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Towson Chamber of Commerce director Nancy Hafford tapped to lead Baltimore County Planning Board

Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce
Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce (File Photo Jed Kirschbaum, Balti / Baltimore Sun)

Nancy Hafford, who has served as executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce for 15 years, has been nominated to chair Baltimore County’s Planning Board.

The Planning Board advises the County Council on zoning and planning matters, including the county’s quadrennial Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, the county’s Master Plan and other special plans, amendments to zoning regulations, the Capital Improvement Program, the Master Water Supply and Sewerage Plan, Basic Services Maps, and developments that conflict with the master plan or involve historic landmarks.

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Known to some as the de facto mayor of Towson, Hafford was nominated to the volunteer position by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. The County Council is expected to confirm her to the chairmanship at their Dec. 21 meeting.

Scott Holupka, a current member of the Planning Board, has been nominated as the vice chair.

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Hafford was appointed to the Planning Board in 2011 by the late former County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

County Council members during a work session Tuesday lauded Hafford’s expertise and her advocacy for small business owners in the county seat.

Because of Hafford’s work with the Chamber, “it is amazing the changes we have seen in Towson,” County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said.

“It is an absolute success story for Baltimore County and private business,” he added.

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Hafford will bring to the Planning Board an aptitude for bringing together stakeholders, a familiarity with revitalization programs and grants and a history of supporting redevelopment efforts, Marks said.

“You’ve been a good friend, you’re going to do a great job in this position,” he told Hafford.

Before she was hired to manage the business group, Hafford spent five years as a district manager for the fitness company, Gold’s Gym International Inc., overseeing some 250 employees and volunteering at chamber events.

In more typical times, Hafford directs more than 500 volunteers to run festivals and ongoing events, such as “Feet on the Street” on summertime Friday nights, the Towson Fourth of July parade, December’s Winterfest, a weekly farm market in season, the Taste of Towson restaurant sampler and Towsontown Fest, a two-day event that attracts around 250,000 people each year.

Hafford in 2016 was also named “Woman of the Year” by Baltimore County in a program of the county Commission for Women that salutes those who make “significant, unique and lasting contributions” in their communities.

The committee that selected Hafford wrote at the time that she “has become a unifying force in Baltimore County through her leadership, compassion, and understanding of what needs to be done to help our county thrive.”

County Council Chair Cathy Bevins said that Hafford’s connections to business owners and understanding “what it takes for people to run their business” will make her a good fit for the role on the Planning Board.

County Councilman Julian Jones called Hafford “a tremendous advocate for Baltimore County.”

“I can’t think of a better person to run a Planning Board as a chair than yourself,” he said.

Hafford said her time on the Planning Board under the mentorship of current chairman Scott Phillips and former chairman Edward Gilliss was wonderful and “taught me a lot.”

“Baltimore County is a great place to be and I feel so fortunate to be here,” she added.

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