No reason to fear building department, city leader says
Although many residents may be apprehensive about submitting an application for a home improvement project, Grandview Heights has begun an initiative to remind applicants its building department is ready to assist them, not hinder them.
"We want people to think of us as a resource to help them find the right design," said B.J. Artrup, the city's director of building and zoning.
"A good design is a successful project, meaning that it stays within their budget and makes them happy," Artrup said. "It improves people's quality of life for themselves, for their neighbors and for our community.
"We want to help them," he said.
As residents begin to plan their proposed improvement, "the earlier they come to us, the more efficient process it can be," department secretary Gayna Gilbert said.
The city can help a homeowner understand what concepts will be more likely to gain approval, saving them time and money and making the process for getting their drawings and permits approved much easier, she said.
Because Grandview is a small community, it's easier for the building department to work with and assist residents than in a larger city such as Columbus, or even Dublin or Westerville, Artrup said.
"We want to help them figure out what is most effective and workable for their home" using the city's design guidelines, he said.
Although the design guidelines are reflected in city code, "the language is not strictly regulatory," Gilbert said. "It's not, 'you must do this.' They are just guidelines."
The building department and Board of Zoning Appeals consider applications, keeping the guidelines in mind, she said.
"The important thing is that your improvements or additions reflect the context of your neighborhood and community," Artrup said.
Grandview has a number of distinctive housing styles, but does not require homeowners' plans to be historically representative, he said.
"We have flexibility," Artrup said. "There is a younger population moving into our community with more openness."
Some modern concepts, such as family rooms or second bathrooms, were not around when many of Grandview's homes were built, Gilbert said.
As homeowners begin planning their projects, they are invited to contact the building and zoning department at 614-481-6220 to set up an appointment, she said.