October 23, 2003


Chris Mucher


Incumbent seeks another term as Miami Township trustee

Backed by the campaign slogan “experienced proven leadership,” village resident Chris Mucher is running for re-election to the Miami Township Board of Trustees. The News talked to Mucher last Friday at the township office, where he was checking messages before opening his Movieworks/Photoworks store on Xenia Avenue.

Mucher has been a trustee for the past seven years, serving as the board’s president for the last three. Raised in Hudson, Ohio, he has lived and worked in Yellow Springs for the past 23 years. He and his wife, Cindy (Struewing), owned and operated the Tastee Freeze for five years before 1985, when Mucher opened his current photo finishing and movie rental business downtown.

Though he wanted to find a way to give back to the community early on, Mucher said he had to wait until his three children were a little older before being selected from a pool of 13 applicants to finish a year of Dale Reed’s term as township trustee in 1996. Mucher was then elected to finish out that term in 1997 and re-elected for his first full four-year term as trustee in 1999.

Mucher said he has learned from experience that the job of trustee has to be a process of active involvement in order to get projects done and issues resolved. With nearly every proposal he has made, he feels he has encouraged input, supervised the work and seen the project to completion.

That said, one of the things Mucher likes about his role as trustee is working on long-term projects and having a chance to adjust to the circumstances and to residents’ needs along the way, he said. As a trustee, he is able to take a deliberate approach to local issues and take the time to include all different points of view to develop the policy that is best for the community.

A good example, he said, is the township’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which Mucher proposed two years ago. After Whitehall Farm was sold and Mucher participated in revising the Greene County land use plan, he realized Miami Township could also benefit from a plan on the future direction of local land use, he said.

Though not many townships have land use plans, the trustees decided to use the township’s volunteer zoning commission to draft a plan instead of outsourcing the job. The process has taken longer and demanded more oversight, Mucher said, but he believes having local stewards at the helm will ensure that zoning changes reflect the needs of local residents.

The Cooperative Economic Development Agreement and the farmland preservation fund are two other ongoing projects that Mucher proposed and continues to shape with input from trustees and other interested parties.

Mucher has also seen the importance of inviting public input early on in the process of establishing policies and regulations, he said. Holding a public hearing for each draft of a proposal and allowing for public comment on revisions can help avoid the situation created by the Springfield- Beckley Airport Zoning Commission when members proposed new zoning regulations that local residents had not been involved in creating.

Trustees have generally received a limited response to surveys, Mucher said, and public hearings seem to be the best way of soliciting public opinion.

Since coming on the board, Mucher said he has been very sensitive to his position as a village resident and has tried to bring more township voices to the trustees’ attention. He has personally recruited several township residents to the township zoning commission and also recruited two farming residents from the township to join the board of trustees, including current trustee Lamar Spracklen.

During his time on the board, Mucher said the trustees have been proactive in their support of Miami Township Fire-Rescue, fulfilling 38 out of 38 projects requested from the fire department. According to www.chrismucher.com, the trustees have approved the purchase of three fire-rescue vehicles, proposed funds for a firehouse building upgrade and for volunteer recruitment and retention, and approved purchase of equipment such as a new thermal imaging camera, the Jaws of Life extraction tools and several medical devices.

Mucher said he is always available to discuss issues that arise, and he “stays in the loop” by talking to fire chief Colin Altman on a regular basis outside of township meetings.

Mucher is interested in maintaining a balance between agricultural activity and economic development in the township. He feels that keeping commercial development centered around the municipality reduces the pressure of commercial development on farmland and supports the agricultural acitivity in the township.

“If land owners are of a mind to cash their land in to benefit from its increased value, they can do that,” he said. “But if they could be encouraged to allow the Tecumseh Land Trust to help purchase an easement on their property, the surrounding areas would maintain their value for agricultural use as opposed to development use.”

The balance between farmland and economic development will be achieved by promoting business growth in strategic locations in the township, he believes.

“The most impactful issue in the future is without a doubt the opportunity we have with the CEDA to share and work toward establishing commercial enterprise in the areas designated to benefit from that,” he said.

As the Township works with the Village to provide incentives and tax abatements to potential developers, Mucher said the trustees need to be mindful that they are negotiating not only for the township but for the school board as well. Though the trustees are authorized to forgive up to 75 percent of a developer’s property taxes, the schools lose potential income when too much is relinquished, he said.

“There are other creative ways to make incentives, such as an economic development loan guarantee,” he said. “I would also hope that an incentives package is fairly shared by the interested parties.”

Aside from the long-term issue of the CEDA, Mucher said, the most immediate township needs are to follow through with helping the fire department acquire its new thermal imaging camera, establish specifications for the new tanker the department will buy in 2005 and continue working toward a facilities upgrade by matching general funds with fire department money.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the seven years I’ve been on the board, and I look forward to continuing the projects I’ve started and those important to the community,” Mucher said. “I feel I have an excellent record of service and the proven ability to accomplish the goals I’ve set for the township.”

—Lauren Heaton