County Council Vice President Evan Glass and County Executive Marc Elrich, and at 6:20 p.m. to add a statement from Council Member Hans Riemer.

The County Council announced Wednesday that it has accepted the resignation of all five members of the Montgomery County Planning Board, saying it has lost confidence in the board.

The announcement follows weeks of controversy involving the board, including the reprimand of board Chair Casey Anderson and two commissioners after revelations that Anderson kept a full bar in his office against Planning Department rules, allegations against Anderson about the Planning Department workplace, the board’s abrupt firing last week without cause of longtime Planning Director Gwen Wright, who had led the department since mid-2013 and was set to retire, and a published report of new allegations this week that board Vice Chairman Partap Verma violated ethics laws during recent investigations involving Anderson.

The council has accepted the resignations of Anderson, who was in his second term as board chair; Verma; and Commissioners Gerald Cichy, Tina Patterson and Carol Rubin. These resignations are effective immediately, according to a council press release.

“The Montgomery County Council is united in taking the steps necessary to ensure that the Montgomery County Planning Board can serve its critical functions and oversee the Planning and Parks Departments’ important work for our community,” council President Gabe Albornoz said in the release. “The Council has lost confidence in the Montgomery County Planning Board and accepted these resignations to reset operations. We are acting with deliberate speed to appoint new commissioners to move Montgomery County forward. We thank the commissioners for their service to our County.”

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


Council Vice President Evan Glass told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that the council didn’t see a way forward with the Planning Board as it stood.

“The situations at the Planning Board had become unsustainable and we needed to stop it. The best way to stop it was to start fresh with new Planning Board members. That is the process we have unanimously agreed upon and are undertaking,” Glass said. “We needed to restore confidence in the Planning Board. That is what this action strives to do.”

Glass said the county will move forward with major planning, such as the proposed Thrive 2050 plan, through the work of Planning Department employees. The council is expected to vote later this month on Thrive 2050, the controversial proposed update to the county’s general master plan that will guide development for decades.

“The Planning Department will continue to do its work with the support of dozens and dozens of planners and engineers and supervisors who will continue doing the work that they do. The only difference is that the Planning Board meetings will be delayed,” Glass said.


Glass said the council has set forth an “expeditious timeline” to appoint interim Planning Board members.

“We recognize that time is money and plans need to be approved and receive oversight,” Glass said.

Council Member Hans Riemer said the council will be looking for interim Planning Board members who can get the board back on its feet.


“I think we can find an interim board of people who have a real familiarity with the work of the Planning Board and can just keep routine business moving forward while the council sets up a process to bring on new board members, and that will surely be the job of the next council to pick them and then put a board in place and and keep moving,” Riemer said. “We need people who inspire public confidence and have real deep familiarity with the work of the Planning Commission and the council.”

Riemer said he has faith in the Planning Department to keep planning moving forward.

“We’ve got an amazing planning department. It’s a very significant professional staff that is one of the best in the country and they’re gonna keep doing their work. And we’ll get through this very soon,” he said.


In a statement Wednesday, County Executive Marc Elrich said he had been following the recent events concerning the board with “growing concern,” though he hasn’t participated in conversations about the details.

“I think where people are implicated, a resignation is appropriate. This cannot be the end of the conversation on the dysfunction and structural issues at Planning,” he wrote in the statement. “The Planning Board and Commission face a deficit of trust, and continued questions about management, transparency and process must be addressed.  I stand ready to work with the Council to ensure transparency in choosing the interim members of the board and ensure that the investigations continue.”

In addition to the recent controversies, Elrich said the Planning Board has also been cited with multiple violations of the Open Meetings Act and noted that concerns over equity and community input regarding the development of the Thrive 2050 plan “should have been recognized and dealt with” instead of what he described as “the push for quick adoption.” 


“It is clear that new people and new voices are needed on the Planning Board. Park and Planning has been run by a group of insiders for far too long. There needs to be a respectful balance of the views of developers and those of the community,” Elrich said. “I hope that the new Planning Board appointees reflect the demographics of this community and are committed to our residents, community input, and an efficient and transparent process.”

Following the council’s announcement, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission released its own statement acknowledging the resignations.

“M-NCPPC respects the Montgomery County Council’s authority over the appointed Planning Board members and will coordinate closely with the Council through this transition period,” M-NCPPC Executive Director Asuntha Chiang-Smith said in the statement. “We remain focused on providing the support and leadership necessary for the professional staff at the Montgomery County Planning Department and Parks Department to continue their outstanding service.”


“Since our agency was founded in 1927, M-NCPPC has worked together as One Commission dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties,” said Prince George’s County Planning Board Chair and M-NCPPC Chair Peter Shapiro. “And we will continue to do so.”

The commission also announced the cancellation of county Planning Board meetings scheduled for Oct. 13 and 20. “Agenda items scheduled to be reviewed on those dates will be rescheduled to a later meeting,” the statement said.

The Planning Department said Wednesday that projects scheduled for upcoming meetings are being reviewed “to see how they can be handled” and the department will be in touch with applicants.


The Oct. 19 commission meeting consisting of both counties’ planning boards also has been cancelled and will be rescheduled, the commission’s statement said.

Tanya Stern was appointed as acting director of the county Planning Department following Friday’s vote by Verma, Rubin, Cichy and Patterson to oust Wright, who was set to retire in three months. Stern had served as deputy director under Wright since August 2018.

Former county Planning Director Gwen Wright. Credit: Provided photo

“Our commitment to Montgomery County and our planning work remains steadfast during this transition,” Stern said in the commission’s statement. “The Montgomery County Planning Department will continue to move forward on our robust master planning and regulatory work program as the County Council appoints new Planning Board members.”


In its release, the council said it is “confident” that Stern will “provide steady leadership in the weeks ahead. The Council also appreciates and supports Park and Planning staff.”

The council is set to select Oct. 25 new temporary acting board commissioners, the release said. Applicants with expertise in land use, planning, economic development, transportation, and environmental and park issues are encouraged to apply by the deadline of 5 p.m. Oct. 18, the release said.

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


Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at