Maryland APA

The Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association

Welcome to the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association's Website. Our mission is to make great communities happen in Maryland by offering continuing professional development and other valuable services to our members that will enable them to excel in their practice. We advocate for excellence in planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing our members with the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change. We hold a bi-annual conference, produce a quarterly newsletter, offer continuous opportunities to network, and experience new and varied educational opportunities across the state.

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Welcome To Our New APA Board Members!

On November 16, 2018, APA Maryland’s Executive Committee voted to appoint two new members to vacant Board positions. Angie Hernandez has been appointed to the position of Statewide Representative, and Alan Feinberg has returned to APA leadership to be appointed to the APA Maryland’s Western Maryland Representative. These new members will serve out the remainder of each position’s term, which both end on December 31, 2019. More information on our new Board members is below.

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Angie Hernandez (AICP) has worked for both public and private planning agencies across the country. She is currently employed by JMT where she works as a planner focused on multi-modal transportation planning projects and master planning efforts across the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Angie formerly served as the Vice Chair of the Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) Baltimore Chapter. She currently volunteers on both the Activities Committee and 2019 Conference Committee for the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association. Angie serves on multiple committees at JMT including: The Annual Charitable Campaign Sub-Committee and an ESOP Ambassador.

Angie is passionate about creating thriving, healthy, livable, multi-modal communities and places where people want to be. She is experienced in master planning, technical writing, grant writing, roadway design, GIS analytics and mapping, research techniques, facilitating public workshops, and consensus building efforts.

Outside of work Angie enjoys spending time with family, traveling, hiking, cooking, and sewing. She has two sons, Cayden, her oldest is 6 years old and Niko, her youngest is 9 months old. In her free time Angie volunteers as a Board Member on her son’s Parent Teach Association (PTA), and as a Café’ Host at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium on the weekends.

 
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Mr. Feinberg is a Charter Member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a registered architect (RA). He has had many years of varied professional planning, design, and project management experience in the public, private and quasi-public sectors. During those years Mr. Feinberg has been an active participant in his community’s activities. In the last dozen years he founded and promoted and helped sustain East Frederick Rising -- downtown's urban extension. In the last four years he created a community Meetup focused on a diversity of urban issues affecting everyone. Alan previously had served Maryland APA Chapter as its Western Representative and Vice President.

Saying “No” Can Be Good Customer Service

Olivia Vidotto
Planner III
Planning & Zoning
Southern Regional Representative
Prince Frederick, MD

We hear the phrase “good customer service” in the private sector, government, business ads, articles and many other places.  Especially after the recession, everyone had to put more effort into keeping a client or work harder to gain a new client. The approach and results had to change. If you are providing the same product or service as others, what can set you apart?

In the development community, we saw changes with construction firms, engineering companies, architects, contractors and even with the government agencies that issued plan approvals, permits and inspections for development.  As businesses condensed jobs and let people go and government agencies laid off or furloughed employees, everyone was reinventing how they did business, revamping processes and evaluating timeframes for reviews and approvals. Providing good customer service became the mantra.

So how far do you go to keep a client/customer happy?  Telling someone what he or she wants to hear is not providing good customer service. Of course, we want to keep their business or help them with their project and permits, but do not make promises that you cannot keep.  Do not say yes to a question when the answer should be no.  For example, if you are asked if a plan can be completed in two weeks, do not say yes if you know that it will really take three weeks.  You sacrifice your own integrity and ultimately how a company or department is perceived overall. What have you gained? In addition, where is the consistency and fairness for your other clients/customers? When two weeks have gone by and they are still waiting, they will be upset and their opinion of you clouded because you did not keep your word. Then when you come back and say the “no” you should have said originally, and try to explain why, the person is past the point of understanding.

You can say “no” from the start but in a positive way. Outline why the answer is no and what steps you will take to help your client/customer. Building trust and being honest will keep them happier longer versus telling them what they want to hear to be happy in the moment.  So remember, sometimes, saying “No” really is the best customer service.