Living out his dream as a city planner, Ian Zollinger hopes to bring more planning and zoning education to the Jefferson City community.
Zollinger joined the city's Department of Planning and Protective Services a couple of months ago as a planner 1, working on a variety of city plans and zoning cases.
He also creates a variety of maps for plans, cases and city committees or commissions. He currently is working on maps for the Historic Southside/Old Munichburg District and Neighborhood Plan implementation.
"I know it sounds kind of geeky, but it's so much fun and really interesting," Zollinger said. "It's kind of funny because when I was a little boy, I loved making maps, drawing where things were. I told my brothers one day, 'Hey, I want to be a mapper when I grow up.' They said it was stupid because the whole world has been mapped already and there's no need for mappers, but I proved them wrong."
Zollinger said he knew he wanted to be involved with government at a young age but did not know how to turn his passion into a job until he was in college. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Idaho with a degree in political science with an emphasis in geographic information system.
Before moving to Jefferson City with his wife and infant daughter, Zollinger served as a planner for Jefferson County in Idaho. While there, he not only worked as a planner but also helped with a variety of topics and served in several roles, such as a planning administrator.
He said the different roles helped prepare him for the wide range of plans and cases he will hear in Jefferson City.
Zollinger said he was interested in Jefferson City's Southside plan and improvements to East Capitol Avenue, along with other long-term goals lined out in the city's Comprehensive Plan.
One of his goals moving forward is to better educate the public regarding the city's zoning code. While the code can be confusing to residents, he said, he hopes residents will show an increased interest in planning and zoning.
This heightened interest could translate into community involvement as residents might feel more encouraged to participate in planning and zoning actions, even if it is difficult or complicated.
"I feel like people may feel like they're powerless to do anything when it comes to local government and the bureaucracy that exists and people don't understand why we just can't do something because of the zoning code," he said. "I understand there are things in the zoning code or legal issues and things that may prevent some developments but that doesn't mean that you should not try it. Try to do something about it or encourage citizens to do something about it. It can be a lot of work, but that doesn't mean that if there's a lot of work that we should not do it."