Business Area Analysis for
City of Monessen, Pennsylvania
Department of Public Safety
Date: June 1, 1999
The purpose of this document is to capture the results of the analysis of a business area. This
information is a critical prerequisite to the establishment of a strategy for a business area that
defines requirements and articulates the means for implementing a business solution that meets
The Business Area Analysis Document consists of the following sections:
• Business Overview
• Project Definition
• Data/Subject Areas
• Issues & Considerations
Date(s) of BAA:
The Department of Public Safety conducts zoning and land use planning within the city of
Monessen, Pennsylvania. The department’s primary responsibilities include the following: a)
regulating the use of land and the location, use, and density of buildings within the city; b)
providing for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the city’s zoning
ordinances; c) permitting, prohibiting, regulating and determining the uses of land, watercourses
and other bodies of water--the size, height, bulk, location, erection, construction, repair,
maintenance, alteration, razing, removal and use of structures; the areas and dimensions of land
and bodies of water to be occupied by uses and structures; the areas, courts, yards and other open
spaces and distances to be left unoccupied by uses and structures; d) establishing the maximum
density and intensity of development; and e) establishing provisions for special exceptions and
variances to be administered by a Zoning Hearing Board.
Department of Public Safety
The Department of Public Safety consists of two full-time code enforcement officers
employed by the municipality. The department primarily exists to provide a range of
services to the city, its citizens, business owners, guests, and administration. These services
include a number of related regulatory functions as well as planning and advising.
From a regulatory standpoint, the office represents the city of Monessen, its ordinances,
citizens, and council when interacting with the public and/or potential occupants. The most
crucial role it plays is enforcing the city’s zoning and land use codes and ordinances. This
is accomplished in a variety of ways, including:
• Occupancy inspections and issuance of occupancy permits
• Tracking properties in violation of codes/ordinances and contacting the appropriate
• Responding to citizen complaints via telephone or in person
• Keeping Director of Public Safety, City Manager, Mayor, and rest of council informed
by weekly department summary reports
• Preparing and issuing various permits such as demolition, health, building, and
• Issuing citations to property owners in violation of city codes/ordinances
In order to respond to these efforts in a timely and professional manner, it is important that
the necessary information is readily available and accurate. Information pertaining to
various codes, property owners, businesses, and land uses of the city need to be accurate,
easily accessible, and updateable. Collecting and maintaining this information is resource-
intensive. It is also essential, so any improvement in the efficacy and efficiency of this
process directly benefits the core mission of the office.
There is considerable untapped potential for information technology to increase the
efficiency and accuracy of record keeping for the department while keeping costs under
control for both the department and city as a whole.
Another area of service provided by the department is in planning. The department
provides tax and zoning maps to citizens wishing to relocate to the city and in search of
usable land. The department also informs individuals of the various codes and regulations
that may be applicable to their project. They also schedule and arrange for any planning
commission or zoning board meetings that may be required. Such duties include:
• Sending notification to adjacent property owners
• Sending notification to newspaper(s)
• Informing various board members of scheduled meetings and preparing them with a
summary of the issues.
• Conducting any necessary research on any existing or potential code violations that
may result from a proposed project
Challenges & Opportunities
• Collecting and maintaining accurate information about property owners and residents is
challenging in a city where properties are frequently sold to land trusts or corporations.
• With only two full-time code enforcement officers to handle the numerous issues of the
department, many of which require them to address in person, it is arduous for them to
manage the filing and clerical requirements of the department.
• The department currently has a computer available to them that is underutilized.
• There is considerable opportunity for utilizing the computer for preparing reports,
tracking properties, addressing complaints, and issuing permits.
• There is also considerable opportunity for using the internet as a resource for collecting
and sharing information with constituents, other public safety departments, the
Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds office, and the elected officials who only
serve part-time. The internet can also be utilized to conduct research on zoning and/or
planning issues relating to the betterment of the city.
