Matt Farmer doesn’t like talking about himself. But this reluctant spotlight subject has plenty of experience and accomplishments to boast about. The Berkley Group’s newest employee started as Essex County’s Planning Director after over 14 years working for Henrico County. During his tenure with Henrico, Matt worked as a Planning Technician, in zoning enforcement, and as a Neighborhood Planner. He’s been a supervisor, front-line staff, and worked in current and long-range planning. And he’s done all this while working on his degrees (he’ll finish up his thesis and Master’s in Community and Economic Development in November). This breadth and depth of knowledge will serve him well as he heads up Essex’s planning department.
Essex is a very different place than Henrico. The rural, waterfront county of just over 11,000 people has a much different feel from Henrico – the county of nearly 330,000 located in the Richmond Metro area. But, Matt jokes, you get the same complaints no matter what planning department you’re working in! That said, he loves the small-town vibe in Essex. People have been friendly and welcoming, plus he feels as if he’ll get to know his commission and board members better – a benefit of working in a place where the pace of life is slower, demands on time are less, and people take time to get to know each other.
The small-town feel isn’t the only thing that Matt finds appealing about Essex. He loves working in a waterfront community. Professionally, he is looking forward to expanding his knowledge by learning new environmental regulations. Personally, he is looking forward to being able to spend more time on his boat. Matt keeps his boat in the area and spends several nights a week on his boat when he isn’t commuting home to Midlothian. It’s a long commute, but with two teenage daughters in High School, he isn’t ready to move his family, just yet. Until then, maybe he can entice them down for weekends on “The Rivah.”