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UPDATE | Langley police chief, head of planning department, announce departure plans

Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg announced his retirement plans on Monday. His last day is March 2.  - Brian Kelly / Record file
Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg announced his retirement plans on Monday. His last day is March 2.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Record file

LANGLEY — Two top officials have announced their impending departures from Langley City Hall.

Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg submitted a letter announcing his retirement to the mayor on Monday. And on Wednesday, Larry Cort, Langley’s planning chief, tendered a letter of resignation to the city.

Herzberg said his retirement will be effective on March 2.

Langley’s top cop has been working for the city for 32 years. His future with the city has been unclear in recent weeks, however. At a city council meeting earlier this month, City Councilman Robert Gilman floated the suggestion that Herzberg could retire early as the city works to solve its budget problems.

Herzberg decided to do just that. He said he has been thinking since last summer about the best date to retire, and had earlier thought of retiring this coming May.

“I’m really looking forward to freedom,” Herzberg said, a future without the demands of a fixed schedule. “I’m still not completely focused on what happens next, but I’m pretty excited about it.”

“It’s been an honor,” Herzberg said. “It’s been just an incredible, wonderful experience to be part of this community, and to be here and watch South Whidbey grow. I’m just going to miss people, across the board. Even people I’ve had to meet business-wise.”

Cort, the city’s community development director, announced his resignation at Wednesday’s Planning Advisory Board meeting.

Cort’s last day with the city will be Jan. 14.

He said he was leaving Langley with mixed emotions.

“There are a lot of terrific people here. And I have a great bunch of colleagues I’ve really enjoyed working with,” Cort said.

A longtime resident of Whidbey, Cort grew up on the island and previously worked for the city of Oak Harbor from 2003 to 2006, and was a planner in Coupeville for nearly eight years, from 1996 to 2003.

Cort has taken a job as a project specialist and will be working in the city of Oak Harbor’s public works department.

It’s not the first time that Langley will lose the popular planner, however. Cort became city planner in Langley in December 2006, but resigned in September 2007 to take a position as a senior planner in Maple Valley. He returned to Langley in January 2008 as community planning director under Mayor Paul Samuelson.

During his time in Langley, Cort helped start the city’s historic preservation program, guided efforts to revamp the city’s comprehensive plan and proposed rules guiding development near the city marina.

In the coming year, he was expected to lead the update of the city’s Shoreline Master Program and manage the start of renovations to Second Street.

He was also expected to take a pay cut. Earlier this week, the city council approved a reduction in his salary, starting on March 1. Cort earned a salary of $77,067 in 2010.

He said his departure was not influenced by recent events in Langley, such as the controversy over the Langley Passage development, the work on new subdivision and development regulations, or the council’s vote to reduce his pay.

Cort said he applied for the Oak Harbor job in November.

“It probably does look funny to people about the timing, but from my perspective, I believe it’s the right job at the right time,” he said.

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