OC Mayor Suggests Staggering Planning Comm. Terms

OCEAN CITY — The reworking of the resort’s planning commission makeup continued this week with a recommendation for staggering terms from the mayor.

During Tuesday’s work session, Mayor Rick Meehan put forth a recommendation to stagger the terms for the seven appointed members of the Planning Commission. The seven-member commission reviews site plans for project, makes recommendations on amendments to the town’s code and acts as the hearing body for the Mayor and Council among other things.

For several years, the makeup of the seven-member commission remained largely unchanged starting with commission chair Pam Buckley, who has served in her spot at the dais for decades. In recent months, however, there has been a decided shift on the commission. Buckley remains firmly in place in the chairperson’s chair, although she has hinted in recent meetings she may step down after about 30 years, but new faces have been added as others have stepped down.

To that end, Mayor Rick Meehan on Tuesday presented a plan to stagger the five-year terms for the appointed planning commissioners in order to avoid a significant turnover at one time. It’s a plan similar to the way the council seats are staggered for re-election.

“All of the members were appointed that were going to be reappointed,” he said. “My presentation is to stagger the terms on the planning commission, although they are all five-year terms. I would like to reappoint some of them to three-year terms, which will allow us to stagger the terms for the appointed members of the planning commission.”

Meehan said the makeup of the planning commission will remain consistent after one potential candidate scheduled for an interview during the closed session prior to Tuesday’s work session had to be postponed.

“We did have one individual we were going to discuss today, but he wasn’t available to interview with the Mayor and Council because of COVID,” he said. “That name has been removed from discussion, at least for today.”

As a result, Meehan’s proposal was for three of the planning commissioners to be appointed to three-year terms with the other four members serving five-year terms. Those appointed to three-year terms will be converted to five-year terms in 2025. As a result, Buckley, who was reappointed in February, will serve a five-year term, as will recent appointees Maryellen Rosenblit and Kevin Rohe. Existing planning commissioners Joel Brous and Palmer Gillis will be reappointed to three-year terms, while sitting commissioner Joe Wilson will be appointed to a five-year term.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.