WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) celebrated its 50th anniversary in November. Since its founding, the RPC has come to embody regional cooperation and an independent voice in planning and development.
The RPC has been a steward of Clinton County through several periods of change during the agency’s half-century. An important voice for local communities and neighborhoods in the decision-making process, the commission is widely acknowledged as the most jurisdictionally diverse governmental body in the county.
Before looking at its history, let’s briefly speak about now.
The 50th year of the RPC finds Clinton County at a new crossroads. Development pressures, primarily along the county’s western border, have revived conversations about the preservation of natural resources and agricultural land while accommodating new residential developments.
In addition, county broadband has emerged as a major topic of concern as the global pandemic has exposed the nation’s digital divide.
Starting in 2021, the RPC will embark on the first County Comprehensive Plan update since 2004. The comprehensive plan will identify short-term and long-range planning objectives, actions, and strategies to achieve the community’s vision for the future of Clinton County.
Much has changed in Clinton County over the past 50 years, and like the county, the RPC has observed profound changes since its inception. Today, the RPC is positioned on a strong foundation with the support of the County Commissioners, the City of Wilmington, Village and Township partners, and a robust network of collaborative partnerships with public and private agencies.
This foundation will ensure that the RPC can continue to be a reliable agency for Clinton County for many years to come.
Two Clinton County commissioners, Oscar Hackney and D.M. Fife, had the idea to create a regional planning commission in 1969. After gaining approval from elected leaders from the Villages, the City of Wilmington and the County, the RPC was legislated into existence on Nov. 6, 1970.
Today, the RPC is composed of 20 members: 11 from the County and nine from municipalities.
In 1992, Ken Schaublin was hired as the RPC’s first executive director. Under Schaublin’s leadership, the RPC adopted comprehensive plans, subdivision regulations, parks plans, farmland preservation plans, and housing studies.
Following Schaublin in 2007, Christian Schock became the new executive director just months before DHL announced it would cease operations at the air park — eliminating thousands of jobs and leaving many to wonder about the direction of the county’s future.
In the face of the devastating job losses, Schock pivoted the RPC from its traditional planning role toward disaster management. During this time the RPC partnered with Energize Clinton County (ECC) to explore a range of economic and community development initiatives and programs.
Notable examples include: a “Buy Local” campaign, which evolved into the Chamber’s current Local First program; the development of the local food economy; and the Clinton Community Fellows program, which is focused on retaining young professionals and addressing rural “brain drain.”
The RPC and ECC received many accolades for its economic and community development efforts in the wake of the loss of DHL and of the nationwide Great Recession, including a 2013 National Planning Achievement Award for Economic Planning and Development.
Schock moved on from the RPC in 2015, and was replaced by Taylor Stuckert as the new executive director.
In the most recent chapter of the RPC’s history it has established the Clinton County Land Bank, which has cleaned up nearly 50 blighted properties in Clinton County.
Over the past five years, the RPC has continued to actively plan in the county with village beautification plans, zoning code updates, and comprehensive plans for both Wilmington and Blanchester.