Grove City Council is expected to meet as scheduled as Ohio navigates through COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak but council members and residents will be asked to participate remotely.

"We'll be using the Cisco Webex video conferencing system so that all members of council will be on the call and people will be able to see them on a screen," council president Christine Houk said.

Council members held a test run of the system on March 25 and will be using Facebook Live to facilitate public participation in meetings, she said.

"The public will be able to submit their name, address and any questions or comments in real time as we move through the meeting," Houk said.

"Similar to a regular meeting, for each agenda item we will ask for questions or comments from the public. Submitted items will be read for the record" by clerk of council Tami Kelly, she said.

"Things will move a little slower than usual, but we'll ask people to be a little patient as we work through the meeting," Houk said. "The main thing was we wanted to find a way to conduct the meeting remotely, but still provide the public with access and the right to participate in the meeting."

House Bill 197 passed by the Ohio General Assembly on March 25, permits use of teleconference, video conference or electronic technology for meetings during the period of emergency Gov. Mike DeWine issued on March 9, Houk said. Remote meetings cannot be held beyond Dec. 1 if the period of the emergency continues beyond that date.

The original plan for the March 16 Grove City meeting was to hold it in council chambers, but ask members of the public to not attend the session in person and watch the live stream on the city's website, Houk said.

"They would have been able to submit questions after the meeting, which wasn't the best set-up," she said.

Each council meeting is live streamed at grovecityohio.gov, and having that already in place has helped facilitate the planning for future meetings, she said.

The meeting videos are also permanently archived on the city's website.

Council's March 16 meeting was postponed that day, she said.

"Before we acted to cancel the meeting, I checked with the law director and city attorney to make sure there wasn't anything on the agenda that would be held up or hindered by a delay and there wasn't, so we moved to put the postponement in place," Houk said.

The virtual plan was in place for council's April 6 meeting and is scheduled for the next meeting, set for 7 p.m. April 20.

The coronavirus outbreak led to the cancellation of the planning commission meeting scheduled for April 7.

"We know there are some contractors in a holding pattern right now who aren't doing any work," Mayor Richard "Ike"' Stage said.

That is having an impact on the pace of applications for the city's development department and the planning commission, he said.

With the state's stay-at-home order in place, all Grove City buildings are temporarily closed to the public and city staff have the option to work from home when possible, Stage said.

Building and zoning department inspectors will be able to use their laptop computers to conduct "virtual inspections," he said.

For example, if a plumber is going to put in a hot-water tank at a residence, the plumber could take a picture with his or her cellphone that the inspector could view remotely to determine if a permit could be approved to allow the work to be done as planned, Stage said.

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