Harrison Twp. trying new approach to business corridors after tornado

Joe Seyfferle is the owner of Joe's Cycle Shop Inc. on North Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp. Seyfferle's business was damaged by the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Joe Seyfferle is the owner of Joe's Cycle Shop Inc. on North Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp. Seyfferle's business was damaged by the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Township puts moratorium on new developments while studying best way to bounce back.

Harrison Twp. has put a pause on new developments in the Wagner Ford Road and North Dixie corridors so that it can conduct research and figure out the best way to develop the area after a tornado ripped through it three years ago.

Harrison Twp. Administrator Kris McClintick said there had been disinvestment in some of the township’s commercial corridors before 2019, and there were also ongoing shifts in the brick-and-mortar retail market.

Then the tornado hit, leaving some clean slates for redevelopment, but also making clear the need for better strategies.

About 1,800 properties in Harrison Twp. were impacted by the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes, including Joe’s Cycle Shop at 3315 N. Dixie Drive.

“We had to have the roof replaced, we actually used to have a big sign on top of our building with our shop’s name and we lost it in the tornado, too,” said Joe Seyfferle, who owns the cycle shop.

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This is a drone photograph showing land between I75, Wagner Ford and North Dixie. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

This is a drone photograph showing land between I75, Wagner Ford and North Dixie. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Combined ShapeCaption
This is a drone photograph showing land between I75, Wagner Ford and North Dixie. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

He said the damage to his family business wasn’t as bad as others suffered and he was able to remain open. However, he said a lot of people didn’t want to come to the area in the aftermath of the tornado, which hurt his business. He said while it’s better now, it’s still not 100% back because of issues related to the pandemic.

Seyfferle said there is a lot of work to be done for the area to be revived. He said there are still homes that need work done, there is still trash around and there are trees that need to be cut. He also said there is a need to attract more businesses that will make people want to come back to the area regularly.

“We need more retail establishments,” Seyfferle said. “We lost Subway, Little Caesars, a lot when it wiped out the shopping center. It would be nice for some of that stuff to rebuild here.”

He said one thing the corridor doesn’t need is more used car lots.

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Harrison Twp. officials told the Dayton Daily News that there is a clear need for new ideas.

“To assist with redevelopment and reinvestment in the business corridors, the township has placed a yearlong moratorium on new development in the Wagner Ford Corridor and Dixie Corridor to allow us to do a market study and collaborate with developers and realtors to identify the best way for us to reinvest in this corridor,” McClintick said. “The study is designed to understand the market feasibility of various uses and instruct the township on the best ways to update our zoning and development regulations to foster successful reinvestment in the area to support growth and prosperity in our community.”

Putting a moratorium on new developments does risk losing out on potential opportunities, Harrison Twp. Development Director Emily Crow said, but officials said the township is getting interest in sectors that don’t “benefit the community in a holistic sense.”

“We just look at this as an opportunity to rebuild in a better way that is more sustainable and provides bigger opportunities for the township,” she said.

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The area has enough self-storage and automotive lots and needs to figure out what else can go there, she said.

“We are getting a lot of interest from certain sectors, but the things that we don’t have enough of are good grocery stores. We probably would like to have some hotels, restaurants, service type businesses that are catering to our local population, and the other thing is that we need a lot of is housing because we did lose housing with the tornado,” she said.

She said, however, that the study is ongoing.

“Really what we are looking at here is the township had not updated its zoning regulations in more than 20 years, we didn’t have a long-term plan that was current or up-to-date, and so then when the tornado happened it really just compounded the problem.”

The moratorium will last through Dec. 22.

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