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Baltimore Mayor Pugh names new Department of Planning director

Chris Ryer, shown in 2012, has been named the director of the Department of Planning.
Chris Ryer, shown in 2012, has been named the director of the Department of Planning. (Steve Ruark / For The Baltimore Sun)

Chris Ryer will become the next director of the Baltimore Department of Planning, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office announced Tuesday.

Ryer has become well known in planning circles in the last three decades, having served several stints in government. That includes 10 years in the city planning department as a community planner and four years as deputy director from 2002 to 2006.

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He also served in the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's neighborhood revitalization division.

In between, Ryer worked in the nonprofit sector, including at the Trust for Public Lands and as the executive director for the Southeast Community Development Corporation, a position he’s held for the past 12 years.

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At the planning department, where he will return Feb. 11, he will oversee a collection of planners and panels that help guide land use in the city. The department has a hand in approving specific developments and projects and planning for others. It also manages historical and architectural preservation and ensures a balance with environmental sustainability.

Ryer earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California and a master in community planning form the University of Maryland. He began in the city planning department as an intern.

Pugh said he brings “extensive and tested experience” to the department, as well as an intimate knowledge of the city and its neighborhoods.

He will take over for acting director Laurie Feinberg, who oversaw a years-long major overhaul of the city’s zoning law, called TransForm Baltimore, that was a replacement for a set of rules from 1971.

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