Columbus hires part-time town planner

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Town of Columbus has a new employee who is focusing his efforts on zoning, code enforcement and economic development.
The town recently hired Larry Traber as a part-time planner, who works two days per week with the town.
Traber is a retired architect who spent the last approximately 50 years with careers in architecture, construction and real estate.
Traber began working with the town in March, filling a position the town had left vacant for about eight months.
Columbus formerly had a full-time planner, but most recently shared a planner with the Town of Tryon. The shared planner, Melanie Sand, resigned last July to attend graduate school.
Both towns decided to save money and not rehire for the position during budget time. Tryon has since named fire chief Joey Davis as the town’s building inspector, health officer, zoning administrator and code enforcement officer.
Polk County decided to allocate funds to hire a new economic development director in next year’s budget, which begins July 1.
Traber says his time so far in Columbus has been spent looking into possible downtown renovations, historical designations, zoning matters and code enforcement.
“I’m trying to initiate new projects that will improve the life and vitality of the downtown area,” Traber said.
Traber also said since Columbus is the county seat, he hopes to integrate the town into Polk County’s newly organized economic development commission’s efforts to help strengthen Columbus’ tax base and tourism.
Traber said he wants to rejuvenate Columbus’ former downtown merchants association.
“I love the job and the people,” Traber said, “and am hoping we can get everybody to work together.”
Town officials say they are pleased with their decision to hire a part-time planner and Traber fits the town’s needs.
“Larry is doing a tremendous job for us so far,” said Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe. “As a semi-retired architect, he has a wealth of experience from both a land planning and design perspective and has really helped us develop some good projects that are also feasible.”
Kanipe also said Traber is handling the regular business of zoning permits and zoning ordinance interpretation and is doing a great job with that as well.
Traber is in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays and also works with the town’s planning board.

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