By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

City Planner David Mitchell has found a home in Harker Heights.

And it's a different setting from the woods he originally expected to be in at this point in his career.

As the city's planner, Mitchell, 34, is involved in platting and zoning of the city's developments. Mitchell works with City Manager Steve Carpenter, performing various tasks and assignments as well.

Mitchell said his work with the city requires him to take on a variety of roles, because unlike larger cities such as Killeen, the smaller operating budget means city staff members have to work outside their specialty.

But Mitchell said he enjoys the challenge, which is one reason he pursued a master's degree in public administration. He received the degree in December from the University of Texas at Arlington.

"I am very involved in planning, but it's hard to nail down exactly," Mitchell said of his job, which he's had for about three years. "He (Carpenter) has incorporated me into more administrative duties, so he's allowed me to get some different opportunities in different areas which I greatly appreciate."

One of Mitchell's proudest accomplishments was the development of the city's new GIS (Geographical Information System) technology.

The system, which went online in November, allows developers and residents alike to look at the city's zoning layout and provides detailed information for every property in the city, including flood plains and zoning types.

"I think we've come a long way," Mitchell said. "We have a ways to go. We're still revising that and trying to make it even more user-friendly than it already is."

Mitchell also has been involved in the update of the city's comprehensive plan, which the City Council passed at the beginning of January. It was the culmination of several years of work by the entire staff.

Before coming to Harker Heights, Mitchell planned a career based on his love of the outdoors.

He graduated from Auburn University in 1995 with a degree in forestry.

But because of downsizing the American Forestry Service has undergone in recent years and the market decline of timber, Mitchell decided to change paths.

"I didn't realize I would enjoy working for the city like I have," Mitchell said. "Everything just sort of fell into place for me."

Away from work, Mitchell spends time with his wife, Angie, and their three children, Jacob, 8, and twin 3-year-old boys, Austin and Jared.

"They're good kids," Mitchell said. "They love sports, and they love the outdoors. They fit in with their dad well."

He said he takes the family camping and fishing to get away from the hassles of the every day grind.

"I spend a lot of time outdoors," Mitchell said. "We have a ranch up in Brown County, and we spend a lot of time up there. We spend a lot of time hunting, but the boys like to do anything outdoors. It doesn't matter what it is."

Contact Justin Cox at jcox@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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