The Engineering Department is comprised of three divisions that are jointly operated and managed as part of the City’s Engineering Department:
1) Traffic Engineering
2) Code Enforcement
3 )Building and Project Inspection
The Engineering Department is responsible for working with engineers, architects, developers and contractors by providing engineering design standards and inspections for projects within the city limits.
Areas of Responsibility:
1. Manufacture and maintain traffic regulatory, warning, guide and special message signs on city property or in the city right-of-way.
2. Maintain traffic control devices at 24 signalized intersections.
3. Maintain roadway lighting for non-AEP lighting areas in the city limits.
4. Maintain street striping and pavement markings.
The City of Van Wert operates in compliance with hundreds of written codes that are designed to maintain a healthy, safe and clean environment, carry out land use policy and preserve the quality-of-life standards that residents and businesses enjoy in our community.
There are many types of codes: City Codes, including Zoning Codes, Fire Codes, Uniform Building Codes, Uniform Housing Codes, Vehicle Codes and Penal Codes.
Code enforcement is a responsibility shared by many City departments. To be effective and efficient, code enforcement also needs the cooperation of residents and businesses.
Because there are so many codes—many involving complex technical or legal issues—residents frequently have questions about code enforcement and their role in making Van Wert a better place to live and work. The following information will answer the most frequently asked questions about code enforcement in our community.
Did you know?
The following are violations if visible from a street or public alley:
• Junk, trash, litter, boxes discarded lumber or salvage materials.
• Cars that are wrecked, taken apart, or inoperable (unless stored or parked lawfully and fenced in connection with the business of alicensed dismantler or licensed vehicle dealer)
• Vehicle parts that are discarded or left in a state of partial construction or repair.
• Broken or discarded furniture, household equipment or furnishings.
• Dead, decayed, diseased or otherwise hazardous trees or vegetation.
• Grass that is more than 6 inches high.
• Graffiti on a building, fence or other structure
• Articles of personal property that are discarded or left in a state of partial construction or repair.
• Utility trailers or unmounted camper tops in the front yard (unless in the driveway)
• Campers or trailers parked on a public right-of-way. It is a violation to use a camper on any property in the city as a household dwelling.
How are codes enforced?
The code enforcement process is typically initiated in several ways:
1. in response to a compliant by an individual;
2. observation of a code violation by City staff as they patrol the community and do their jobs;
3. as a consequence of an action (for example, an application for a building permit or a request for a zoning variance.
The City relies on residents to help identify possible code violations, particularly in these areas:
• Front yard storage
• Illegal signs, such as advertising flyers
• Graffiti on public or private property
• Illegal dumping of garbage and debris
• Abandoned and/or inoperable vehicles
• Overgrown foliage blocking stop signs, impeding sight of driveways or making corners dangerous
• Parking regulations in residential neighborhoods
How can you notify the City about a possible code violation?
You may file a complaint about a possible code violation in person, in writing, by phone or email. In an average year, the City receives several hundred complaints related to possible code enforcement violations.
Please be prepared with specific information, such as:
• the address of the property,
• detailed description of the situation, and
• the length of time you have observed the situation.
You do not have to identify yourself, but having your name will assist us with follow-up and ensure we have all the information we need to resolve the situation.
What is the procedure for following up on possible code violations?
City staff responds to code enforcement complaints according to the impact of the violation on the community. Situations that appear to pose a serious risk to health and safety are given top priority; others are pursued in the order in which they are received.
For all types of code complaints, the first step in the follow-up procedure is personal contact by a City staff member to see if a code violation exists and to request compliance. If the individual responsible for the situation is not available or appears unwilling to voluntarily correct the code violation in a timely manner, a notice of violation or a citation may be issued. The City may also take court action if the situation poses a significant risk to the community or if the individual has ignored previous notices/citations.
What penalties result from code violations?
In many cases, the individual responsible for the code violation is given the opportunity to voluntarily correct the situation and comply with current codes without a penalty. If the correction is not made, then the individual may be subject to fines and other penalties.
All City Code violations are infractions or misdemeanors. For some serious code violations, usually involving major and immediate health of safety issues, criminal prosecution or civil injunctions may be used by the City to enforce code compliance.
Code Enforcement Contact Information:
City of Van Wert
515 East Main Street
Van Wert Ohio 45891
Phone # 419-238-5775
Steps in the enforcement of code violations
1. Property owners with potential infractions will first be notified of the situation by code enforcement personnel by talking with the resident and leaving a door hanger. The hanger will explain the nature of the violation and request a call from the property owner if no one is home to explain the violation too.
2. If no action is taken to resolve the violation the property owner will be sent a certified letter or receive the letter from an officer of the city. The letter will state the infraction and the time frame allowed for voluntary compliance.
3. After the stated time allowance the city will cause the violation to be removed resulting in a charge to be assessed to the property owner.
Examples of costs associated with violations where City personnel must assess property owners a clean-up charge include:
• Any property owner in violation of having junk or rubbish on their property will be notified and given (5) days to make corrections to the situation. After the (5) day period is over if the situation must be corrected by the city the property owner will be charged $300.00 for the first hour of labor and $100.00 per hour for each additional hour thereafter.
• Any property owner in violation of having weeds, grasses or vegetation in violation of city ordinances will have (5) days following receipt of written notification to voluntarily repair the situation. If the city has to take action charges will be assessed the property owner at the rate of $200.00 for the first hour and $100.00 for each hour thereafter.
• Any property owner in violation of having a vehicle which is defined as being not capable of being driven for over a continuous period of 10 days will receive notification of the infraction. If after (10) days from notification the vehicle has not been removed the city shall remove the vehicle and the cost will be assessed the property owner.
Building and Project Inspection
The Building Inspector interprets, administers and enforces the City Building Code and Plumbing Code. The primary objective of the Building Official is to work with citizens, business owners, contractors, etc. to help them understand the importance of building codes and to help them incorporate the Code Provisions into their respective building projects.
Examples of projects for which Building Permits are required include all buildings and structures erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, etc. Building permit fees are based on the valuation of the project. When undertaking a project within the City that requires a Building Permit, please set aside some time at the beginning of your project to meet with the City’s Building Official, in the end, you’ll be glad that you did.
Examples of commonly asked questions relative to building codes, building inspection and building permits are listed in the following:
• For what types of building projects do I need to get a building permit?
• How and where do I obtain a building permit?
• What information do I need to provide to the building official in order to obtain a building permit?
• How much will the building permit cost?
• What are the consequences of starting and/or finishing my project before obtaining a building permit?
• What services will I receive from the City Building Inspector as a result of obtaining a building permit?
• Do I need to obtain a building permit if my building project is outside of the city limits?
These questions and others can be answered by contacting the Building Inspector.