For the first time in years - decades, actually - Thomas J. Riley will have his Monday nights to himself.

For the first time in years - decades, actually - Thomas J. Riley will have his Monday nights to himself.

And what's he going to do with all that free time? "Probably nothing more glamorous than an extra night at the gym," Riley said with a laugh.

After 30 years of service, Riley, the longtime chairman of the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning, presided over his last meeting Feb. 21.

Riley, who had served as the head of the board since 1986, submitted his resignation last March after city council President Frank Ciotola suggested that more residents should have the opportunity to occupy the board's seats. Ciotola's remarks were made amid growing debate by both council members and residents over whether term limits should be implemented for the volunteer board.

Kevin Carpenter will be sworn in to replace Riley at the next meeting.

"We're losing a wealth of institutional knowledge with T.J.'s retirement," said Chad Gibson, the senior planner for the city's development department. "We're talking about hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of volunteer time that he's spent working with our department. T.J. has shepherded major projects and been an asset for three decades. His replacement has big shoes to fill."

When he first joined the board in 1982, Riley, who grew up in Marble Cliff, brought his skills and experience as an attorney to the meetings.

"I was familiar with a lot of land-related issues, although I never dealt with rezoning issues as an attorney," he recalled. "I think my strengths included having the sense of how a meeting should be run as well as being able to listen to opposing views and come to a consensus."

An Upper Arlington resident since 1972, Riley is proud of his service to the community. In 2010, he was honored as the Public Official of the Year by the Central Ohio American Planning Association.

"I enjoyed working on the city's master plan and seeing it work as well as it has," he said noting that although the plan was adopted in 2000, the changes were implemented gradually.

"It bodes well for the future of the city," he said.

During Riley's tenure, the city has witnessed a commercial revitalization on Lane Avenue and Kingsdale.

"Kingsdale and Lane Avenue are entirely different than what they were, but they're still the same," Riley said. "Arlington has evolved in a very positive manner Arlington needs to evolve. The non-residential areas have to be increased in terms of revenue."

Last year as the city worked to bring more business to the Lane Avenue area, worried residents packed the board's Monday night meetings to express concerns about how the changes would affect their neighborhoods.

"The Lane Avenue meetings brought a lot of strong emotions," Riley said. "All we can do is react to what is brought before us. Of course, there were going to be strong feelings. That was to be expected, but there was a lot of good input from the Lane Avenue neighbors. I don't think the board has taken much heat in most of the cases."

With his departure, Riley praised the city employees he's worked with to maintain and improve Arlington's zoning standards.

"I really loved serving on the board," said Riley. "The development employees are wonderful people and dedicated public servants. The residents of Upper Arlington are blessed to have high- quality staff."