MPCA Wishes to Thank Treasurer, Doug Wright, for Nearly 35 Years of Service to the Hagerstown Planning Commission

MPCA Corner

By Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner

Fig. 1 – Photo: Doug Wright, courtesy of Doug Wright.

Doug Wright was born and raised in Hagerstown and has been a life-long resident of the western Maryland city. After graduating from North Hagerstown High School, he went on to earn a degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Beginning in 1988 he served on the City of Hagerstown’s Planning Commission and was chairperson since 1990. Recently, Doug moved outside Hagerstown and after 35 years of service, resigned from the planning commission.

Simply reciting the years of his service to Hagerstown and its surrounding communities, however, does not begin to reveal the breadth of his accomplishments.

Doug helped develop four comprehensive plans for the city, in 1988, 1997, 2008, and 2018, and lived to tell the tale. Similarly, he was involved in three comprehensive rezonings and reviewed annexations covering 2,083 acres, or 25 percent of the city’s present area.

He has also been involved with code revisions, including Hagerstown’s forest conservation ordinance, the rewrite of its subdivision ordinance, and the creation of a land management code, including annual updates.

Fig. 2 – Photograph of award presented by the Hagerstown Fire Department on March 28, 2023

Doug has overseen countless development reviews ranging from shopping and entertainment centers, business parks and office buildings, warehouses, industrial parks, hotels, and other commercial projects, residential developments, as well as schools, libraries, senior centers, theaters, parking decs, recreation centers, and parks.

During Doug’s tenure, approximately 25 percent of the city’s housing units were approved by the Hagerstown Planning Commission via site plans and subdivision plats.

About these accomplishments, Doug nonetheless remains humble, saying, “I guess if you hang around long enough, this is what happens.”

Still, he can’t help but reveal his pride a little bit when he talks about one of many accolades. “At the City Council meeting in March, I was surprised and honored to also be recognized by the fire department with a plaque recognizing my efforts to listen to, and support them, in seeing that developments are built so that they can be safely served by the department.”

Adding with his trademark humility, “Maybe I did make a small difference.”

Doug’s colleagues, on the other hand, praise him extensively for his performance. “Doug is probably the best chair of any citizen board we have had in the city,” states Kathy Maher, AICP, Director of the Hagerstown Town Planning and Code Administration.

Director Maher continues, “Planning Commission public hearings never got out of control with unruly citizen outbursts under Doug’s watch. Staff really appreciated Doug ensuring input remained civil and relevant to the issue before the commission. Doug also brought a fine eye for detail in the review of site plans and subdivision plats, often bringing up corrections the project engineer and city staff did not notice.

Fig. 3 – A map illustrating the City’s annexations under Doug Wright’s tenure was prepared in honor of his service to the Hagerstown Planning Commission.

Doug’s years on the County Economic Development Commission also ensured we maintained attention to the economic impact of proposed code revisions and comp plan updates. Our community’s pedestrians have Doug to thank for ensuring new development included sidewalks whenever possible along our public streets. Doug’s leadership on the planning commission will be sorely missed.”

In addition to his work on the planning commission, Doug has served as an MPCA board member for the past four years and is wrapping up a two-year stint as its treasurer, remaining only until a replacement can be found. We will miss his work ethic, professionalism, and cheerful demeanor, equally.

Please join us in celebrating Doug’s many achievements over his illustrious career and thanking him for his passion and commitment to citizen planning in Hagerstown and across Maryland. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors!

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