OCEAN CITY — It was no secret that Jeff Thaler would be stepping down from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) last Thursday, but seemingly no one expected the board’s chairperson to follow suit.
After Thursday’s BZA meeting, Thaler read a short statement thanking his fellow board members and a who’s who list of city servants, politicians and family members. His resignation after 19 years of service to the town was no surprise as a city council member had allegedly leaked news of his looming announcement several weeks ago.
The real surprise came later as chairperson Susan Davis announced that she too, would be resigning.
“I don’t mean to steal your thunder Jeff, but I too will be stepping down from the Board of Zoning Appeals,” she said, fighting back a few tears.
In an email this week, Davis explained the reasoning behind her resignation after 12 years.
“With honor, I represented my town of Ocean City, but the dynamics of the city have changed, and it was the right time for me to step down,” she said. “I leave with tremendous respect and gratitude to Mayor Mathias, Mayor Meehan, Jeff Thaler, Jack Eschenburg, Blaine Smith, Maggie Fussel and Kay Stroud and Hank Westfall.”
Davis was appointed by Mathias and was named to the board after the passing of former BZA member, Kate Bunting, Davis’ mother.
The BZA is made up of five members and two alternates, but the resignation of both Davis and Thaler leaves two vacant seats in the alternate positions, as alternates Dean Langrall, and Lanny Hickman will be moved up and assume the duties of the departing members, according to Mayor Rick Meehan.
“I have a few names that I’m going to bring to the City Council in the next few weeks to start with the interview process for the open alternate positions on the BZA,” said Meehan, “Susan [Davis] and Jeff [Thaler] served their community well, and we are thankful for their service.”
As per the town code, BZA members are chosen by the mayor and appointed after going through an interview process with the council.
Meehan said the silver lining in all of this is that new training sessions that are on the horizon for all city board members will be beneficial to any new appointees.
“You need to have someone that is familiar with the tough subjects that the BZA deals with, like exceptions and variances,” said Meehan. “With these training sessions coming up, this may have been the right time to get the new members up to speed.”