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Familiar face takes over at redevelopment commission for city

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Submitted photo

Heather Pope
Submitted photo Heather Pope

The Columbus/Bartholomew County Planning Department’s senior planner has been named the city’s next director of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.

Heather Pope, who began working in local government in 1996, said she intends to use her experience in property planning to improve the downtown and other city areas set aside as tax-increment financing districts.

Those districts are geographic bubbles that return at least some property tax

revenue generated from its businesses back into those areas for district improvements.

The commission is charged with fostering business growth, in part by appropriating land and making improvements within the city.

“I’m very excited,” said Pope, who starts her new job in August. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me, and I have just always loved Columbus.”

Mayor Kristen Brown said she is glad to have Pope assume the responsibilities that have been handled temporarily by Mary Ferdon, director of the city’s Office of Community Development. She praised Pope’s strong planning background as an asset that will make her a solid director.

The city had been without a redevelopment director since Ed Curtin left at the end of last year.

Pope’s responsibilities as a senior planner include helping with site developments of newly developing properties, guiding developers through governmental hurdles and reviewing projects to see if they conform to city expectations.

Pope already knows her way around city government and has worked for years with some of the same people she will continue to work with as the redevelopment director.

She said she intends to work with Jason Hester, executive director of the Columbus Economic Development Board, to promote job creation in the tax-increment financing districts. She also plans to work with Laurence Brown, director of the city’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, to find ways to maximize parking downtown.

Tim Shuffett, a member of the Redevelopment Commission, said he is impressed with Pope’s planning experience and her familiarity with city government. He said he also is impressed with her enthusiasm. ”I have known Heather for years (from) when I served on the Board of Zoning Appeals,” Ferdon said. “She is knowledgeable, bright, very capable and personable; and her planning experience will be a huge benefit in her new job.”

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