The function of the Department of Planning Administration is to advise the Mayor, City Council, Planning Board, and the Zoning Board on planning issues affecting the physical development of the City. The Division prepares, maintains, and updates the City's Master Plan, and recommends changes to the City's Zoning Ordinance. The Master Plan is based on three principals - sustainable development & redevelopment; managed growth; and, a healthy community.
Born and raised in Orange, New Jersey, Marty Mayes, the City's Director of Planning & Development and the Department of Public Works; grew up on Hillyer Street. An outstanding football player during his tenure at Orange High School, he averaged 20 tackles per game and held a reputation for never leaving the field. An All-Conference, All-County and All-State Selection, Mayes received a full athletic scholarship to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey upon graduation from High School.
A well-rounded athlete and student, Mayes received an academic All-American award from Rutgers University. During Mayes's final year in college, he earned the privilege to work in the City of Orange as a Planning Intern. During his internship he assisted the Department that he currently heads up as Director with the designing and implementing a municipal recycling program.
Upon graduation, Mayes was selected to participate in the distinguished New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Housing Fellows Program. As a Housing Fellow, Mayes rotated throughout various Divisions within the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency for a three-year period. "This program was designed to expose post-graduate students to both of the state's leading housing agencies and other community-based organizations to gain first hand knowledge on housing development," said Mayes. During his last year, Mayes was selected to work as a Program Manager within DCA's Balance Housing Department.
During his tenure as Program Manager with DCA, Mayes had the opportunity to manage projects within the City of Orange because his colleagues did not like traveling from Trenton to Orange. For Mayes, it was a dream job to work to improve the City where he was born and raised. Mayes was asked to head the Department of Planning & Development and the Urban Enterprise Zone program under Mayor Mims Hackett. After Mayes left Orange in 2008, he worked as the Director of Community Development in Reading, Pennsylvania and later as Director of Neighborhood Services in Irvington, New Jersey overseeing sixty employees.
Laquana Best received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and her Certificate of Specialization in Spanish from Temple University in 2003. She later received her Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Nathan Weiss Graduate School of Kean University. As a municipal professional, Ms. Best received her certificate in Real Estate Project Feasibility from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority's Redevelopment Training Institute.
Ms. Best began her professional career with the Township of Hillside in the Department of Welfare and the Office of the City Clerk. After graduating from college, she secured a position as the Confidential Aide to the Mayor. As Confidential Aide, Ms. Best managed the Township's Urban Enterprise Zone program where she worked on issues relating to Community Development and Economic Empowerment.
In 2007, Ms. Best joined Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey as an Account Consultant. In this position, she focused on providing detailed customer service and account management to small business clients. Ms. Best was later promoted to the position of Vendor Services Analyst (VSA) in the Department of Delegate & Vendor Oversight. As a VSA, she was responsible for analyzing and maintaining security access within Horizon BCBSNJ for small business and fortune five hundred corporate healthcare conglomerates such as, Magellan and Care Core, Inc. She also provided oversight to vendors, monitored performance goals and drafted corrective action plans to ensure the achievement of corporate goals.
In 2012, Ms. Best returned to the public sector when she was appointed to the position of Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development in the City of Orange Township. As Deputy Director she oversees the Township's development projects and serves as apart of the Mayor's team of advisors on community and economic development issues. Ms. Best serves as the Mayor's representative to the Orange Chamber of Commerce and the Essex County Community Development Block Grant Committee.
Ms. Best is a member of the Hopewell Baptist Church where she serves as an advisor to its community development organization. She is a member of Kean University's Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she serves on the political action committee. Ms. Best also holds her New Jersey Health & Life Insurance State License.
Mr. Mayes has worked with Mayor Warren and the City Council to attract more businesses to Orange, eliminate unnecessary or duplicative expenditures, and increase revenue. The Department of Planning & Economic Development has:
- Received the Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP) Grant in the amount of $248,400 to establish safe pedestrian and bicycle linkages across I-280 and Freeway Drives and along Main Street
- Received $90,000 of a $5 million grant from the North Jersey Sustainable Communities Consortium to investigate rail stations and improve connectivity between pedestrians, mass transit services, and shopping centers
- Worked with developers interested in expanding Orange's Transit Village area to create a vibrant, safe environment for Orange residents
- Finalized plans with L&M Group for the South Essex Avenue Urban Renewal Project which will include 64 market and moderate-income residential units, eight unrestricted, and over 10,000 square feet of retail space
- Collaborated with Rutgers University to offer an internship to students interested in public policy and planning