New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon has selected veteran land use planner Eileen Fogarty to head up the Department of Land Use, the core of County Government’s function.
Fogarty, founder and president of The Fogarty Group since July 2011, has accumulated 30 years of experience in urban land use planning, zoning and development review, transportation planning, and economic development. She most recently served as Director of Planning & Community Development for Santa Monica, Calif. from 2006 to 2011.
Prior to Santa Monica, Fogarty served as Director of Planning, Zoning and Development for Alexandria, Va. from 2000 to 2006 and Director of Community Development for Santa Cruz, Calif. from 1996 to 2000.
Gordon had been searching for a land use administrator who could take on the challenges facing New Castle County, where land use planning has been poor for nearly a decade. Fogarty’s resume rose to the top as Gordon and Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi examined the 25 applications they received.
“She's really uniquely qualified, Gordon said. “She’s the real deal. We can’t afford not to grab her. She's very qualified to deal with the unique issues we face.”
The fact that Fogarty was an outsider unconnected to anyone in Delaware was also important, Gordon said.
“I don't know anybody that knows her; that’s a good thing,” he said. “Land Use is the reason the County Government was formed and I think we have failed in the last number of years. There have been so many exceptions to the Unified Development Code. She has the ability to dig into the code and bring award winning concepts here.”
Gordon is scheduled to introduce Fogarty at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Executive Office of the New Castle County Government Center, 87 Reads Way, New Castle, DE 19720.Grimaldi said Fogarty was hired for her professionalism, knowledge and experience.
“The most important component of county government is hiring talented people,” he said. “She has worked at a few different municipalities where the challenges were the same. “There was public mistrust and the need to bring people back. She's very familiar with the climate we're in now.”
Fogarty, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, received a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Arts from Rutgers University. She has lectured at University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; the American Planning Association and other institutions.
Fogarty said she had been in planning her whole career on both the East and West coasts.
“I’ve been in communities that have really needed investment,” she said. “When I went out to Santa Cruz, California, the city had fallen down from the earthquake. So, that was an issue of rebuilding and getting investment into an entire city.
“I’ve been in Alexandria and Santa Monica, where the issues were citizen distrust of the process and a lot of growth pressures. Also, a lot of the community was left out of all of the process and left out of the prosperity. I’ve had tremendous success in turning agencies around and bringing enthusiasm and motivation to the agencies. And you work with the community so that the community feels like the department is representing them.”
Fogarty still has to be confirmed by New Castle County Council. But the County Executive introduced Fogarty to three Council members – Councilwoman Elisa Diller, Councilman Jea Street and Councilman Bob Weiner – and all three of them were very impressed with the top candidate.