New chief planner has a familiar face |

New chief planner has a familiar face

The Summit County Commission has tapped North Summit native Don Sargent as its newest community development director.

Sargent, who served since November as county planning director, will oversee the planning and building divisions at the Summit County Courthouse in Coalville.

His most recent job stint with Summit County began in 2004, but he started his career in the public sector as a planner in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Sargent was also a Summit County planner in the early 1990s.

Last November Sargent replaced Michael Barille as the county’s planning director under then-Community Development Director Nora Shepard, who moved this summer from Pinebrook to New Jersey.

Sargent takes over the department at a time when many landowners in eastern Summit County are complaining that zoning restrictions prevent them from developing their East Side property for profit.

A new program could allow rural landowners who are struggling financially to farm and ranch, to transfer building rights off their farmland to develop elsewhere in the county while preserving agricultural land with conservation easements. Farmers can help protect their land from development by working with a land trust to form the easements.

Before he began with the county in 2004 Sargent was a Realtor and private land consultant.

Today Sargent, who believes government planning is more fulfilling than working in the private sector, says he is not involved in any project that may create a conflict of interest in his new position.

"[Sargent] brings knowledge of the Summit County area to the department as well as an understanding of the culture, traditions and diversity of the people," a press release from Summit County states. "He possesses effective communication, leadership and management skills, and has the expertise and ability necessary to guide the department into the future."

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