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Westminster was willing to wait months for its new town planner CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg


When Katrina L. Tucker saw the advertisement for a town planner for the City of Westminster in the Washington Post last spring, it sounded good.

It still sounded good last week, four days into her new job.

Miss Tucker said the job gives her a chance "to become involved in various aspects of local government."

Westminster's small-town atmosphere also was an attraction.

"Although my background is in urban studies, I am not a high-density urban-type person," she said.

When Westminster advertised for a planner in spring 1992, Miss Tucker was finishing a master's degree in public administration at the University of Virginia. She was working on a master's degree in planning at the same time, but planned to find a job and finish at night school.

No job materialized over the summer, so Miss Tucker decided to continue in school full time.

A job offer from Westminster arrived on her first day of classes, but city officials agreed to allow her to finish her degree, then start work.

Miss Tucker will fill some of the responsibilities that were handled by Thomas B. Beyard as city planning director.

When Mr. Beyard became director of planning and public works in May 1992, the combination of administrative and planning tasks became too much for one person.

Mr. Beyard said the new town planner will work on historic district zoning, tree and landscape-related planning, will be a liaison to county government forest conservation planners and review subdivision plans in cooperation with the city engineer and supervisor of development review. She will be paid $33,200 a year.

The council's personnel committee interviewed six finalists before selecting Miss Tucker.

"Her credentials were excellent and she seemed to be a people person, which I think is very important in a planner because it's about people's lives," said Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein, personnel committee chairwoman.

Ms. Orenstein said she was also impressed that Miss Tucker was earning two master's degrees.

Small towns are nothing new to Miss Tucker, 29, who grew up in the southern Anne Arundel County village of Birdsville.

She entered University of Maryland at College Park considering a career in medicine, but decided she liked her urban studies courses better than her science courses.

She graduated from UM in 1985 with a degree in urban studies and joined the planning staff of Prince William County, Va., where her work included, issuing permits, doing zoning inspections, keeping plans on schedule and later reviewing plans and providing zoning interpretations to the county zoning appeals board.

"She was very versatile and able to fill in wherever we needed her," said Sherman Patrick, chief of planning.

Miss Tucker took night courses in Northern Virginia for three years to work on her master's degree in planning.

She decided in the spring of 1991 to enroll full time at UVa and also earn a degree in public administration, a one-year program.

She laughs when asked about hobbies.

"I've been in school for years," she replied. When she has free time, she likes reading, hiking and camping.

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