Metropolitan development director gains deputy

The director of Indianapolis’ beleaguered Department of Metropolitan Development has a second-in-command for the first time in a decade.

Jeff Roeder, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Greg Ballard, is now deputy director of the department, which saw two of its employees indicted on May 21.

The move had been planned for months and took effect the week before the indictments, which revolve around an alleged kickback scheme and the Indy Land Bank, Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said.

Lotter said Roeder will serve as a right hand to DMD Director Adam Thies, who was hired last fall. “He wants to overhaul a lot of rules and regulations and policies and the way DMD does things,” Lotter said.

The department has been without a deputy director since 2002, when former Mayor Bart Peterson eliminated the position because of budget reductions, DMD spokesman John Bartholomew said.  Subject to further budget cuts over the last five years, the department has 83 positions on its books, but eight are vacant. That includes two that were held by former land bank director Reggie Walton and project administrator John Hawkins, both of whom were fired after their indictments.

In an effort dubbed Indy Rezone, the department is trying to come up with the first comprehensive overhaul of zoning regulations since 1969 by March of 2014. Apart from the Indy Land Bank scandal, Ballard’s office has pushed for legislation that would make it easier for municipalities and private not-for-profit organizations to set up land banks, which can acquire county surplus property at below-market prices.

Roeder tracked the land bank legislation, which failed in the last session, for the mayor’s office, Lotter said.

David Rosenberg, director of enterprise development, will pick up most of Roeder’s former duties, including communication with the City-County Council, Lotter said. Roeder was one of several on Ballard’s staff who received raises last spring. His pay rose from $65,000 to $70,000.

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