Now that winter is showing signs of relenting, Grandview Heights is ready to begin its annual inspection of sidewalks and residential properties.
"We'll be getting started with our sidewalk inspections this month, weather permitting," said Ron Ayers, residential building inspector and code enforcement officer.
The sidewalk program addresses one section of the city each year on a rotating basis, Ayers said.
This year the city will focus on properties from Glenn Avenue to Ashland Avenue.
Since January, Ayers has been joined in his effort to find and notify residents about violations of the city's residential housing code by Anita Williams, the new part-time property maintenance inspector.
Williams' primary focus is on sidewalks and properties, Ayers said.
Having Williams on board allows Ayers to focus primarily on building inspections and reviewing plans for housing improvements or additions, Director of Building and Zoning B.J. Artrup said.
The additional position will help the city be more vigilant in finding housing code violations, he said.
"It's all about maintaining the exceptional property values and stock of housing we have in our community," Ayers said.
While a specific area is targeted each year for the inspection program, "you're constantly looking" for potential violations no matter what task is being completed, he said.
"If I'm out looking at an addition to a house, I may see a problem in the rear section of a neighbor's property that you can't see from the street," Ayers said.
Much of the work he and Williams do "is complaint-driven," he said.
Members of the city's sanitation crew also look for potential problems while they are working and notify him if they spot something, Ayers said.
Last year, about 400 violations were found in the community, Artrup said. In some cases, a property had multiple violations.
"We try the personal approach first" and attempt to contact property owners about the violations on their properties, he said.
If no one is at home, a door hanger is left giving notification a violation has been found, Artrup said.
Residents have various ranges of time to resolve the matter, depending on the seriousness of the problem, Ayers said.
The city may give a person a week to resolve a nuisance trash issue, while a more-serious structural problem will have a 60- to 90-day deadline, he said.
Failure to take care of a violation can lead to a date in Mayor's Court to face a third-degree misdemeanor charge and potential penalties of a $500 fine and/or 30 to 60 days in jail, Ayers said.
But the main goal is to let people know about a problem and help them find a solution, Artrup said.
"Compliance is education," he said. "Often, people don't know about the problem or that they are in violation," especially if they are new to the area.
More than 75 percent of the violations found last year have been or are in the process of being resolved by property owners, Artrup said.
Williams said she finds people often are appreciative about being notified of a problem.
Recently, she was leaving a door hanger at a residence when the homeowners drove up.
The husband said he had forgotten about the matter, and his wife gave him a nudge and said, "See, I told you," Williams recalled.
"It was like the ultimate honey-do list," she said.