A property-inspection blitz in Grove City is expected to be completed by mid-March.

But the benefits of Operation Clean Sweep extend beyond identifying property-maintenance issues in the city.

The geographic-information-system framework the city's IT staff created for the inspection project also could be used to more quickly identify the properties that have been damaged in case of a tornado or other disaster, zoning director Mike Boso said.

Boso and other city officials presented an overview of Operation Clean Sweep at the March 2 City Council meeting.

Operation Clean Sweep, which began Feb. 11, involves four teams of two inspectors fanning out to inspect each of the 15,192 properties in Grove City.

"We estimated when we started that it would take about 30 days" to complete the task, Boso said.

The inspectors are plotting each property as it is inspected by using the map of Grove City on the city's internal GIS website, he said.

The GIS technology provides an easy way for the inspectors to collect and catalog data -- including indications of which properties have not been inspected and the parcels where there were no issues, some issues or critical issues that need to be addressed, Boso said. It also shows where violation notices have been sent.

"We're tracking as we go through the process where (the properties) are in the process," he said.

By the beginning of March, approximately 210 violations had been found with about 4,000 parcels left to inspect, property-maintenance inspector Jed Plank said.

"We're primarily finding damaged siding, inoperable vehicles, damaged gutters and driveways, and accumulation of rubbish and debris," Plank said.

Photographs are taken of each violation, and when necessary, a notice of the violation is sent to the property owner or occupant, he said.

Four violations that were deemed critical had been found by the beginning of March, including electrical issues at commercial properties and an issue at a home-based business where a vehicle was parked through the right of way blocking the sidewalk, Plank said.

All of the inspections are conducted from the right of way, he said.

"There's no access to private property or to the rear of a building," Plank said.

The majority of the inspections are being done from a vehicle, Boso said.

The GIS mapping system designed for the inspection program provides a dashboard with data regarding the status of each property that can be accessed and edited from the web, a cellphone or anything with an internet-connected device, said Nick Soltes, the city's GIS administrator.

As they have been completing their inspections, the building inspectors have been using pictures and comments to indicate where issues have been found, he said.

"Then when they get back to the office, they use the nicer desktop interface to kind of sweep through and (mark on the map) all of the ones that have no issues," Soltes said.

The dashboard allows a supervisor like Boso to see the overall status of each property, he said.

"This is also a practice for if there is ever a weather or some other type of incident in the city where we need to quickly deploy personnel out to do property inspections," Soltes said. "Not only are we getting the benefit of property status updates, we're also getting some good practice in case it's needed for some other purpose."

During a disaster event, the system would display the property inspections as they are taking place and indicate where damage has occurred, Boso said.

The city used a similar program when a tornado struck the city in April 2018, but the GIS program developed for Operation Clean Sweep is more enhanced, he said.

The inspection blitz is not being conducted as a punitive exercise, Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said.

The city will forward some of the issues for inclusion in the slate of community-service projects to be completed May 19 as part of the annual ACTS (Active Christians Serving Together) in Grove City program, he said. The program coordinates a day of service among area churches in which hundreds of volunteers complete tasks for those in need in Grove City and other southwest Franklin County communities.

Property owners who receive violation notices are given a deadline for taking care of the issue, Boso said.

The deadline depends on the type of issue. In some cases, property owners may have difficulty getting an issue resolved because they are senior citizens, ill or injured or are having financial difficulties.

"We'll work with them, and if they do need to get help, we'll try to get them help," Boso said.

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