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City planning director retires

July 19, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

After 24 years as Hagerstown planning director, Ric Kautz is retiring, hopefully leaving the city a better place than when he started, he said Thursday.

Kautz, 59, said he has enjoyed his years as planning director and has had good relations with the elected and appointed bodies he has worked with.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman, Mayor William M. Breichner and Hagerstown Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright praised Kautz this week as a city asset.

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"I view Ric as a key member of the city management team. He is a very hard worker, extremely knowledgeable about the planning professions and all the ins and outs of the city," said Wright, who has been on the planning commission since 1988.

The accomplishments Kautz is most proud of include assisting in the annexation of properties and developing a business park on Wesel Boulevard, he said.

Other accomplishments include working on downtown revitalization and helping with the creation of the North Potomac Street parking deck, Kautz said.

Kautz, who was hired by the city in 1978, never really set out to be a planner.

When Kautz received his bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Maryland in 1966, he had no idea what a planner actually did, he said.

After serving in the Army from 1967-69, he considered a career in education but decided that was not for him.

Kautz instead walked into the Chesterfield County, Va., county government offices one day in 1970 and asked what jobs were available. He was offered a job as an entry-level planner and took it.

He soon began dealing with subdivisions and developers and decided planning was a profession that he enjoyed.

While some jobs deal with just one specific area, planners deal with a wide array of issues and people, Kautz said. As a planner, he meets with attorneys, developers, business leaders and other citizens, working on finances, land-use planning and other topics that interest him.

Kautz went on to work as a community planner and, later, a senior regional planner for the Commonwealth of Virginia before coming to Hagerstown.

Kautz said he will move into a home near Fenwick Island in Delaware as soon as he sells his house in Hagerstown.

Kautz plans to buy a pontoon boat and spend some of his time crabbing and fishing. He probably will also take up golfing, which he has not done much in the past.

Kautz's last day as a city employee is July 26.

The city has not decided who will serve as interim director when Kautz leaves, Zimmerman said.

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