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Howard County planning and zoning director out, acting head named while search for permanent chief begins

The Howard County government is seeking a new director for the Department of Planning and Zoning after its previous chief, Valdis Lazdins, left the department.

Amy Gowan, who was the deputy director of the department, was named acting director Oct. 18.

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According to his LinkedIn profile, Lazdins started a new position as assistant secretary with the Maryland Department of Planning in November. He declined to comment for this story.

“All directors are political appointees and work ‘at will’ for the county executive,” said Scott Peterson, a spokesman for County Executive Calvin Ball.

When asked why Lazdins was no longer with the department, Peterson said Ball “decided to go in a different direction in terms of leadership.”

Gowan has agreed to serve as acting director until Ball selects a permanent director, according to Peterson.

Lazdins, who started as planning director in late June 2015, took the reins from Marsha McLaughlin, who stepped down after 13 years at the helm of the department.

No specific timeline was announced as to when a permanent director would be chosen.

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