By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald
St. Clair County’s Metropolitan Planning Commission has been without its executive director since Jan. 9.
David Struck, who has been with the county for more than 10 years, left to become the director of planning for the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority in Brighton to pursue “his dream job.” The authority is the body that administers 13 metroparks in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw and Livingston counties.
Struck was in charge of leading all county planning and zoning activities, which includes the preparation and development of the county’s master plan. The commission itself is responsible for setting the county’s development direction.
“It has always been Dave’s dream professionally to become a park system planner,” said Bill Kauffman, county administrator. “They offered him the job, and he is pursuing his dream. I don’t blame him for going. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
The county planning commission position remains vacant, but the process to hire Struck’s successor has started.
The application was posted Jan. 12 and will be open for a 30-day period in national and statewide online publications, including the American Planning Association, American Institute of Certified Planners, Michigan Municipal League, Career Builder and Michigan Works!
Kauffman said the county will conduct a national search for the next director.
“We will wade through all of the applications and figure out where we go from here,” Kauffman said. “If it is someone that is not local that needs to move, we may be looking at April before we’ve got someone here. It could happen much quicker if the candidate doesn’t have to move, but right now we are planning on the position being vacant for at least three months.”
Kauffman said the planning commission will be expected to spend more time working on program and project implementation.
In the past, staff spent most of its time developing plans for others. Kauffman said the county wants the commission to become more involved in the execution of those plans.
This includes the development of the Art Van building at 318 Grand River Ave., Port Huron.
The planning commission recently hired two local architectural firms to create concepts for the county-owned building. The commission will develop cost estimates and identify funding opportunities.
Kauffman said there is no official interim director — the planning commission has senior staff members who previously held a certain level of authority in the director’s absence to take care of administrative functions.
“Their roles will continue so there are certain tasks they will take on that they have always been charged with,” Kauffman said. “The actual administrative oversight will be conducted by administrative support staff.”
Struck’s salary was nearly $79,000.
Originally hired by the county to be a senior planner, Struck was promoted to director in 2011. Kauffman served as director of the planning commission for seven years before taking over as the county administrator.
Metropolitan Planning Commission Chairman Marsden Murphy said he first learned Struck was leaving before the board’s December meeting.
Murphy said he met Struck when the planning commission hired him as a planner for the county.
“He responded to a job posting and was in-depth in his work,” Murphy said. “He spoke well in front of a group and was a good leader.”
Struck oversaw the county’s transportation planning program, land use planning, housing rehabilitation programs, county capital improvement planning, and internal planning and support.
“He had a good rapport with people,” Murphy said. “He helped them through their master planning and consulted on many projects. Those relationships are invaluable because the department works with everyone by trying to come up with common strategies for economic development.
“You could always count on him to end up with a quality product,” Murphy said. “We were disappointed we were losing him, but we knew it was good for him.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 23, 2015)