Boardman zoning to launch new online records system


Published: Sat, September 23, 2017 @ 12:02 a.m.

By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

The township soon will be rolling out a new program officials say will make the zoning department more transparent and accessible to the public.

Township trustees earlier this month approved the purchase of MyGov, an online system through which members of the public will have access to zoning records.

The system also will streamline much of the zoning office’s work. Currently, the department operates almost entirely by pen and paper.

“Right now, we’re literally writing down a complaint, putting it in an Excel file, then putting it in a drawer,” said Krista Beniston, director of zoning and development. “It’s very antiquated.”

Since zoning department staff soon will be using a more streamlined system rather than pen and paper, use of the software will allow the department to spend more time on other work, Beniston said.

“It’ll make staff time way, way more efficient,” she said. “It’ll have such a huge impact on what we’ll be able to get done.”

For example, the zoning department’s code enforcement for township properties now is complaint-driven. Beniston would like the office to be more proactive about inspecting properties, and hopes in the coming years to go out and inspect every house in the township.

She also would like to devote more staff time to planning, beginning with a community outreach effort to get residents’ input on where they want to see the township head in the future. Zoning staff will then create a comprehensive community plan.

“This will give us more time to be proactive and do planning and get the community involved,” Beniston said.

She also noted the new system will give the zoning office more data it can use to be more strategic in its work. For example, while the zoning office knows how many high-grass complaints it gets each year, it will now be able to map out where the complaints are coming from.

Most importantly, she said, the new MyGov system will make the zoning department’s work more transparent and convenient for residents and businesses.

Business owners will be able to submit permit materials online. Rather than having to make repeated calls to the zoning office, residents will be able to search properties by name or address, or on a map, to see what the township has done in response to complaints.

Beniston said people looking to invest in the community will get step-by-step guidance through the process, with instructions on what paperwork they need to submit to the township.

“It’ll give people a lot more power and, I think, comfort with the process,” she said.

The system will be accessible via a link on the township’s website. MyGov users will see modules for permits and inspections, code enforcement, online GIS and a request tracker.

Trustees approved the purchase of MyGov, at a cost of $29,920 (plus an annual maintenance fee of $19,200). Beniston said the department hopes to implement the system in early October, then will be doing some community outreach to familiarize the public with the program. Officials hope to have the system up and running by year’s end.


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