Township residents calling for a zoning inspector will be met with a new face beginning this month with the appointment of Brian Prunty as assistant planning and zoning director for Howland.
Prunty was appointed to the position after former assistant director Kim Mascarella moved up to the director's position.
Prunty, who graduated from Kent State University with a degree in geology and earth science, hopes to use his expertise working with soil and water conservation to move the township to the future.
Howland Community News / Kathleen Evanoff
Brian Prunty, of Stow, was recently appointed as assistant planning and zoning director for Howland Township. Prunty, who formerly worked with Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Stark and Trumbull counties, plans to bring his expertise in water conservation to help the township with its community development plans.
''The township is a hot spot for development,'' Prunty said. ''Everyone's leaving (U.S. Route) 422 and moving to Cortland Niles Road.''
As development moves into the township, Prunty hopes to incorporate his ideas for storm water projects into any new construction.
''Other departments have landscape mandates for beautification,'' Prunty said. ''These areas are used for beautification and help shade the parking lots and keep those areas cooler.''
Studies in other areas of the country have shown that instead of building these parking lot oases above ground level, they should be sunken and surrounded by curbs to keep vehicles from running over them. While catch basins are generally used to catch rainwater during heavy event rains, smaller amounts of rainwater that sit in parking lots collect pollutants that flow into streams and rivers, he said.
By creating these smaller, landscaped reservoirs that collect water that ultimately soaks in to the ground, water can be cleaned by these natural methods of filtration.
The ideas behind cleaning water runoff naturally originated on both the east and west coasts of the United States.
''This way of thinking started in the Chesapeake Bay area about 20 years ago,'' Prunty said. ''It is new to Ohio and thanks to the Internet, we are learning from their mistakes.''
While new development in the area has been slow due to the recent economy, Prunty feels once the economy gets going, Howland will be seeing a surge in new projects.
Prior to his appointment in Niles, Prunty spent seven years working with soil and water districts in both Stark and Trumbull Counties. He plans to work closely with Mascarella and other administrators with the township's new comprehensive plan, which includes new signs and landscapes at the gateway entrances to the township, as well as the stormwater projects.
''Dollar for dollar, we can buy more flood plain land than what it takes to build a retention pond,'' Prunty said.
Using the land off of North River Road that was partially used last summer for community gardens as an example, Prunty said some of the plans for that area include a fruit orchard, a wildflower meadow and a prairie habitat.
''The areas are sponges for stormwater runoff,'' Prunty said.
In addition to those ideas, Prunty's position includes enforcing the township's property maintenance code as well as opening up more areas of the township for naturalization, as well as creating more open space in undeveloped areas. Current zoning regulations will be updated to match the comprehensive plan, he said.
As township, Prunty feels that Howland is very progressive in its thinking.
''The people here are open minded,'' he said, ''and I only want what's best for this community.''