Planning director Cueman to retire

March 26, 1995|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman, who led Carroll County's planning efforts through a quarter-century growth spurt, will retire as county planning director July 1.

Mr. Cueman, 55, announced his retirement Friday as head of the county planning department, the local agency responsible for keeping development orderly, shepherding it into designated areas and preserving agricultural and environmentally sensitive areas.

The job pays $69,200 annually.

When Mr. Cueman arrived in 1971, Carroll had 69,000 residents and was untouched by suburban sprawl. Westminster had 7,200 residents, Route 140 was lightly traveled, and Cranberry Mall was a cornfield.

The population has doubled, Route 140 has become congested, schools are crowded, and residents voted in 1994 for several candidates who advocated controlling the pace of growth.

In 1971, when the commissioners moved planning director George A. Grier into a new job as administrative assistant, they recruited Mr. Cueman, who had worked with Mr. Grier as a Western Maryland College (WMC) student intern in the early 1960s.

After he graduated in 1962, Mr. Cueman joined the Worcester County planning staff, where he became director in 1965. He said he had enjoyed working with Mr. Grier on the development of what became Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, so he accepted the Carroll job. "And here we are, 24 years later," he said.

The planning director's seat can be a hot one. When a citizens' group north of Westminster formed in 1994 to fight the proposed Westminster bypass, a sign that said "Impeach Ned Cueman" appeared in the woods along Route 27.

Mr. Cueman is temperamentally suited to the job, said former commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "He's extremely good-natured, which is good because he was the butt of all the jokes about his long-windedness," Mr. Lippy said.

Mr. Cueman, a Rush Limbaugh fan, is as loquacious as the talk show host.

"The thing I always dreaded most was when he said, 'I'll be brief,' " Mr. Lippy recalled.

The county planning director has an eye for identifying potential school sites, the former commissioner said. He worked with Mr. Cueman to acquire the Black property north of Manchester for a future school.

"Oh, what a loss to the county," said former planning commission Chairman Louis V. Pecoraro when he learned of Mr. Cueman's planned retirement. "The man has more expertise about the county and planning and zoning than anyone I've ever met."

In 10 years on the county planning commission, Mr. Pecoraro said he came to value Mr. Cueman's ability to present the pros and cons of a planning issue and his rationale for planning actions.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates, who now sits on the planning commission, expressed regret at Mr. Cueman's decision.

"I guess Ned felt he wanted to go to pasture, so he's going," said Mr. Yates, who added that he hopes Mr. Cueman will do consulting work for the county.

Mr. Yates said the fact that Mr. Cueman is the third county department head to announce his resignation since Jan. 1 doesn't suggest problems.

"I think they know what kind of situation we're in financially. Those who elected to leave went for greener pastures," he said.

Mr. Cueman said he doesn't have another job in mind, "but I don't plan on climbing into a rocking chair." He said he will take a breather, then look for options.

A native of Morris County, N.J., Mr. Cueman came to WMC to study sociology. He met his wife, Elizabeth, a former Carroll County public library staff member and now full-time homemaker, in college.

The couple have two daughters, Caroline, an employee of Alexander & Alexander Inc., a Baltimore insurance company, and Jennifer, an employee of the Scandinavian Airlines System.

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