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Columbus, OH 43215


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Mayor Ginther Signs Executive Order Allowing Boards, Panels and Commissions to Conduct Virtual Meetings

[COLUMBUS, OH] For the past two months, boards, panels and commissions responsible for the review of plans and applications for development projects have been unable to meet due of the COVID-19 outbreak. Mayor Andrew J. Ginther today signed an Executive Order, aligned with the recently amended Ohio Revised Code, which temporarily allows the groups to convene web-based meetings. The groups are supported by the departments of Building and Zoning Services, Development and Neighborhoods. These departments will continue to work with the City Attorney’s office and Department of Technology in undertaking this work.

"Columbus relies on the work of commissions, boards, and panels to provide input, serve as public forums, and make decisions regarding city business," said Mayor Ginther. "In order to keep their important work moving forward, we need to allow for new ways of meeting while maintaining social distance."

Allowing for the important work of these commissions, boards and panels to continue in a manner that safeguards our volunteers, staff, applicants and interested public is a priority. There are approximately 140 development applications currently pending before these bodies. Those include proposals such as:

• Scioto Peninsula Project

• 60 unit affordable housing project

• $128 million state behavioral health hospital on West Broad

• Hilltop Early Childhood Learning Center

• After school facility for at risk youth

• Mixed-use redevelopment of a former Neil Avenue Giant Eagle site

The departments of Development and Building and Zoning Services support commissions and panels, such as the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Historic Resources Commission, which have decision-making authority, conduct formal hearings, and work with highly detailed proposals. City staff will host meetings for these groups using WebEx video conferencing. Agendas and case materials will be posted to commission websites prior to meetings.

"The feedback of Area Commissions is invaluable to City Council. Which is why providing the necessary tech support to ensure that all of our Commissions can continue to do their vital work safely is a top priority for both the Mayor and City Council,” said Councilmember Rob Dorans. “Due to the current crisis, we know Commissioners are being asked to change the way they do business. And yet, I believe these leaders will rise to the challenge and continue to serve Columbus well."

The Department of Neighborhoods support the city’s 21 area commissions, which serve in an advisory capacity. Neighborhoods staff will provide support by hosting conference calls via WebEx, confer with commission chairs ahead of the meeting to review agenda, meeting logistics and anticipated presentations, and posting meeting materials. City staff are working to start the online meetings this month. This effort is being undertaken in consultation with the City Attorney and support of the Department. Meetings are open to the public. Information about how to access the meetings and provide input will be provided with announcements or can be obtained by contacting staff.