Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Amy Gowan as the new Director of the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ).  As Director, Gowan will oversee more than 60 employees in areas of resource conservation, land development and zoning, long range community planning, development engineering, and demographic and data management. Under her leadership, Howard County will enhance the public access to the project review process, implement the Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan, and continue to engage citizens through the award winning PlanHoward Academy training sessions.

“Responsible community planning and development is one of the top concerns in Howard County,” said Ball. “I am proud to announce that Amy Gowan has accepted the role of Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning. Through Amy’s leadership and experience, we will ensure that Howard County moves forward with sustainable land development, thoughtful community planning and necessary supporting infrastructure to provide a better quality of life for all residents.”

“I am pleased that Acting Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning, Amy Gowan, has been selected to head the Department,” said Council Chair Deb Jung. “She has proved to everyone that her knowledge of Howard County planning and zoning is deep and wide ranging.  She is the consummate professional, always willing to assist and provide information in an evenhanded manner.  Her responsiveness is much appreciated, and I am grateful that she has accepted this position.  We look forward to her leadership.”

DPZ helps shape the growth and future of Howard County by facilitating the development of safe, healthy, equitable, connected, and sustainable communities, concurrently respecting individual rights and protecting the County’s natural environment, its historical integrity, and character. This includes a responsibility for community planning, conservation and preservation, and land development. In 2019, DPZ was integral in restarting the Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan, commencing an update to the County’s General Plan, and continuing progress on completing a Route 1 Corridor Master Plan.

“Her Department will lead master planning efforts for Route 1 and historic Ellicott City, that could be tremendously transformative—in a good way. Including DPZ under her leadership, highest levels of County government finally have evidenced a willingness to abide by, enforce and even enhance State and local laws protecting our forests and green space,” shared Vice Chair Liz Walsh. “Director Gowan has my fullest support in taking a public-minded, long view to land-use planning for this County, marked by transparency, thoughtfulness and her ever-consummate professionalism.”

“I am ecstatic for Amy Gowan in her new role as the Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning; her institutional knowledge is invaluable,” said District 2 Council Member Opel Jones. “Ms. Gowan’s exemplary leadership, dedication, and commitment to our county’s residents are greatly appreciated. I look forward to working with Ms. Gowan and her department in the new year!”

“It is an exciting time for Planning and Zoning,” said Gowan. “We are embarking on a General Plan that will set the vision, policy and goals for the County’s growth over the next 20 years. I look forward to continuing this work in conjunction with our talented team of professional staff and aspire to build on our collective successes so that Howard County continues to thrive into the future.”

Bio of Amy Gowan

Amy Gowan has more than 12 years of experience in urban planning, land use, and community development. Gowan has served as the Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning since 2015, before recently stepping in as Acting-Director. As Deputy Director, she oversaw department operations and managed several initiatives, including a multi-phased process to evaluate the county’s zoning and land development regulations with a goal of creating a unified developmental code. She also provided direction and support on Columbia village center redevelopment projects, long–range community planning, historical and agricultural preservation programs, and all zoning issues affecting the County.

Prior to moving to and working for Howard County, Amy worked for the City of San Diego, where she held numerous policy and land use related positions. She served as an advisor to the Mayor on various land use projects, most notably as a project manager for a multi-million dollar public/private partnership to construct a brand new, iconic downtown library for San Diego. She also managed the City’s economic development and community revitalization functions and spent several years working on affordable housing and homeless issues.

In addition to her robust work experience, Gowan has a Master of Public Administration, with a specialization in city planning, from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Scranton. Gowan moved to Howard County in 2015 and resides in Columbia with her husband and two children.

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Scott E