County Council Appoints Transportation Veteran to Planning Board

Gerald Cichy’s priority is development that fits in with existing neighborhoods


Published:

Gerald Cichy during the Montgomery County Council session Tuesday

Montgomery County Council

Gerald Cichy, a former director of the county’s Department of Transportation, will take over for Planning Board Commissioner Amy Presley once her second term runs out in July.

The County Council on Tuesday appointed Cichy to the five-member board over four other finalists. The 77-year-old Rockville man retired last year from a job with the Maryland Transit Administration at the end of a decades-long career in the field that included work on county and state projects such as the Corridor Cities Transitway and Purple Line light-rail.

“My wife and I are pretty vested in the community. I just sort of see this as a way to give back,” Cichy told Bethesda Beat Tuesday. “It’s kind of repurposing your life to some degree, but I have the time.”

The Planning Board post Cichy will take over is officially a part-time job with an annual salary of $30,000. But the five Planning Board commissioners have many duties, including approving development proposals and new zoning through area master plans, and overseeing the budget of the Montgomery Parks department.

Cichy, a Republican, was chosen to replace Presley, also a Republican. No more than three members of the five-member board can be from one political party. Commissioners Natali Fani-Gonzalez and Marye Wells-Harley as well as Chairman Casey Anderson are Democrats. Commissioner Norman Dreyfuss is a Republican.

Cichy’s term will last four years. Commissioners are limited to two consecutive terms.

Cichy served as the director of the county’s Department of Transportation under County Executive Charles Gilchrist from 1979-1984 before moving on to stints  with the Maryland Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation and District of Columbia Department of Transportation.

He said he’s been consulting for the Virginia Department of Transportation since retiring last year and was awarded a patent for a bus rapid transit vehicle with doors that open directly to station platforms. He also got an award from the Federal Transit Administration for his concept of a 200-mile bus rapid transit system that would supplement the D.C. region’s Metrorail system.

Cichy said his philosophy on development is that “the county does need to grow to be viable,” and that more dense redevelopment that has incited controversy in some parts of the county “needs to follow some of the major corridors” outlined in the region’s 1964 Wedges & Corridors planning philosophy.

“If we follow the corridors, the Route 29 and I-95 corridor and the I-270 and [Route] 355 corridor, and we’re able to increase development there, I think we can accommodate additional population in the county,” Cichy said. “I think the younger generation, some of their interests are different than what there was in the past. I think we can blend that with existing communities.”

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