1. Project Name: Municipal Property Management System
2. Project Mission: Develop and implement efficient, standardized processes that enable the
Department of Public Safety to maintain the health, safety and general welfare of borough
residents through enforcement of building codes and zoning and developmental regulations,
and which expedite and simplify interactions with complementary departments and
1. Business Objectives
• Create a database or improved filing system for all properties, both occupied and unoccupied,
within the city. (The current process includes using tax maps that are divided into quadrants,
and each structure has a letter and a number. In order to find owners and other information, the
code enforcement officers go to courthouse records and look up the property by lot number.
These records include property descriptions, names of owners, addresses, and contact names for
residential or commercial property).
• Simplify the property management process for the municipality by standardizing templates for
permits, property inspection reports and routine correspondence to ensure consistency. This
would improve the zoning office’s ability to communicate with their customers.
• Simplify and improve the process of tracking permits.
• Increase productivity of zoning officers by reducing clerical time in the office by one hour per
• Create an electronic, easily updateable database of all zoning regulations and basic maps (tax
maps). The goal is to allow easy access to the regulations so the zoning officers can research
and respond to requests for property information in a timely manner. This database needs to be
capable of extracting and importing information between documents; such as letters regarding
complaints and violations.
• Integrate with the existing Treasury Department system to provide information on services
rendered and billing fees.
• Ensure billing for services within 3 business days of service rendered.
• Increase training of zoning staff by 100%. This training would include improvement of zoning
practices in general as well as training on the specific new system that is created.
2. System objectives:
• Allow for a PC-based system with end-user focus.
• The system should contain an intuitive interface so it is easy to use for a non-technical staff.
• The system needs to remain relatively basic considering budgetary and technology constraints.
• The system will be developed externally by outsourcing any networking or programming needs.
The zoning department (and municipality as a whole) does not have the resources within their
budget to maintain an in-house IS staff.
1. Agents Outside the Company
Residents / Property Owners
Property Information Requests
description: Requests for information on characteristics and specifications for a
particular property in the borough
media: paper form (initiated in person or by telephone)
volume/frequency: average of two per week
Zoning Interpretation Request
description: A request for interpretation of a particular zoning law or code to
ensure that a planned activity will comply with regulations
media: by telephone or letter
volume/frequency: averages one request per week
Permit and Inspection Requests
description: Requests for building or occupancy permits. Requests for
inspections of properties, structures and construction projects required before
permits can be issued
media: by telephone or letter
volume/frequency: average of three requests per week
description: Complaints about a borough property, commonly related to unsafe
conditions, overgrown weeds or other “eyesores”
media: telephone or in person; recorded on paper form
volume/frequency: one per day
Responses to information requests
description: Property reports and other information as requested by residents
and property owners
Permits and Inspection Reports
description: Completed permits and property inspection reports
Citations and warnings for violations
description: Citations and formal warnings for violations of zoning codes and
volume/frequency: approximately 25 per year
description: Rulings on zoning/code enforcement violations and appeals
Fines Assessed Report
description: A listing of fines assessed for zoning/code violations
Recent Violations List
description: List of most recent violations and citations which will require
hearings and a ruling
County Recorder of Deeds
Changes to Records
description: List of changes to ownership and property records
volume/frequency: approximately 40 per year
2. Agents Inside the Company
Borough Fire and Police Departments
description: Notification of fire department to secure unsafe structures and
notification of police regarding other violations which may require their
media: verbal or radio dispatch, recorded in paper report
volume/frequency: average of three times per month
Contact police department for assistance
description: contact police department to assist zoning officer with
enforcement or eviction activities
media: verbal or radio dispatch, recorded in paper report
volume/frequency: average of twice per month
Borough Treasury Department
description: Budget vs. Actual expenditure reports
description: Reports of zoning office activities and associated fees for billing
Tax Status Update Report
description: Notification of current tax status and any changes due to changes
in occupancy or ownership for a property or structure
Elected Officials – Director of Public Safety / Council Members / Mayor
Direction and Planning
description: Monthly meeting minutes and report. A list of upcoming activities
and projects and a review of previous activities.
