The Canal Winchester Times

Streamlined city processes eyed to aid developers in Groveport

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Groveport officials are "changing how they do business" to make sure the city remains a competitive and attractive community for business relocation and growth.

City Administrator Marsha Hall, Finance Director Jeff Green and Chief Building Officer Stephen Moore made a presentation to city council last week about changes to staffing, city regulations and processes they want to implement this year.

The long-term goal, according to Moore, is to continue to attract new development.

"Development is bursting at the seams," he said. "The economy has made that turn. Everyone I talk to is in the same situation. There's a lot happening and we're basically at full occupancy so we want to make sure we can make things happen here."

According to Green, pressure "is rapidly heating up" for development.

"We've always followed the state guidelines for getting things done, but those don't always mesh with how companies actually do business," he said. "We've met with area developers and real estate brokers to understand how we do permit approvals and other processes."

Green said hiring an in-house engineer and having a dedicated building plan examiner can cut the city's turnaround time for new and redevelopment plans in half, from 30 days to 14 days.

"A lot of the time, we're dealing with executives from out of state and they just need to get things done so they can get products shipping," he said. "It's about making our processes tighter because it all comes down to customer service."

According to Moore, right now businesses that have a building in place to move into say Groveport is the place to be. However, he added, the rezoning and development process is currently too time-consuming.

Moore said the group is looking through planning and zoning documents to determine regulations that are too restrictive, or that do not work well for smaller businesses because they were intended for big-box companies but are not explicitly written that way.

He also expressed a desire to streamline how the departments work together.

"With (City Engineer Steve Farst) coming on board, we'll be able to take in the site plans and fees directly, but those then have to go through the finance department before we can start work, and sometimes that can take a week to clear," Moore said. "We're all trying to approach it on a positive side and see what we can make better."

Green said the group will continue meeting with area businesses to come up with ways to make the process better.

"We're meeting with both industrial companies and small downtown businesses to come up with a single development handbook, documenting what our expectations and requirements are, and how we can work with them," Green said.

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