Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 8-20-12
AUGUST 20, 2012
- Citizen concerns - Tax abatement proposal
- Citizen concerns - Millikin School lease
- Finance director appointment
- Millikin lease proposal
- Tax abatement for Meadowbrook/Lee project
- Zoning variance
- Nuisance properties
- City manager, council vacancies
- Fund transfers
All council members were present.
Tax abatement on Lee Road property
Resident Fran Mentch spoke against the tax incentives to be offered to the developers of the Meadowbrook/Lee project, saying that $1 million of public funds had already been put into the abatement of environmental hazards and that she feels there is no market for this development as there is already vacant retail and residential space in the area. She advocated selling the land at fair market value. Resident Bob Meyers also opposed the proposal because he does not see taxpayer protections. Resident Garry Kanter maintained that an independent market appraisal is needed for Meadowbrook/Lee and sees “red flags” in this project.
Resolution for Millikin School
Akiva Feinstein said the Orthodox Jewish community is very excited about the steps taken in the Severance-Milliken School situation. He is especially pleased with the way council has dealt openly and optimistically with this situation.
Finance director appointment
Council approved the appointment of Tom Raguz to be finance director.
Millikin lease proposal
Council authorized a non-binding proposal to lease the Severance-Millikin School, 1700 Crest Road, from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District and to sublease the property to Mosdos Ohr Hatorah. The proposal provides for a 30-year lease with two 10-year extensions, and for Mosdos to make $1.5 million in improvements to the building and property. Several council members commented. Bonnie Caplan praised the resolution as creative and flexible. Jason Stein spoke about “misinformation” leading to criticism of his involvement as a “conflict of interest” and stated he would be voting on this matter.
Tax abatement for Meadowbrook/Lee project
Council approved an agreement between the city and The Orlean Company (or related entity) to grant tax abatement for development of the property currently owned by the city at 2223 Lee Road. The abatement may be 80 percent for a period of 11 years for both the commercial and residential components of the development. Council Member Bonnie Caplan abstained from the vote. Because her son-in-law is with a developer making a competing proposal, she had not been part of council’s discussions and was therefore not prepared to render a decision.
Council Member Dennis Wilcox maintained that this proposal, the best of several submitted, will be reviewed, has many benefits including potential tax revenue, and is consistent with the city’s strategic plan. Council Member Cheryl Stephens asked whether it would generate income to make up for that lost due to the tax abatement. Council Member Jason Stein claimed it would bring income tax and commercial money into the city. Mayor Edward Kelley called it a model project, with a good developer and architect. He said it shows that Cleveland Heights is alive and well and “fills in the missing teeth” on Lee Road.
Council granted Melodie Walke of 840 Keystone Drive a variance to build a four-foot fence in the corner side yard to provide privacy and containment in a high traffic area.
Council declared three properties to be nuisances and authorized abatement:
- 889 Helmsdale Road, owned by Deborah Jackson and Carl Harris, Sr., cited over the past eight years and occupied by a cousin of the owners despite a lack of water service. Razing and cleaning is estimated to cost $13,500.
- 3064 Meadowbrook Blvd., a two-family home owned by the estate of Olive June Black. The home has deteriorated and been vandalized since her move to a nursing home and death. Razing and cleaning is estimated to cost $15,500.
- 3145 Meadowbrook Blvd., a two-family home owned by Rafique Ilyas-Watson, cited over the past four years and currently stalled in foreclosure. Razing and cleaning is estimated to cost $12,500.
City manager, council vacancies
Council Member Mary Dunbar reported that the city will interview search firms to help find a new city manager.
The application deadline to fill the city council vacancy is Sept. 10 at 5:00 pm.
Council approved two appropriations amendments for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012:
- A transfer of $1,150,000 from the general fund to the economic development fund. The amount in question resulted from increased property and income tax revenues and the final payment from Zagara’s Marketplace for the city land on which the store is built.
- A transfer of $652,797 from the miscellaneous agency fund to the economic development fund to be restructured into loans to help attract businesses to Cleveland Heights.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.
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