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Leadership changes for planning fast-growing Greene County

As the county continues to grow, a leadership change is underway at the Greene County Regional Planning and Coordinating Commission.

Executive Director Ken LeBlanc is retiring this month after a career in planning of 40-plus years.

Devon Shoemaker, formerly a senior planner in Ross County, has been hired to fill the executive director role.

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LeBlanc leaves the post at a salary of $64,608 and Shoemaker has been hired at $63,706, according to county records.

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LeBlanc, 66, who served as Beavercreek’s first city planner in the 1980s, initially retired in 2006 after 20 years with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. He was hired back by Greene County in 2014.

“Right about the time I started the avalanche (of construction) started. Everyone was ready to start building again,” he said.

LeBlanc has been part of some of the area’s most significant and ambitious construction and infrastructure projects. Driving around the Miami Valley, he can see some of the fruits of his labor.

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“A lot of people go into construction or architecture because in a year you can see what you’ve done. In planning, you have to wait a decade or more. To be able to drive around see … ‘oh, that Commons Boulevard around the (Mall at Fairfield Commons), I drew that line on the map.”

In 1986, he was part of the I-675 interchange plan with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

“If you notice it’s a little easier to drive around the Beavercreek mall than it is the Dayton Mall, which was put in before all that kind of planning was done,” LeBlanc said. “We tried to plan out how the roads would have access points and signals … There was nothing there when we did the plan … We were just opening the highway and we said, ‘Oh, we need to plan out traffic here.’”

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Starting out of college in Greene County, LeBlanc was part of the Wilberforce Recovery Plan following the 1974 tornado. After a train derailment forced the evacuation of 30,000 people from the Dayton area, LeBlanc said he was part of the emergency response panel charged with getting fire departments prepared for hazardous chemical spills.

Other events and circumstances led to plans that made the area safer, he said. That was the case when officials around the area wanted to improve Dayton’s parks.

“We had a group of movers and shakers in the Dayton area come to us at MVRPC and wanted to inventory all the open space in the area and kind of get an idea for what’s out there and who needs to be managing it,” LeBlanc recalled.

“MetroParks used that study to go ahead and get their levy … and they were able to take over some of Dayton’s parks, like Eastwood Park … Now you can go to Eastwood Park and other parks in the area and it’s fine.”

What does the future hold for the Greene County region? LeBlanc said he doesn’t expect communities expanding much beyond their current boundaries.

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“We’re going to continue to get urban spill-over from Montgomery County,” he said. “I think a lot of communities are … turning in now and looking at what they have. It’s going to be more asset management.”

LeBlanc’s last day is Friday. He has been transitioning the last couple of weeks with Shoemaker, who must switch from planning in a slower-growth area like Ross County to Greene County, which has 12 subdivisions currently in different levels of planning.

Shoemaker said top priorities are seeing through two major projects that LeBlanc started: the city of Bellbrook’s comprehensive plan and the county’s thoroughfare plan.

“Greene County is diverse. Even geographically it’s diverse,” Shoemaker said. “There are a lot of diverse communities. Each one is unique unto itself. Each one has a lot of different types of potential that they could pursue.”

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