USAG Japan leaders talk tenant survey, home businesses in housing town hall

By Sean Kimmons, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMarch 10, 2024

Col. Marcus Hunter, center, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, answers a question during a housing town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024. Hunter, who was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, garrison senior enlisted leader, and Jenifer L. Peterson, deputy garrison commander, tackled questions ranging from the status of a new pet policy to starting a home business during the meeting.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Marcus Hunter, center, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, answers a question during a housing town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024. Hunter, who was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, garrison senior enlisted leader, and Jenifer L. Peterson, deputy garrison commander, tackled questions ranging from the status of a new pet policy to starting a home business during the meeting. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
Jesus Chavarria, right, housing division chief, answers questions from residents following a housing town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jesus Chavarria, right, housing division chief, answers questions from residents following a housing town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024. (Photo Credit: Tim Flack) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan leaders hosted a town hall here Thursday to answer questions and better inform housing residents.

“This is for us in the community to come together and talk about what we think are issues and also for us to be able to update you on ongoing projects,” said Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of USAG Japan. “This should be both informative and also important for us to receive feedback.”

Hunter, who was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, garrison senior enlisted leader, and Jenifer L. Peterson, deputy garrison commander, tackled questions ranging from the status of a new pet policy to starting a home business during the hourlong meeting in Kizuna Hall.

The leaders also encouraged residents to participate in the annual tenant satisfaction survey, which launched last week and will remain open until April 18.

Hunter said input from that survey can help the command prioritize funding for projects that residents would like to see in their communities.

“Little by little we allocate that money,” Hunter said, “so your feedback through the survey is important.”

Jesus Chavarria, housing division chief, asked residents to provide honest answers in the survey.

He mentioned some projects based on past responses, including new appliances and playground upgrades. He said ideas from residents, such as additional lighting and improved kitchen layouts, were also incorporated into home renovation designs.

“Please use that to have your voice heard by us,” Chavarria said of the survey. “We do take it seriously and we do look at the feedback.”

Jesus Chavarria, housing division chief, provides housing updates during a town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the meeting along with Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, garrison senior enlisted leader, and Jenifer L. Peterson, deputy garrison commander.
Jesus Chavarria, housing division chief, provides housing updates during a town hall inside Kizuna Hall at Camp Zama, Japan, March 7, 2024. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the meeting along with Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, garrison senior enlisted leader, and Jenifer L. Peterson, deputy garrison commander. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

Chavarria also said that a committee recently discussed a new policy that would allow pets in the housing towers at Camp Zama.

The consensus from the meeting was to slowly test the policy at Building 1050 in the near future, allowing residents to have dogs in the first three floors of that tower and cats throughout both towers.

“We're going to try out a trial period,” Hunter said. “We’ve gauged this on both community feedback and how some of the other towers across Japan [do it].”

Chavarria said the new pet policy will offer guidance on electronic dog leashes or voice control by dog owners while outside of the housing, which was a question brought up in the last town hall.

“That will be addressed in this policy,” he said. “Just know that your pets have to be leashed at all times.”

For those with larger dogs, Chavarria said the garrison has been actively working with off-post realtors to help personnel find homes that permit them.

In an effort to push news and information out to everyone in the Camp Zama community, Hunter encouraged people to sign up for a weekly email that is currently distributed to thousands of recipients.

The Garrison public affairs team delivers the email, which compiles details from several announcements, to official email addresses. If someone doesn’t receive the email, they can send a request to usag.japan@gmail.com to have their personal email address added to the distribution list.

Hunter said he informs people at newcomer briefings about the community email and hopes to continue spreading the word to others since it’s a great way to share timely information.

“It is a very informative email and it's meant to pool information across a lot of different sources,” he said. “We try to pool all of that into one place, so you don’t have to hunt and peck [for information] as much.”

Another question discussed referred to guidance for residents operating a business from their home.

Hunter said residents can register their business through the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Before entrepreneurs can operate from their home, garrison staff checks if there is proper food handling and operations do not affect the home, such as food preparation damaging pipes. Childcare services would also need to be properly managed while a business cannot use the home as a showroom or U.S. mail to ship items.

“The registration process is not hard,” Hunter said, “but it helps ensure that some of those things are monitored as required for the safety and security of the community.”

In closing, Hunter thanked audience members for all their feedback during the town hall.

“A lot of what we talked about is us as one big family and community working together and making things better for everybody,” he said. “I appreciate your participation and help in that effort and look forward to continuing to be able to dialogue with you and hear what things need attention.”

Related links:

U.S. Army Garrison Japan news

USAG Japan official website