Residents can stake their claim in future of Boardman Twp.

Boardman Township’s slogan trumpets the Mahoning Valley’s largest suburban community as “a nice place to call home.” To be sure, Boardman leaders and many township residents take great pride in the diversity of business, residential, commercial and professional development in their township and the relative lack of blight to stain the appearance, the image and the integrity of the community.

Today’s 35,000 Boardman residents can thank township voters who 66 years ago approved formal zoning oversight for the township. In the years since, the township has exploded with growth, but the township’s zoning commission has worked to ensure that growth has been controlled and well managed. In so doing, they work to honor the purpose of zoning first presented to township voters in 1948, namely to promote “public health, safety, morals, comfort and general welfare” of all Boardman residents and businesses.

To ensure continued protection of those ideals, property values and an aesthetically pleasing appearance for the township, Zoning Inspector Sarah Gartland and her staff have been working with Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies to craft a master plan to guide the township’s land use well into the midpoint of the 21st century.

That initiative illustrates progressive proactive policymaking around which the community should rally and offer constructive input.

The goal is to develop a master plan that focuses on defining and improving the township’s eclectic network of residential neighborhoods and commercial businesses.

“The idea is to document everything we have going, what directions we see [for the township], areas that need attention and come up with a vision,” Gartland said.

Updating the vision for Boardman began last year with community forums at which residents reviewed preliminary ideas and sounded off on zoning needs in their little corner of the township. Several key concerns included attracting but controlling more commercial growth and minimizing ongoing problems with storm water in several neighborhoods.

The focus on updating the township’s land-use plan comes at a propitious time. In recent months, Boardman has undergone a renewed development spurt with stores, restaurants and commercial establishments taking over, remodeling and revitalizing properties that had sat vacant after the crippling Great Recession of five years ago.

Input from residents

Gartland and her staff are crisscrossing the township, soliciting residents’ input and getting first-hand views of neighborhood-specific concerns. Residents who have not been contacted should contact the Zoning department to offer their ideas for community improvement through revised land-use policies that affect neighborhood cohesiveness, business and industry attraction, traffic bottlenecks, preservation of the historic character of many sections of the township, concerns for a clearly defined town center and any other suggestions.

Once a redeveloped planning map is completed by YSU urban planners, township officials should present it to the public for review, comments and tweaking.

In so doing, Boardman residents will carry on a longstanding tradition of the 109-year-old township. They will demonstrate their pride and their vested stake in shaping the character and future of their “nice place to call home.”

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