Last week, the city of Upper Arlington held its first meeting at the Municipal Services Center since closing the building to the public March 16 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Although the city's headquarters at 3600 Tremont Road was reopened for "limited customer services operations" the first week of June, according to Emma Speight, community-affairs director, the June 15 meeting of the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning represented the first meeting held in the building since the shutdown.

Those attending the meeting -- including BZAP members, city staff, applicants to discuss proposed projects before BZAP and other meeting attendees -- were required to wear face masks.

A number of seats also were removed from council chambers to allow all present to maintain 6-foot distancing.

Additionally, areas were roped off and signs were posted, directing guests to enter and exit through separate doors.

"We have increased cleaning and disinfection procedures for all common areas," Speight said. "Signs are up at our entrances, notifying visitors to the MSC that they are required to put on a face covering before entering the building and to follow appropriate social distancing when in our facility."

During the shutdown, the public was permitted in the MSC for business with the police department; however, other departments were closed and conducted business online and over the phone.

Public meetings were being held remotely via Zoom video conferencing.

Speight said the city is following Gov. Mike DeWine's "Responsible RestartOhio" guidelines in an effort to follow best health and safety practices.

"Through this experience, we have found that many of staff can work productively from home and many of our services can continue, but we recognize that some of our customers prefer or need in-person interactions, and we have developed a reopening approach that provides a safe office environment with a limited number of staff onsite, and that meets customer needs," she said. "We currently have the main customer service desk open (Finance and Community Development), and mayor's court has resumed.

"All other offices remain closed, and we are asking residents to conduct business online or make appointments before they come in whenever possible."

Speight said the city will determine whether future meetings will be held at the MSC or via video conferencing on a case-by-case basis.

Decisions on how and where the meetings will be conducted, as well as related details and agendas for the meetings, will be posted on the city's website, upperarlingtonoh.gov.

That includes City Council, which has continued to hold meetings via video conference.

Speight said a decision as to when council will resume meetings at the MSC "likely will occur in early August."

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