Q&A: What Beavercreek’s new planning director sees for future

Randy Burkett, Beavercreek Planning and Development Director

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Randy Burkett, Beavercreek Planning and Development Director

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The City of Beavercreek’s new Planning and Development Director said his new job feels like playing for his favorite childhood sports team.

Council approved the appointment of Randy Burkett to the position on Monday after Burkett served as the interim director for six months. Burkett is filling the role left by the beloved Jeff McGrath, who died suddenly in January, leaving behind a long, dedicated career.

“I just want to stress that nobody will ever replace Mr McGrath and fill his exact shoes,” said Pete Landrum, Beavercreek City Manager. “Randy will do it a different way. I know tonight, Jeff is giving two thumbs up and saying ‘Go Randy.”

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Randy Burkett, Beavercreek Planning and Development Director

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Randy Burkett, Beavercreek Planning and Development Director

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Randy Burkett, Beavercreek Planning and Development Director

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

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Burkett, a fifth generation Beavercreek resident, has been with the city for 13 years — first starting in October 2006 as the Associate City Planner, moving up to City Planner in April 2007 and then began serving as interim Planning and Development Director this February.

During college, Burkett worked for the city during the summer as a part-time season worker.

“He’s straight up, honest,” Landrum said. “The guidance already (shown) through COVID-19, I could tell the way he interacts with the staff, with me ... the way he interacts with developers and just the general public is outstanding.”

The Dayton Daily News asked Burkett what he sees and hopes for the future of Beavercreek as he begins this new chapter.

Q: As a fifth generation Beavercreek resident, what does coming into the role of Planning and Development Director mean to you?

A: I enjoy urban planning, site planning, architectural review and related things, so to get to do it for the City I grew up in is like playing for the sports team you rooted for growing up. Having the opportunity to be the Planning and Development Director, and being part of the City Manager’s executive team is a whole different level that I am happy to be able to jump into with the same excitement. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help my hometown in any way I can.

Q: Are there any major ways you think the economy will influence Beavercreek, its businesses and residents over the next three to five years?

A: In the short-term, I think there are still many challenges facing our businesses and residents due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. Although from what I’ve heard we haven’t had many businesses needing to close down operations for good, but we have had a few, and even a few is still too many. I believe in general though, the issue we have in Beavercreek is with consumer confidence, or fear of contracting the virus. ... How fast and how long it takes to get back to pre-COVID-19 numbers will depend on the virus situation. I do believe that many of the businesses will rebound quickly once the virus has been eliminated as a severe threat as businesses have been very creative in learning many new ways of doing business, and I anticipate some form of that modified business model will continue post COVID-19. Post-COVID-19, Beavercreek will continue to be the desired place for businesses and people to live, work and play.

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Q: What are the challenges or obstacles the city is currently facing, that you feel confident you can help improve in the first year or so in your new role?

A: From the Planning and Development’s perspective, our biggest challenges lie in the redevelopment of older commercial corridor lots that abut residential neighborhoods. Many times these older lots, due to the way they were configured 40 or 50 years ago, don’t lend themselves to redevelopment easily, or up to today’s standards. However, it is important to the economic health of the community to keep the corridor’s vibrant, and modern. To do that, while simultaneously doing our best to protect and involve the residential neighbors in the process, requires creative planning, by both developers and the City.

Q: What are things that make you optimistic about Beavercreek’s future?

A: Several things. While not an exhaustive list, I think our future and forward-looking City Council, great leadership, excellent safety and public services, heavily involved citizenry -- who love Beavercreek as much I do -- the strong presence of the defense industry, low vacancy rates of housing and commercial buildings, and the excellent school system are just a few of the things that I am optimistic about when thinking of the City’s future.

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Q: What are the issues on the November ballot that you feel residents need to pay special close attention to, or issues that you think will be crucial in how they influence Beavercreek’s future?

A: The income tax initiative is the only thing that we have locally on the ballot this year. This decision is a major one, which is a decision on how and to what extent the city will be funded. With all of the development and growth that has occurred since 1980, the city has continued to be funded like a township with property taxes, which are not a sustainable way of funding a city. ... The founders of our city could not have imagined the growth, population and size of infrastructure of Beavercreek, which is 2nd in land mass only to Dayton and 3rd largest by population in the region. ... It is a big decision that will impact the future of our city including how we are funded, our infrastructure and city services.

Q: What’s the biggest way you foresee Beavercreek evolving in the next three to five years?

A: I don’t foresee any significant changes in the City from the 30,000-foot level, meaning from the city as a whole, I see it remaining at 68% residential, 21% commercial and 11% open space, or right-of-way

. I think there will be a small portion of people who permanently work-from-home following the pandemic. However I don’t see that taking up a huge portion of the office market. Same goes with online vs. brick and mortar shopping. I think there may be an uptick in the amount of online shopping, but I don’t see that dominating our market in the short or mid-term. I did read that we (the Dayton region) did pass a first test for site selection of the Space Force Headquarters. If that were to happen, and Dayton/Beavercreek/Fairborn/WPAFB were to become the home to Space Force, I think that would be a game changer. The secondary services that would follow the 1,400 potential new jobs to the area would make an enormous impact

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Beavercreek is hoping for significant development in the next few years of these two large parcels that are split by the new Shakertown Road extension. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Beavercreek is hoping for significant development in the next few years of these two large parcels that are split by the new Shakertown Road extension. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Beavercreek is hoping for significant development in the next few years of these two large parcels that are split by the new Shakertown Road extension. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

on our area.

Q: What area or neighborhood of Beavercreek do you expect to develop, grow or change in a significant way over the next few years?

A: While we haven’t received any applications yet, I think over the next few years we are going to see significant development of the two large parcels that are split by the new Shakertown Road extension, and potentially some new facilities within Research Park.

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