Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-7-2019
OCTOBER 7, 2019
- Public comments
- City manager’s report
- Tax and budget resolutions
- Purchase of fire equipment
- NOACA grant
- Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Month observances
- Mayor’s report
- Council members’ announcements
All council members were present: Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. The meeting lasted from 7:40 to 9:13 p.m.
Thirteen citizens spoke about a wide variety of concerns. This comprised the first hour of the meeting and included:
- Mark Pultusker, a local landlord, expressed concern about a city-owned property in the Beechwood/Altamont area that he wanted to buy to renovate. He was told the property was not salvageable and the wrecking ball arrived soon after. He said this was not a transparent process, because the city official involved refused to discuss it with him. He was assured this would be discussed at council’s next committee of the whole meeting.
- Resident Ari Cohen says his congregation owns the property on the other side of the blighted home Mr. Pultusker referred to, and they thank the city for removing the blight.
- Veronica Chapman, stating this was her second visit to council for this problem, asked (“begged”) for help with a tree on the tree lawn that has damaged the sidewalk, sewer and lawn of her home. This has cost her more than she can afford as a senior citizen on a fixed income. Mayor Roe referred her to Housing Director Allan Butler.
- Susan Efroymson of Citizens for an Elected Mayor asserted that the Shaker Heights mayor and city administrator are able to get more from state government for their city than Cleveland Heights officials do. She denied that the effort to institute direct election of a mayor is a repudiation of City Manger Tanisha Briley’s job performance. She thanked elected officials and city staff for their service to the public.
- Carla Rautenberg pointed out that the text of Issue 26 in the Sunday Plain Dealer was riddled with errors due to typesetting failure. Although the publisher will rectify this, she fears the damage is done. Law Director Hanna responded that the newspaper “dropped the ball,” and that the text as printed is indecipherable. The correct text is on the Cleveland Heights website and will be printed correctly in the Plain Dealer and the Sun Press.
- Barb Sisnowski of Noble Neighbors expressed gratitude for the attention being paid to Noble Road, adding, “Rah, democracy!”
- A resident of Lee Road stated the opinion that a directly elected mayor would not address the problems in our city and urged voters to “really think what community is about.”
- Tamara Adrian-Davis gave a long speech about housing violations, neighbors who have been harassing and menacing her, and an alleged rape by a police officer.
- An owner of a condominium in the Buckingham neighborhood asserted that the Top of the Hill does not meet the zoning ordinance that deals with adequate light and air. She demanded an answer to a letter from condo owners to the city. Planning Director Richard Wong responded that the light and air code does not pertain to sun and shadow and went out with her to discuss this in his office after promising a written answer on the following day.
- Joyce Rajke feels that council members are “collaborators” with Top of the Hill developers Flaherty and Collins. Using a World War II metaphor, she cast herself as “part of the resistance.” She expressed that her trust had been betrayed, and her votes on election day will be based on her experience. She added that she is not against either the developer or the design.
- Blanche Valancy, representing the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, announced a voter education forum October 10 regarding Ballot Issue 26. By the time this is published, you may access a video of the meeting at: https://youtu.be/aIBzfFtrnP4?t=1
- Laura Marks spoke in support of tree planting and Arbor Day.
- Susan Miller urged residents to attend city council’s committee of the whole meeting each week to see the council in action. She urged council members to model behavior by not using bottled water, but rather the pitchers and glasses or stainless steel bottles that they have been given by concerned citizens.
City manager’s report
Ms. Briley’s full report can be found in the council meeting packet on the city website. Ms. Briley asserted that city managers are recognized as chief executive officers of cities among mayors. A few highlights from her discussion regarded: city shredding day, community improvement awards, completion of phase three of the Passport Parking application, Architectural Board of Review meeting concerning Top of the Hill on October 10, upcoming meetings about the temporary parking plan for the Top of the Hill project, progress of storefront improvement loan projects, new businesses, recent grant awards, the ongoing sanitary sewer evaluation survey, Mayfield Road traffic signals, and the Recycling and Refuse Task Force. Ms. Briley announced that the Happy 5K event last weekend broke previous attendance records.
Tax and budget resolutions
Council passed resolutions to request Cuyahoga County to advance 2019 taxes, to accept the amounts and rates determined by the budget commission, and to authorize the necessary tax levies.
Purchase of fire equipment
Council approved an ordinance to help purchase fire equipment through a third party, the Houston-Galveston Area Council Cooperative Purchasing Program, at a lower cost than the city would be able to obtain on its own.
Council authorized the city manager to submit an application to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) for funding (80 percent of which would be federal funds) from the Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) program for capital projects to support alternatives to public transportation. These projects will assist seniors and individuals with disabilities, new or expanded transportation services, and alternatives that go beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 for individuals with disabilities.
Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Month observances
Resolutions declared observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including several special days, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Cleveland Heights.
Mayor Roe is a member of the Ohio Mayor’s Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of the 30 largest cities in Ohio. She spoke about the group’s support of Governor DeWine’s “STRONG Ohio bill” to address gun violence. DeWine’s recent press conference on the subject can be viewed at: http://ohiochannel.org/video/governor-mike-dewine-unveiling-strong-ohio-plan-to-address-gun-violence.
Council members’ announcements
Ms. Yasinow wished Jewish residents a happy new year. She announced future legislation, which will create a pilot program to assist with student loan repayment for new residents to build on vacant lots or move into and improve properties in the Mayfield, Taylor, and Noble areas. She went on to discuss a piece of literature sent out by the proponents of Issue 26, which appears to show a vote yes message on the electronic sign at the community center. She noted that it is never appropriate for the city to spend money for pro or con sides of ballot issues and asserted that this image was created by the proponents.
Mr. Ungar announced a meeting of the Architectural Board of Review regarding Top of the Hill on Thursday, October 10, 7 p.m. at the Community Center.
Mr. Seren responded to the pain expressed by Ms. Adrian-Davis, the resident who spoke earlier in the meeting.
Ms. Dunbar mentioned the completion of the Mayfield Road signalization project and the high cost of the most up-to-date equipment.
The next regular council meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.