Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 7-15-2019
JULY 15, 2019
- Public comments
- Special presentations
- City manager’s report
- Amended charter
- Initiative petition
- Liquor permit objections
- Commission appointments
- Job creation grant
- Parking solution
- Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development
- Mayor’s report
- Council members’ announcements
Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren and Jason Stein. Michael N. Ungar was excused but listened on the telephone. The meeting lasted from 7:40 to 9:30 p.m.
Ballot Issues: Fourteen citizens spoke on this topic, especially regarding whether the ballot initiative proposing direct election of a mayor, supported by the Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) or the amended charter referred from the work of the Charter Review Commission (CRC), or both, will be placed on the November 5 ballot.
Several speakers expressed concern that placing both on the ballot will confuse voters. They advocated that placing only the direct election of a mayor issue will make the choice more clear and that the amended charter issue could be dealt with later. They urged council not rush to do both. Proponents of direct election said that this form would provide clarity about who is in charge and provide leadership citizens could be exited about. The ease of obtaining more than the required number of petition signatures was cited as evidence that citizens really want this change and that the CRC did not listen to citizens as it did its study. Some felt that was a political move on the part of the council.
Speakers felt the issue ballot language is unnecessarily long and complex. Representatives of both sides have met together to work on improving the ballot language.
There was some concern that Mr. Cobb was on the CRC and now is on council. Mayor Roe stated the law department has researched this and finds no conflict of interest. Mr. Juliano will provide a written explanation.
A speaker was in favor of keeping the manager/council form, which has been in place since the founding of Cleveland Heights and, the speaker felt, is very efficient. He also noted that the issue refers to a “full time mayor,” but then allows for limited other employment. He said this is confusing and should be removed.
Other Issues: A concerned resident spoke about the pressure of climate change and asked about what the city is doing. She would like to see the city coordinate with the schools and students. She mentioned planting trees and installing solar panels on the roof of the high school, for example.
A resident of Grandview Avenue spoke about a wood burning pizza oven installed in April in the back yard next to their home, saying they have to leave home when it is fired up because they are so uncomfortable in proximity. They have involved the police, fire, and housing departments because it is to them a public nuisance and creates air pollution. Another resident of Grandview said this is the only family that has a problem with the oven. The owners share the oven with others and thereby create an enjoyable community activity.
Law Director Jim Juliano is retiring from his position. Mayor Roe presented a plaque and gifts and spoke in detail of his service to Cleveland Heights. Council members praised his service.
Chief of Police Mecklenberg and nine officers, along with the mayor and council, recognized the actions of Officer Joshua Robertson, commending his professionalism and leadership at the site of a 12:52 a.m. house fire on July 6. They awarded him the Lifesaving Award for being first on the scene before the fire department arrived and crawling through smoke to follow the sound of a six year old crying, successfully pulling the child to safety.
City manager’s report
Ms. Briley paid tribute to Mr. Juliano on his retirement and announced the appointment of William R. Hanna as director of law, effective Aug. 1, 2019. Mr. Hanna is a partner at Walter Haverfield. He has previously worked for Cleveland Heights as outside counsel and part-time assistant law director; he has held similar positions around the region.
The city manager gave updates on Top of the Hill, the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development, Severance Town Center, and the Ohio state budget Local Government Fund. She stated the sewer consent decree is on schedule and on budget, mentioned distressed houses to be removed and transferred, announced Safety Forces Night Out (August 6), and promoted the potential of the citywide Community Reinvestment Area and the Lead Safe program.
An ordinance to submit a First Amended Charter of the City of Cleveland Heights to the voters, which would repeal and replace sections of the current city charter, received a first reading. Members commented on this item. Ms. Dunbar supports the legislation as written. Ms. Yasinow said the CRC kept in mind the best interests of the city and that she thinks the CEM is rushing their issue, not the council. Mr. Seren advocated placing an unbiased summary of the elected mayor issue on the November ballot and holding this one for the March 2020 election. Mr. Stein opined that council should delay putting this measure on the ballot. Mr. Cobb did not comment. Mayor Roe stated that the CRC’s work grew out of issues that needed to be addressed, the process was open, and members were appointed who did not already have positions.
An ordinance to submit the citizens’ initiative petition to revise the charter to establish an elected mayor received a first reading.
Liquor permit objections
Council passed three resolutions objecting to the renewals of current liquor permits at three establishments due to numerous incidents requiring police calls. The businesses and the reasons for each are:
- Noble Gas, 2610 Noble Road: more than 450 calls to the police over five and one-half years for many incidents including a shooting that resulted in death.
- City & East Hookah Bar, 2781 Euclid Heights Blvd.: more than 150 calls for police service over three and one-half years, including a shooting while patrons were waiting in line to enter.
- 7 Eleven/BP, 3983 Mayfield Road: more than 400 calls for police service over three-years, including a shooting.
One new member was appointed to the Planning Commission and six new members to the Citizens Advisory Commission.
Job creation grant
Council approved a Job Creation Grant Program to provide incentives to businesses to retain, create and expand employment opportunities within Cleveland Heights without utilizing tax revenues or impacting negatively upon the local school system. Funding for the program will come from non-tax revenue sources: interest income, permit fees, activity fees, service charges, and tax incentive application and monitoring fees. Mr. Seren thanked development department staff for obtaining this grant.
Council granted permission to make an agreement with Cedar Hill Baptist Church to utilize 75 parking spaces for city parking permit holders during the construction of Top of the Hill. This is a key piece in moving forward with the development.
Council unanimously authorized the city manager to sign a memorandum of understanding with Cedar Lee Connection, LLC, concerning the development of the 4.8-acre Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook site.
Mayor Roe reported on attending a Health Care Roundtable meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown regarding local impact of possible repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Council members’ announcements
Ms. Dunbar discussed the continued progress on Safe Routes to Schools in the Noble/ Quilliams area. Mr. Cobb announced a hearing on the tax budget July 29 at 7 p.m. Mr. Seren announced an information session about solar power for homes to be held July 25 at the Lee Road Library.
The next meeting will be Monday, July 29, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.