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He's working in the zone

November 30, 1999|By Joshua Bowman

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Luckily, Aaron Shura has an odd skill set.

The 24-year-old from Winchester, Va., is just as comfortable examining technical ordinances as he is smooth talking an angry resident.

Both skills are necessary for Shura's job as a zoning inspector with Washington County's Permits Department.

Shura spends his days investigating complaints about junk cars in front yards, overgrown weeds and improper setbacks.

Complaints first have to be verified as possible violations by looking at, and understanding, zoning laws. Then Shura goes out to a residence or business to talk to the violator, who isn't always receptive to Shura's comments.

"Sometimes people get upset. But 99 percent of the battle is how you approach people," Shura said.

Shura, who graduated with a master's degree in public administration from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., said he enjoys the variety that comes with handling a different violation every day.

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"I'm never bored, and there's always a different way to approach something," Shura said.

When Shura was in college, he interned with the local zoning department and even rode around with the zoning inspector to gain experience. But he said the best training he got in college came from his work as a resident adviser in his dormitory.

"I was enforcing hall policies instead of zoning ordinances, but it really taught me how to deal with unhappy people," Shura said.

His supervisor, Director of Permits and Inspections Daniel Divito, said Shura has done great work in his year on the job.

"We joke that he might have been born to be a zoning inspector," said Divito, who hired Shura in October 2006.

Divito said people have come into the office at 80 W. Baltimore St. furious about receiving multiple violations from Shura.

"And then they say, 'but he was such a nice guy,'" Divito said.

Shura said he enjoys resolving problems and hopes to continue working for Washington County.

"I plan on staying here for a long time. Maybe in 20 years, I'll be county administrator," Shura said.

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