Cleveland Heights City Council Meeting highlights 4-15-2019
APRIL 15, 2019
- New council member Craig Cobb
- Public comments
- Council priorities update
- Cedar-Lee and Meadowbrook project
- Small-cell wireless facilities
- Leaf collection
- Hydrant flushing
- Top of the Hill project
- Ohio Senate Bill 23
- Mayor’s report
Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael Ungar attended the meeting. The meeting lasted 1 hour and 21 minutes.
New council member Craig Cobb
Council Member Ungar moved for the approval of Craig Cobb, from among the more than 35 individuals who had applied, to fill the vacancy on council created by the departure of Cheryl Stephens. Mr. Cobb was praised for his intellect, dedication, integrity, and compassion along with his previous service to city as a member of the Planning Commission, Charter Review Commission, Fair Housing Board, and Citizens Advisory Committee. Following a unanimous vote of approval, Mr. Cobb was sworn in by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly. The newest member of council took his seat and offered a few remarks about the importance of public service and the standards he has set for himself in his new role.
Resident James Williams stated his pride in being part of the city, and sang “Simple Gifts” in memory of Mrs. Norwood, his former teacher at Cleveland Heights High School.
Council priorities update
In March 2018, council agreed on eight overall priority areas: Housing; CDC and Economic Development; Operations/High-Performing Organization; Collaboration and Regionalism Efforts; Quality of Life/Green Initiatives; Fiscal Stability; Measuring Progress and Metrics; and Miscellaneous/Other. City Manager Briley highlighted areas where there have been changes since the 2018 year-end report was presented in January 2019. (The report can be found on the city council page of the city’s website.) In the housing area, Ms. Briley noted that the foreclosure bond approved by council last year is now active. The city has received 22 bonds to date, and staff are conducting a vacancy inventory to look for properties that qualify. So far, there has been no need to use any bond dollars for any property maintenance, which indicates that the banking institutions appear to be in compliance. Ms. Briley noted progress resulting from the city’s partnership with FutureHeights to implement a rehab and infill construction program. FutureHeights has identified twelve homes to rehab and sell and have begun work on four. Another partner, the Home Repair Resource Center, has taken on seven properties to rehab. FutureHeights also secured funding for a Noble Road Corridor study for which the final report is coming soon. In the Quality of Life/Green Initiatives area, Ms. Briley stated that the Refuse & Recycling Task Force is meeting for the first time this week to begin exploring greener, more sustainable waste management and recycling programs.
Cedar-Lee and Meadowbrook project
Council authorized City Manager Briley to issue a Request for Qualifications/Request for Preliminary Development Proposals (RFQ/RFP) for the Cedar-Lee and Meadowbrook site, currently owned by the city.
Small-cell wireless facilities
Council heard a first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 943 of the Cleveland Heights city code, which regulates small-cell wireless installations and support structures, to comply with a Federal Communications Commission ruling from December 2018.
Spring leaf collection will continue through April 26. A pickup schedule map is on the city’s website.
During the months of April and May (weekdays only), the Cleveland Heights Fire Division flushes fire hydrants throughout the city. As a consequence of the flushing, a great deal of sediment is raised. If rust gets into clothing being washed, rust remover is available at the Division of Water, located on the lower level of City Hall.
Top of the Hill project
Council Member Ungar offered remarks on the Top of the Hill project in response to a recent newspaper article that reported the formation of Citizens for Great Design as a reaction to the design process. He recognized that residents have a right to be critical and praised the level of community engagement. He was emphatic that the project is a high priority and that council has been clear that great design is mandatory, not optional, and that the suggestion that there has been any sacrifice or compromise or relaxation of standards indicates a lack of attention to what has been happening. He cited the numerous, diverse, and frequent opportunities for public involvement and comment, including on the new drawings that will be available by April 29, and stated that all input has been welcomed with no filtering or screening. He described the city’s planning and development staff as serious, hard-working, dedicated, and engaged in a collective pursuit of greatness on this project. He also praised the developers, Flaherty & Collins, along with Eppstein Uhen Architects as great partners. As the city council liaison for the project, he welcomes input from Citizens for Great Design along with all others, but noted that reasonable minds may differ about what constitutes great design without leading to mediocrity.
Ohio Senate Bill 23
Council Member Seren noted the state government’s recent “assault on the rights to bodily autonomy of Ohioans who are able to be pregnant” through Senate Bill 23, and stated his belief that council should stand up for the rights of the citizens of Cleveland Heights and throughout the state. He is drafting a resolution supporting the right to bodily autonomy and abortion care and joining Cincinnati in helping to fight Senate Bill 23 through the courts. He welcomes input and feedback.
Mayor Roe stated that council would be considering the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission at the council committee of the whole meeting on April 29. She also noted that because of the state’s recently approved transportation budget and gasoline tax increase, the city will receive $719,000 annually. The gasoline tax is a major revenue source for the city’s street maintenance fund. The state budget also increases public transit funding to $70 million (from $33 million) over the next two years. She praised State Rep. Janine Boyd and State Sen. Sandra Williams for supporting urban areas in the Ohio legislature’s budget process.
LWV Observer: Katherine Solender [from video].
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