Vienna officials announced March 31 that they had hired a city planner from Rockville, Maryland, to serve as director of the city’s planning and zoning department.
City officials chose David Levy after conducting a nationwide search and receiving nominations from candidates in 10 states. Levy will take up his new role on May 9 with a salary of $161,000.
Levy has extensive experience in both government and the private sector, city officials said. He has spent the past 16 years working for the City of Rockville, Maryland, first as Chief of Long Range Planning and then as Deputy Director of Planning and Business Improvement.
“David Levy’s experience in successfully updating the Rockville Comprehensive Plan and updating the Rockville Pike Corridor through a collaborative community process closely mirrors the approach Vienna has planned for updates similar,” City Manager Mercury Payton said in a statement announcing Levy’s hiring.
“I’m confident David will very ably lead Vienna through the next phases of our planning and zoning initiatives, not the least of which is our first major zoning code update in 60 years,” he said. he declares.
This initiative, dubbed Code Create, is halfway through its process.
Levy said he will work with the community to ensure their wishes are met. Another key element will be coordination with other city departments, including police, public works, parks and recreation, public information and economic development, he said.
“Planning work is interdisciplinary in nature,” Levy said. “When all of these people are on board and you’re working with the team, you not only have a plan, but a chance to implement it. You need departments with the power to implement. »
Payton said he was confident Levy would help build consensus between the city council and the people of Vienna on the initiative.
“One of the qualities that stood out [in the interview process] was his ability to understand communities, elected officials and leadership teams and to be able to pivot and adapt, depending on the needs of the environment,” Payton said. “With his education and work in Rockville, he has a wonderful combination of traits that will make him a good fit for Vienna.”
The city manager was also impressed with Levy’s long tenure in Rockville.
“Serving in a community for 16 years is a unique trait that demonstrates his ability to meet multiple challenges,” Payton said. “It demonstrates stability and a desire to understand the heartbeat of where it serves.”
Levy was born and raised in Baltimore and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986 and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School in 1992.
Levy also obtained a certificate of proficiency in Spanish from the Galápagos language school in 1992, then spent nearly two years as a special assistant to the mayor of the city of Quito, Ecuador.
Levy then served as the Brownfields Project Coordinator for the Baltimore City Planning Department from 1995 to 1998, then spent two years as a senior partner at PA Consulting Group in Arlington.
He then completed a three-year stint as a project manager at ICF International, a global technology consulting and services company located just south of the Vienna Metro station. While there, Levy provided technical assistance and analysis to local, state and federal agencies regarding community and economic development, sustainable development and public management, Vienna officials said.
Prior to his current position in Rockville, Levy was Assistant Commissioner of Land Resources for the City of Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development, where he worked on initiatives to redevelop or rehabilitate sections of the city, including Vienna officials said.
Levy is currently vice president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association and a member of the Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association, and the American Institute of Certified Planners. He also spent two years chairing the Technical Advisory Committee to the Director of Planning for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Vienna’s Planning and Zoning Department has seen some turnover at the top since Greg Hembree, who had led the department for 27 years, committed suicide in September 2014. Patrick Mulhern served as department director from April 2015 until his retirement in January 2018 and was succeeded by Cindy Petkac, who left in December 2021. Michael D’Orazio, the deputy director of the department, has served as interim director since Petkac’s departure.
Levy lives in Rockville with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, traveling and playing the guitar (more acoustic than electric, out of consideration for his family).
Levy said he took the Vienna job in part because he wanted to try his hand at being a department head. He became familiar with Vienna while working at the ICF and said he was struck by the city’s cohesive neighborhoods, parks and strong environmental ethos, as evidenced by its efforts to preserve trees.
“Vienna is a beautiful place,” he said.