New Ordinances and Codes
description: A list of any new ordinances or codes enacted by elected officials
media: paper documentation
volume/frequency: averages three times per year
description: Zoning Department operating budget
Service Level Objectives
description: Objectives and guidelines for execution and turnaround times for
various departmental activities
volume/frequency: twice per year
Departmental activity reports
description: Reports of all departmental activities completed or initiated in the
City Manager / Solicitor
description: Legal counsel including advice on the interpretation and
application of ordinances
media: paper memo
New Projects Report
description: List of new and upcoming projects within the borough that will
require the involvement of the zoning department
media: Verbal and paper report
Borough Policies and Procedures
description: Policies and Procedures documents that govern activities that are
undertaken by all borough departments and agencies
volume/frequency: six times per year
Recent Violations List
description: List of most recent violations, citations and discrepancies which
involved zoning department involvement and action
1. Primary Business Functions
Prepare and distribute monthly activity reports to Director of Public Safety.
Process: Log the following zoning department activities as they are recorded and
turned in by code enforcement officers, building inspectors, or the
• occupancy permits issued and in progress
• building inspections completed and forthcoming
• hearings scheduled and completed
• citations issued
Process: At the end of the month, summarize monthly activity pertaining to
occupancy permits issued, building inspections completed, citations
issued and hearings into a pre-formatted report and send via inter-office
mail to Director of Public Safety for his / her review.
• retrieve and research property history files on an as-needed basis
Process: Record pertinent information pertaining to property history file request,
such as: date of request, requester name, etc.
Process: Remove property history files from archives and make copies, if
Process: Forward requested information to requester
• issue citations, building permits, eviction notices
Process: Prepare document
Process: Mail document via certified mail to recipient
Process: Gather all verbal and written requests for permits
Process: Authorize or deny permits on a case by case basis
Process: Issue permits or denial letters
Process: Gather all verbal and written complaints
Process: Research complaints against current codes and regulations
Process: Issue citations when research shows violation of current codes and
a) Request made for property history information
b) Request for Building Permit
c) Request for Occupancy Permit
d) Application filed for re-zoning of property
e) Residential/Commercial complaint filed regarding zoning violations,
building hazards etc.
a) Mail property history information to requester
b) Issue Citation
c) Issue Occupancy Permit
d) Issue and record decision pertaining to property zoning requests
e) Research and respond to Residential/Commercial complaints
f) Issue Building Permits
Director of Public Safety
a) Manage Property Zoning Department
b) Manage Police and Fire Departments
c) Manage Magisterial Office
Code Enforcement Officer
a) Enforce property zoning code
b) Enforce building codes
c) Issue building permits
d) Issue occupancy permits
a) Inspect buildings to ensure adherence to codes
a) Conduct hearings to determine outcome regarding eviction cases
b) Conduct hearings to determine outcome regarding property disputes
c) Issue citations and eviction notices
• Owners/Responsible Parties
• Property Use/zoning
• Property Characteristics (size, zoning, dimensions, public utilities, etc.)
• History of the property (past violations, former owners, etc.)
• Tax information
• Type of permit (building, occupancy, health)
• Inspection required
• Permit Fee
• History of permits issued for individual
• Reoccurring permits (i.e., health, machines, etc.)
• Date issued
• Code enforcement officer
• Type of complaint
• Actions taken
• Time period
• Summary of Department Activities (Inspections, Permits Issued, Citations
Issued, Complaints addressed)
• Departmental concerns/issues
Issues and considerations
1.) The zoning office has a limited number of users and resources due to the budget
constraints of a small municipality.
2.) The zoning office would need the ability to scale up the system in order to allow
growth in the department.
3.) The system will also need to allow for integration with additional groups as needed
in the future.
4.) The system design will need to be basic enough to minimize support and
maintenance costs. Since the work will probably be outsourced, the users will be
responsible for a significant amount of the system’s maintenance.
5.) In addition to other problems that outsourcing creates, the zoning office will also
need to consider security issues relating to confidential property information.
1.) Ordinance -- The City of Monessen Zoning Ordinance, including the Official
Zoning Map and Official Street Classification Map, as amended.
2.) Permit -- A document issued by the proper city authority authorizing the applicant
to undertake certain activities.
3.) Code Enforcement Officer -- The administrative officers charged with the duty of
enforcing the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance or their officially designated