Tuesday, Aug. 1, Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) announced that Planning Commissioner Lawrence Beerman (Dulles) turned in his resignation affective July 31, a move that took Snow by surprise.
In his resignation letter, Beerman wrote that he had been "considering this for quite some time as events at work and other opportunities make it difficult for me to continue my service."
This term was Beerman's first as a commissioner and he served as the commission's chairman from 2004 to 2005. Previously, Beerman was a member of the Board of Supervisors for the Dulles district and was appointed to the Planning Commission after challenging Scott K. York (I-at large) for the board's chairmanship in 2003.
Beerman is the second commissioner to resign this year. In June, Catoctin commissioner John Herbert resigned and moved to Tennessee with his wife. He was replaced by Nancy Doane in the beginning of July.
SNOW SAID BEERMAN had mentioned some months ago that he was feeling some "burnout," but he did not expect the resignation.
"This is not a welcomed surprise, but I can fully understand his reasoning," Snow said. "We've been working on some big things, which can be draining."
For the past few months, the Planning Commission has been working on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments (CPAM) for the Dulles South area, placing Snow and Beerman at the center of much of the debate. On July 24, the Planning Commission voted to send the Rural Policy Area Comprehensive Plan Amendment to a work session, forcing the board to wait through the August recess to make a final decision.
Snow does not believe that Beerman's absence in September will affect the plan amendments even though any new commissioner would most likely abstain from voting because he or she had not been involved in the ongoing process.
"The intent of the board was to have the Planning Commission turn [the amendments] around within the 90 day [timeline]," Snow said. "It was always a matter of timing and there should be no modifications needed."
Snow added that since the Planning Commission's recommendations to the board on the CPAMs had been overwhelming majorities, he did not think one abstention would sway the vote.
SNOW ALREADY HAS a candidate in mind for Beerman's replacement. He will nominate South Riding resident Barbara Munsey at the board's Sept. 5 business meeting. All new commissioners must be approved by a majority vote.
"I am hoping the other supervisors will support this nomination," Snow said.
Munsey became Snow's choice for commissioner because of her dedication to the issues in Dulles South. She was a member of the Route 50 task force that made recommendations to the commission about the Route 50/Arcola plan amendment, attended many board meetings and spoken at many public hearings.
"I sat and thought, who better knows Dulles South and has been an ardent supporter of the area," Snow said. "She is a local citizen activist with intimate knowledge of the issues in the community."
Snow said he thinks Munsey will bring a much needed aspect to the commission.
"She will bring the common citizen's perspective which will be a really fresh one," he said, "I think it will be a positive thing."
He added that he believed Munsey would "hit the ground running and prove to bring a very high contribution level" to the commission.
Munsey herself, who found out she was Snow's choice while on vacation with her family, said she is excited about the opportunity that may be given her.
"Obviously it is a huge responsibility not to be taken lightly," she said. "I am just amazed and honored that [Supervisor] Snow has place that trust in me."
THE MOTHER OF two and South Riding resident since 1997 acknowledged that there would be a lot of things, including the plan amendments, that she would not be able to vote on.
"This is the hot seat of county," she said. "It is a very exciting opportunity, but fraught with a lot of different things. Let's just take it one step at a time and see what happens."
Munsey said that, while she would be pleased to take on the new role, she believes the most important thing is the loss of Beerman.
"It is a tremendous loss to the district to have Lawrence want to resign," she said. "I don't think anyone thought there was a better choice than Lawrence for the job."
Beerman is aware of Munsey's pending nomination and has contacted her to offer his support, she said.
"He has been very supportive and generous," Munsey said, "saying he would be willing to sit down with me and walk me through some things. That's a big thing for someone to offer. It's amazing."
Snow also had nothing but praise for Beerman and the work he has done on the commission.
"Through his Planning Commission work he has helped to shape a long-term vision of a vibrant and alive Dulles South community and I thank him for his dedication to the people of our district," Snow said in a Aug. 1 statement.
Snow also said he will take Beerman up on his offers of advice and mentoring in the coming months.
"We're going to miss him," he said.
As for Munsey, she will have almost a month longer to wait before she knows what the fall will hold for her.
"I hope that I am equal to the task, to the trust my supervisor has put in me," she said. "Now let's see if the board agrees with Steve."