Director of Planning and Zoning Ricky Barker has taken a new job, an hour’s drive away in Rockville, MD.
Barker will be leaving the department almost exactly three years after he joined it, clocking in for the last time in Loudoun on June 15.
“Loudoun has been a really great experience for me, and a lot of good things are happening here,” Barker said.
He also leaves as a 26-member steering committee is wrapping up work on the first draft of the new comprehensive plan, the guiding document for planning in Loudoun. He said he leaves that project in good hands, pointing to leadership by Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Alaina Ray and Deputy County Administrator Charles Yudd, who after turnover in the planning staff have had a direct hand in leading the project in the last several months. Barker said he believes Envision Loudoun, the work to rewrite the comprehensive plan, “will be an award-winning process.”
“The Board [of Supervisors] empowered us to engage the residents with over 9,000 comments and so many participants, developing a draft plan that is moving us ahead and guiding us toward the future,” Barker said.
And he said he leaves a department with “extremely good talent” for whoever will be the next director.
“I’m really proud of the team that’s been built here,” Barker said. “I have no doubt that they’ll do great here without me being here, and the new director will have a really good foundation.”
He said he is leaving because of his preferred focus in his work, and was drawn to Rockville by its “urban and very dynamic” setting and municipal planning.
“All the development side of things is all in one department, from community planning to building inspection—the whole process,” Barker said. “And I’m a very process-oriented person, so that attracted me.”
Before coming to Loudoun, Barkers worked for 20 years in the Town of Cary, NC, a fast-growing town of more than 162,000 in North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. In Rockville, he will work in the county seat of Montgomery County, MD. Like Loudoun, it sits in a technology corridor, although it is known more for biotechnology and research, and has a smaller population of around 67,000.
In Loudoun, Barker oversees a budget of around $7.5 million and a staff of about 60, responsible for reviewing and managing legislative applications such as rezonings, community planning, serving as a planning and zoning services center, and zoning administration and enforcement.
As Rockville’s director of Community Development and Development Services, Barker will oversee a department of more than 40 people and a budget of roughly $6 million. His department is responsible for which includes long-range community planning, development review, zoning administration and enforcement, historic preservation, redevelopment coordination, housing programs and building construction codes.
“I’m confident Ricky will continue Rockville’s commitment to vibrant, family-friendly neighborhoods, balanced growth and a sustainable future,” said Rockville City Manager Rob DiSpirito in a statement announcing the hire. “He brings a wealth of vision and experience to the position. I’m excited to introduce him to his talented, professional team, and to the Rockville community.”