University Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-5-2018

FEBRUARY 5, 2018

  • Public comments
  • Chief Hammett retires
  • Rebuilding community relations
  • Black History Month
  • Guide Studio rebranding proposal
  • Medical marijuana operations
  • BZA appointments
  • Kelly M Thomas, Clerk of Council
  • Jeremy Iosue, Labor Counsel
  • Joseph Ciuni, City Engineer
  • Countywide All Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan
  • Medical marijuana applications moratorium
  • Vacant buildings
  • IT and phone systems upgrades
  • Video recording of meetings
  • Cleveland Community Mikvah extension
  • Silsby Road resurfacing
  • Stormwater management education program
  • Dump truck replacement engine
  • Computer maintenance
  • Finance director report
  • Fire chief report
  • Service director report
  • Housing demolition funding
  • Executive session for real estate

Present were Mayor Michael D Brennan, and council members Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, Pamela Cameron, John Rach, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Councilman Steven Sims arrived after roll call. Councilman Philip Ertel was absent. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Finance Director William Sheehan, and Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. The meeting was held from 7:05 to 9:50 p.m. when council moved to executive session.

Public comments

Holiday trash pickup: A resident asked for clearer communication regarding changes in trash pickup schedules around holidays. [Note that the schedule was included in the city’s January newsletter, which is available on the city’s website.]

Police Chief Hammett retires

Mayor Brennan reported that Chief Hammett has submitted his retirement, effective March 16. A current member of the force will be named as interim chief. [Brennan] says he knew the chief was planning to retire in 2018 and is sad to see him leave.

Rebuilding community relations

Mayor Brennan announced that he and some other members of the administration would be meeting with administrators of John Carroll University to reestablish college-community relations. He also noted that his meeting with the Beachwood mayor and a council member has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts but has been rescheduled for Feb. 19, even though that is a holiday.

Black History Month

Mayor Brennan read a resolution honoring Black History Month, calling on all residents to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities and reaffirming the city’s commitment to justice and against discrimination. All council members signed the resolution.

Guide Studio rebranding proposal

Council authorized a contract with Guide Studio for $30,000 to develop a rebranding strategy for the city of University Heights. Guide Studio, which has worked previously with South Euclid, North Olmsted and Lakewood, will work with officials and residents to help determine "who" the city is: what sets it apart, what are its distinct advantages, and what is its core purpose. [Guide Studio] will take six to eight weeks on the development process, and then several months helping with implementation.

BZA appointments

The mayor selected and the council approved Linda Johnson, Ari Jaffe and Kevin Goodman to serve on the University Heights Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Kelly M. Thomas, Clerk of Council

Council authorized the retirement and immediate re-hiring of Kelly M. Thomas to continue to serve as Clerk of Council (Ordinance 2018-08).

Jeremy Iosue, Labor Counsel

Council authorized a contract with Jeremy Iosue of Harvey Abens Iosue, LPA, as the city’s Labor Counsel in an amount not to exceed $35,000 (Ordinance 2018-09). Mr. Iosue will oversee the contracts with the service union and fire departments. The mayor is bringing in a new person to signal a fresh start in relations between administration and unions. The fee will be $175 per hour instead of $225 for the previous counsel.

Joseph Ciuni, City Engineer

Council authorized the contract with Joseph Ciuni of GPD Group as the City Engineer (Ordinance 2018-03).

Countywide All Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan

Council adopted the plan established by Cuyahoga County emergency notification system and FEMA standards for 2017-2022 (Resolution 2018-10).

Medical marijuana applications moratorium lifted

Council lifted the moratorium on applications for building permits, zoning approvals, or certificates of occupancy that would enable the creation of medical marijuana testing laboratories or testing facilities (Ordinance 2018-11). The [governmental affairs] committee determined that $12,500 was a reasonable fee to charge for establishing this type of business as there is only one location in the city that would qualify to house a testing lab.

Vacant buildings

The law director noted a gap in the city’s ordinances regarding inspecting vacant homes. Ordinance 2018-12, presented on first reading, will require the city to obtain the owner’s permission to enter a vacant building; failing that, the city will go to court, demonstrate probable cause, and obtain a warrant.

IT and phone system upgrades

Council authorized the mayor to seek bids for upgrades and improvements to the city’s IT and phone systems, and possible audiovisual capabilities for council chambers. There are no more phone extensions available, and no caller ID. Various departments are using different computer operating systems. Council would also like to have presentations projected on screens so that the audience can see what is being presented to council. There is no cost estimate yet. This action authorizes the research to determine options and costs.

Video recordings of meetings

Council authorized the mayor to spend up to $10,000 more this year to continue to have council meetings videotaped. He had arranged to record the first three meetings of the year as an experiment, but is quickly approaching the $5,000 limit for mayoral expenditures without council approval. The cost for the inaugural meeting was about double the cost of the other two meetings due to the size and complexity of the auditorium. [The recordings of the first three meetings can be found on YouTube at]

Cleveland Community Mikvah extension

Council authorized a one-year extension to the Cleveland Community Mikvah to begin construction as authorized by the planning commission. The organization failed to pull their construction permits within the time allotted.

Silsby Road resurfacing

Council authorized the administration to seek bids for the 2018 resurfacing of Silsby Road from Edgerton to Warrensville Center roads, and to accept $36,000 from the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works 2018 maintenance program, which will pay for the asphalt. The city will pay for labor costs and probably also curb replacements.

Stormwater management education

Council authorized a memorandum of understanding with the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District to provide public education and outreach regarding storm water management, in compliance with Ohio EPA requirements. The city will pay $5,500, which the Northeast Regional Sewer District will reimburse.

Dump truck replacement engine

Council approved payment of $14,800 to purchase a refurbished engine for the service department’s 2009 International five-ton dump truck from Cerni Motors of Painesville. A part within the engine broke and created extensive damage. The refurbished engine will keep the truck in service for at least another five years. A new truck would cost $165,000.

Computer maintenance

Council authorized an agreement with PC Alternatives LLC to provide IT service and maintenance to a various of city departments at an annual cost not to exceed $9,000. They have been providing service on an as-needed emergency basis thus far. The cost of $9,000 will provide 100 hours of service. It was the lowest of three bids received. PC Alternatives has been in business for 26 years and works primarily for municipal entities. The cost does not include any software or hardware costs.

Finance director’s report

Shaheen reported that the auditors have begun the audit for 2017. He also reported that the Fair Housing Complaint Form is being developed for use online. Finally, the city has been named in three separate foreclosure actions for standard reasons, but there are no charges against the city.

Fire chief’s report

Chief Perko reported that there have been eight structural fire calls so far this year, including one that occurred during this meeting. The department has applied for three grants for air cleaning equipment, training, and equipment for fire fighters.

Service director report

Pokorny reported that snow and ice control has required eight overtime events so far this winter. The city has used 50 percent of its salt and expects to use the full order by the end of the season.

Housing demolition funding

Grogan-Myers reported that a new round of demolition funding is being released in a few weeks by the county. He is compiling a list of priorities.

Executive session for real estate

Council adjourned to executive session at 9:50 p.m. [After the meeting, the League observer learned from the clerk that council returned from executive session and voted to give the mayor the authority to negotiate and to enter into a lease agreement for real estate for a period of 12 months. Further details are not available at this time.]

The next meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m.

LWV Observer: Wendy S. Deuring.

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These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.


Read More on University Heights
Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 11:35 AM, 02.20.2018