Hilliard City Council has granted City Manager Michelle Crandall emergency powers related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has ushered in sweeping actions statewide in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.

Council on March 16 voted unanimously to name Crandall as acting emergency-management director and vested her with the power to suspend or amend sections of the city code as necessary.

On March 17 and 18, she signed eight temporary orders, which included:

* Allowing restaurants in the Old Hilliard Zoning District to create temporary parking spots for carryout orders.

* Allowing businesses to use banner or sandwich-board signs.

* Prohibiting new permits for peddling, soliciting or conducting market research door-to-door and suspending previously issued permits.

* Establishing a COVID-19 leave-of-absence policy for city employees.

* Postponing all Hilliard Mayor's Court cases until May 13.

"The coronavirus situation is quickly evolving, and it is important that the city be able to act and react quickly and nimbly," council President Andy Teater said after the March 16 emergency meeting. Teater also is the city's ceremonial mayor.

Earlier in the day, Teater had a declaration of emergency, pursuant to section 2.14 of the city charter, according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

The title of an emergency-management director, when necessary, may be delegated to a designated individual, Ball said.

In this instance, it will be Crandall, he said.

"This will allow the city to respond quickly to emerging needs, issues and opportunities in the coming weeks,' Ball said. "These temporary modifications will be communicated on the city's website and other communication channels, as appropriate."

The resolution granting Crandall emergency powers does not have a sunset, a fact that was called to attention by council member Omar Tarazi, who suggested language be added to establish a specific date or to align when Ohio ended a state of emergency, but Teater replied he was "comfortable" with the resolution as presented, and it "would be used properly."

"This legislation is a logical and necessary step to empower the city manager to make certain temporary changes to code that are in the best interest of our community without waiting for the next council meeting or scheduling an emergency meeting," Teater said.

However, Crandall and Teater indicated future action would be taken, when appropriate, to declare an end to the citywide emergency.

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