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Former Del. Steve Lafferty moves from Baltimore County’s chief sustainability officer to planning director

Former state delegate Steve Lafferty is leaving his post as Baltimore County’s first chief sustainability officer to direct the county’s planning department.

The County Council confirmed Lafferty’s appointment Tuesday evening.

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Elected to state office in 2007, Lafferty served on the House Environment and Transportation Committee in Annapolis before he was selected by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. in 2019 to lead county sustainability initiatives.

He also chaired the Subcommittee on Land Use and Ethics and the Subcommittee on the Environment.

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Before holding elected office, the Democrat worked for Howard County government as deputy director of planning and zoning from 2003 to 2015. In March he joined the board of directors for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

As sustainability officer, Lafferty, a Towson resident, was tasked with pursuing green energy development and combating the effects of climate change.

Steve Lafferty's appointment to direct Baltimore County’s planning department was approved Tuesday evening.
Steve Lafferty's appointment to direct Baltimore County’s planning department was approved Tuesday evening. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun Media)

Under his leadership, the county began its first major renewable energy venture capturing methane produced by decomposing trash in the Eastern Sanitary Landfill in White Marsh to convert to electricity, providing 24% of power for the White Marsh landfill itself.

Lafferty will earn $180,000 as planning director, according to a county spokesman. He earned $107,100 as sustainability officer. His first day is Jan. 15.

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In a statement, Lafferty said he is committed to building on the progress he made as sustainability officer “expanding renewable energy and combating climate change ... to ensure we can thoughtfully plan for the future of our communities while embracing every effort to promote sustainability as a key component of our plans, practices, and policies — including the 2030 Master Plan which will be developed this year.”

The 2030 Master Plan serves as a roadmap for county’s planning efforts over the next decade.

The county will search for a replacement to fill the vacated sustainability position and “efforts to combat climate change remain a key priority of the administration,” said Sean Naron, county spokesman, in a text message.

Lafferty is taking the helm of the planning department as former director Pete Gutwald moves to direct the county’s Department of Permits Approvals and Inspections.

“Pete and Steve have been vital members of our team and I look forward to continuing our work together to spur innovation and modernize these core functions of government,” Olszewski said in a statement.

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