Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-10-22

JANUARY 10. 2022 – Regular Meeting


  • Public comments
  • Mayor’s report
  • Liquor permit
  • Park ballot initiative
  • Council committees
  • Other council action
  • Council member comments


Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and council members Tony Cuda, Josie Moore, Davida Russell, and Anthony Wilcox. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting began at 7:38 p.m. and ended at 8:20 p.m.

Public comments

Council has adjusted rules for public comment. Only 17 residents will be permitted in the chamber at a time. Commenters can sign up and speak for no more than three minutes.

A woman said that orange, plastic planters that appeared around the Mayfield and Warrensville intersection were not needed and unattractive. She was unsatisfied with the city’s response to her complaint, although Andre Spencer from Parks and Recreation did come to look at them. Mayor Seren will contact her.

Fran Mentch congratulated residents for the 4,619 signatures collected on the ballot initiative petition regarding the park at Lee/Meadowbrook/Tullamore, which will now be on the May ballot. She feels the park will attract people to the new apartments and existing residences. Another resident spoke in opposition to the park initiative. She feels the Flaherty & Collins design includes an adequate park (one-third acre) and that more apartments and commercial space will increase tax revenues for the city. She suggested that the proposed park would provide for neither the $2 million cost to build or to maintain, and that it may prevent the development.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren said the first week went pretty well, with much time spent gaining information and filling the cabinet. He thanked staff for their help. He asked residents to use the service request on the city website and on the Access Cleveland Heights app. to let the city know what is needed. He will be speaking to the Cleveland Heights Democratic Club on January 13 and indicated his availability to speak to other groups.

Liquor permit

Clerk of Council Himmelein notified council of a liquor permit transfer request filed at the Ohio Department of Liquor Control by Buffalo Wild Wings, 12459 Cedar Road, and patio.

Park ballot initiative

Ms. Himmelein certified the initiative petition for an ordinance to require a public activity park on 1.07 acres of city-owned land at Lee/Meadowbrook/Tullamore submitted by a committee of electors. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections validated 3,417 signatures on the original and additional petitions, thus exceeding the required number. A council committee may call public hearings and shall report and make recommendations no later than the second regular council meeting after this certification. Ms. Himmelein read the full petition.

Responding to a question from council, Mr. Hanna said the initiative could not negate the city’s agreement with Flaherty & Collins and derail the project. He said both state and U.S constitutions prohibit retroactive laws from impairing contracts.

Council committees

On first reading (in order to take effect immediately), council approved standing committees, including a new Housing and Building Committee, and assigned the general responsibilities and membership of each. The chairs are as follows:

  • Administrative Services: Mr. Cobb
  • Community Relations and Recreation: Ms. Russell
  • Finance: Ms. Hart
  • Housing and Building: Mr. Cuda
  • Municipal Services: Ms. Moore
  • Planning and Development: Mr. Mattox
  • Public Safety and Health: Mr. Cuda, Vice Chair (until the vacant seat is filled)

Other council action

Council approved, on emergency after a second reading, the issuance and sale of $3.1million of economic development nontax revenue bonds to refund the outstanding 2015 Parking Deck Improvement Refunding Bonds for the Cedar-Lee parking deck.

Council adjusted, on first reading, the 2022 budget.

Council authorized, on first reading due to an imminent deadline, application for grant funding of up to $50,000 under the Cuyahoga County Community Development Supplemental Grant Program to implement bicycle infrastructure improvements.

Council approved, on first reading, a resolution requesting that Cuyahoga County proceed with resurfacing Coventry Road from Fairhill Road to Euclid Heights Boulevard. The Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) will pay for the paving; the city will pay 100 percent for items not covered by the state and county, such as design, supervision, and signals.

Council member comments

Council altered rules for member comments so that comments on legislation and other committee business take place during those reports, but other comments are made at the end of the meeting. Comments will be limited to three minutes.

President Hart said council will reorganize public comments in March such that comments that refer to legislation on the agenda will come at the beginning of the meeting; comments on other concerns will be made at the end. She said council committee meetings will appear on the city calendar soon. She described the status of the process to fill the council vacancy. 

Ms. Russell said that she will call meetings soon in the Noble and Taylor areas to refine wish lists for American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Mr. Cuda is looking forward to chairing the Housing and Building Committee. He welcomed Mayor Seren and asked about a state of the city address. Mr. Seren replied he anticipates addressing the state of the city regularly, perhaps quarterly, rather than once a year. Mr. Cuda thanked everyone for the new COVID protocols for the council chamber.

Committee of the whole

Council was presented with an overview of this evening’s legislation. There was extensive discussion of the park initiative petition, especially about whether it will negate the contract or be constitutional. Mr. Hanna described the timeline and steps required of council by the charter.

There will be a four-hour council retreat soon to develop council rules, do strategy and visioning, and set specific goals. The retreat will be public on the city website. Dates were discussed. Ms. Hart also discussed how she plans to run council meeting such as starting on time, time limits on comments, and how often committees and the committee of the whole will meet.

Ms. Moore proposed developing legislation to declare climate change an emergency and to create a sustainability committee, which would develop a climate action plan, after which it would monitor implementation and be advisory to all other committees.

Mr. Mattox stated members need city laptop computers for security and organization and to reduce paper. Ms. Russell added members could use city cell phones for security and efficiency, as well. 

LWV Observers: Blanche Valancy, Jill Tatem.

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: 

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel:

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Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 9:03 AM, 02.01.2022