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County Names New Planning Director

County Manager Mark Schwartz announced Thursday (September 14) the appointment of Claude Williamson as director of the Arlington County Department of Community, Housing, Planning and Development.

Williamson, who served as interim director since March following the departure of Steven Cover, has been with the department for 20 years. He served as Comprehensive Planning Supervisor for more than 11 years, and has experience in planning, management and civic engagement.

Becoming CPHD director is “a unique opportunity to lead a very talented and creative group of professionals to deliver the highest quality products and services,” Williamson said in a statement.  “These efforts are necessary to achieve our community-based vision for an Arlington that is inclusive, diverse, safe, and urban, with economically strong commercial centers and stable residential neighborhoods.”

The department has come in for some criticism in recent times, with some in the community blaming it for delays in new businesses opening in the county.

More from a county press release:

Claude Williamson has been named Arlington County’s Director for Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) after serving as acting director since March.

In appointing Williamson this week, County Manager Mark Schwartz said the 20-year County staffer “brings vast experience plus great talent in understanding the needs of residents, businesses and long-term community objectives. That’s the kind of essential leadership that we want to encourage and keep in Arlington County.”

CPHD is responsible for planning in County neighborhoods and along the densely developed, transit-oriented Metro corridors. CPHD is the lead agency in implementing the County’s Smart Growth planning vision.

Becoming CPHD Director is “a unique opportunity to lead a very talented and creative group of professionals to deliver the highest quality products and services,” Williamson said.  “These efforts are necessary to achieve our community-based vision for an Arlington that is inclusive, diverse, safe, and urban, with economically strong commercial centers and stable residential neighborhoods.”

Williamson joined the County and CPHD in 1997 and served as the Comprehensive Planning Supervisor for more than 11 years. His broad background in planning, management and civic engagement has influenced a multitude of major planning initiatives and projects.

He has been instrumental in the development and implementation of both sector and area plans across Arlington, and has provided significant leadership during zoning ordinance reviews and updates, inter-jurisdictional planning efforts and other key planning activities.

In the director’s role, Williams oversees all CPHD activities including the development review process; housing and comprehensive planning; neighborhood services; zoning administration; inspections, code enforcement and data analysis.

Before joining Arlington County, Williamson worked for the New Orleans City Planning Commission on a variety of projects and initiatives. He holds a Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Maryland School of Architecture and both a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Science from Suffolk University in Boston.

Williamson is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He lives in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington D.C. with his husband Michael and son Evan.

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