Planner Callum Murray Retires After 26 Years of Service

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PHOTO | Callum Murray

Callum Murray, an award-winning planner with Montgomery County, retired on Dec. 31.

Over his 26 years of service, Murray worked as the Master Planner/Supervisor for an area of 375 square miles in Montgomery County, including Potomac and the 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve.

Among his accomplishments are a significant number of complex master planning and regulatory planning projects. These Master and Sector Plans were often controversial and county officials said required Murray’s creative leadership to complete.

Most notably, Murray served as project planner for:
-North Bethesda/Garrett Park Master Plan including the Grosvenor, White Flint, Twinbrook, Rock Spring Park, Garrett Park and surrounding residential areas;
-Friendship Heights Sector Plan;
-Potomac Subregion Master Plan.

Murray is described as a tireless advocate for the Agricultural Reserve. He worked collaboratively with farmers to minimize fragmentation of farmland by persuading them to take advantage of easement programs. When they would not be persuaded, officials said he worked to preclude residential lots from prime agricultural soils and to reduce lot sizes to the minimum possible for well and septic systems.

In addition, Murray was an experienced planner who worked in a collaborative manner to implement master plan goals in the review of regulatory cases. Examples of these regulatory cases include:

-Wisconsin Place in Friendship Heights;
-White Flint Crossing in White Flint;
-LCOR at the White Flint Metro Station;
-Nuclear Regulatory Commission in White Flint;
-Montrose Crossing in White Flint;
-Strathmore Concert Hall in Grosvenor;
-Fortune Park in Potomac;
-Quarry Springs on the former Stoneyhurst Quarry;
-Barnesville Oaks Cluster in the Agricultural Reserve;
-Transportation projects, including Montrose Parkway, Nebel Street, Chapman Avenue, Interstate-270 Interchange at Fernwood Road and Bethesda Trolley Trail/Bikeway across I-270.

For his work on these projects and others, Murray received national and international accolades from the American Planning Association and World Bank. In addition, he earned respect for implementing Montgomery County’s “wedges and corridors plan” by preserving agricultural and rural open space, and working to acquire hundreds of acres of conservation parkland in watersheds draining to the Potomac River. He received local recognition from the American Planning Association for establishing quality development at transit stations, including Friendship Heights in Montgomery County.

At a recent community meeting, the residents of Potomac summarized his accomplishments by stating the following: “A retiring hero – whatever one likes about Potomac, Callum Murray had something to do with keeping it that way.”

Born in Glasgow and raised on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, Murray graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. He also holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan, and is a Registered Landscape Architect, licensed in Maryland. Murray earned membership in the Royal Town Planning Institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Prior to joining the Montgomery County Planning Department, he was the Chief Planner and Landscape Architect for the City of Farmington Hills, Michigan. He also worked as a planner in Scotland for 15 years before coming to the United States, two of his notable projects being the restoration of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the World Heritage Village of New Lanark.

Murray has always been known for his keen sense of humor. As one colleague recently said, “Callum is unable to string two sentences together without a funny anecdote.”

Planners say Murray will be missed.

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