CLAYTON — John F. “Jack” Kuntz III has joined the City of Clayton staff as the director of development.
A native of Dayton, he grew up in the North mina Street/Hillcrest Drive area. He attended Wright State University obtaining a degree in Urban Affairs with a minor in American History.
Prior to joining the Clayton staff he started his working career with Harrison Township in 2000 where he worked for two years. Kuntz went to work for Washington Township for five years as a zoning inspector then returned to Harrison Township in 2007 as the assistant development director and in 2010 became the development director.
“One of the first things we did when I joined the Clayton staff was to develop a 5-year Economic Development Plan,” Kuntz stated. “During the first year we are trying to get some planning underway. The only master plan Clayton had dated back to 1999 when it became a city. That plan was kind of out dated so we wanted to look at how we wanted to grow and where we wanted to go over the next 10 to 15 years.”
The three main areas prime for commercial development include the North Main Street and Salem Avenue corridors as well as the Village of North Clayton on National Road.
“We are trying to establish ideas of what we want to do in those areas,” Kuntz said. “All three of those areas have unique challenges unto themselves.”
Kuntz pointed out that North Main Street has a lot of aging housing stock.
“Zoning and Planning Administrator Jennifer Barclay is working on developing an overlay district to figure out some new development standards along North Main Street,” he said. “We are also looking at targeting older housing stock in that area that has been vacant and possibly tax delinquent.”
Clayton entered into an agreement with the Montgomery County Land Bank within the last two months. The city received a $50,000 grant from the Land Bank to fund some planning and the city sent out requests for qualifications for consultants to assist the city with a master plan.
The city also applied for funding from the Community Development Block Grant program to perform some demolition of rundown properties and to fund construction of ADA ramps in some of its residential areas. Kuntz is also working on obtaining a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to possibly widen National Road at the Haber Road intersection as well as install a traffic light at that intersection.
A few weeks ago the city sent a survey out to all of its businesses to obtain feedback on how the city is doing to help those businesses and to learn how the city can be more responsive to meet business’s needs. City staff also walked into several businesses to introduce themselves and to see what the city could do to help and to gauge the business community and its needs.
“We need some different development standards, which is going to happen over the next five to 15 years, to establish our own identity along North Main Street,” Kuntz said.
He said a lot of opportunity also exists along Salem Avenue with all of the open farmland available.
“We’ve had some conversations with property owners along Salem as well as with some Realtors to try to figure out what the issues are and why those properties haven’t sold,” Kuntz stated. “One of the things we found in discussions with Realtors was that a lot of the traffic count studies were outdated so we are scheduled to do some updated traffic count studies this fall.”
The city is in negotiation to obtain site control of some of the properties along Salem in order to spur development.
City staff has also had conversations with some of the property owners in the area of the Village of North Clayton and have been encouraged by some of those conversations.
“The back shopping center owner is having conversations with people to move into some of the empty tenant spaces and the front commercial land along National Road has just gone up on the market, so we are starting to get a lot of inquiries about that area,” Kuntz noted. “We believe there is some real potential there in the next year or two for that to take off.”
Kuntz has his hands full trying to pull all of the plans together to help Clayton grow its retail and industrial base.
“I’ve only been here for less than four months and I think the first year is really going to set the foundation of how we want to move forward,” Kuntz noted. “I see this as a real long-term opportunity.”