Grove City College students are taking a closer look at residential properties in Grove City.
Dr. Michael Coulter’s public policy class took on a housing stock project, studying more than 2,000 properties in the borough.
Coulter approached the borough about the project, which can help identify potential blight and organize data about Grove City’s homes, Taylor Pokrant, the borough’s zoning and code enforcement officer, said at Monday night’s council meeting.
Pokrant worked with the students on creating a scale based on the International Property Maintenance Code.
The ratings go from 0 to 5, with “0” meaning that the students were unable to evaluate the property because of overgrown vegetation, the home was too far from the street line, or the lot was vacant.
A rating of “1” is “extremely poor” – the home has at least one of these issues: the foundation is severely damaged; the entry would prevent someone from safely accessing the home; or the exterior walls or roof are severely damaged.
A “2” rating is “poor” – the foundation has some damage; the entry is damaged or missing components; paint is significantly peeling or siding is missing.
A “3” rating is “fair” – the home would have at least two of these issues: high grass, accumulation of junk, some peeling paint, a junk vehicle, or vegetation growth on the home.
A “4” rating is “good” – the home would have at least one of these problems: minor peeling paint, incomplete or limited landscaping, or minor accumulation of outdoor materials or junk.
A “5” rating is “excellent” – the home doesn’t have peeling paint or junk, landscaping is adequate, and the house number is clearly marked.
Pokrant helped create a phone app for the students to use while they stopped at each property to perform quick exterior evaluations.
“They went around block to block,” he said, noting that they input the results through the app.
The students did not have the names of the homeowners or residents, and the evaluations were done from the street or sidewalk.
The only information made available to them was the tax parcel number and house number, Pokrant said.
The class had a list of 2,478 residential properties, and the number “4” rating was the most common, said student Tyler Gustafson.
There were 422 properties with the “0” rating; 20 with rating 1; 78 with rating 2; 406 with rating 3; 792 with rating 4; and 639 with rating 5.
The information was also organized by ward; Grove City has five. Most of the properties in wards 1, 2, 4 and 5 had ratings of “4” and “5.”
The majority of Ward 3 properties were rated “0,” “3” and “4.”
Pokrant hopes that the data shows if blight conditions seem to be higher in neighborhoods close to certain zoning areas.
“I think this is very beneficial,” said George Pokrant, council president.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, council members:
• Approved ordinance 1467, which sets the property tax rates for 2020 at 4.5 mills; that’s an increase of a half-mill.
• Set the meeting dates for 2020: all council meetings will be held at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the borough building, 123 W. Main St., with the exception of the January meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 23.
The annual reorganization meeting is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 6.
• Approved the findings of fact and conclusion of law in relation to a public nuisance violation at 309 Gilmore Ave.
That decision means that Taylor Pokrant can enter into a contract with a removal company on behalf of the borough to remove certain items from the home of Melody Brown, said solicitor Tim Bonner.
Some of those items go from the floor to the ceiling, which prohibits a normal and safe movement through the home, Bonner said.
The removal will take three or four days, during which Brown must vacate the property. The items will be sent to a storage facility for one year, and Pokrant will have the keys.
Brown can meet with him at the storage unit once a month if she needs to retrieve something.
She has to let the borough know by Friday what storage facility she’ll use and provide a copy of the contract, Bonner said.
Brown will be billed for the removal company, and Pokrant will inspect her home throughout the year.
There could be further legal action if she fails to comply, Bonner said, noting that the borough has been trying to work with her since 2013.
A public hearing was recently held, and Brown acknowledged that there are safety issues on her property, he said.