University Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-15-2019

APRIL 15, 2019


  • Mayor’s report
  • Mayor’s Municipal Future Committee
  • Fair housing ordinance clarification
  • UH City Beautiful Corporation
  • New zoning category
  • Traffic signal repair
  • Fire safety and EMS equipment
  • Department and committee reports


Present were Mayor Michael D Brennan, Pamela Cameron, Phil Ertel, John Rach, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Vice Mayor Susan Pardee and Steven Sims were absent. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Finance Director James Goffe, and Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. The meeting was held from 7:05 to 8:45 p.m.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Brennan reported that the recent breakfast with the realtors at the library was very well attended; more chairs were needed, and there was strong interest in what the city has to offer home buyers. He also announced that Ari Jaffe is the new chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Mayor’s Municipal Future Committee

Winifred Weizer, chair of the Mayor’s Municipal Future Committee, reported on the findings of the committee, which was tasked with looking at the city’s properties and making recommendations on needs and options. The committee found that the current city hall is inadequate, the fire station doesn’t have facilities for female firefighters, and the new fire engine will barely fit (options were limited by the size of the station bays). The police are having to disperse to adjacent sites for administrative functions, and the jail has been closed for failing to meet current standards. The committee was unanimous that something must be done, but the “what” is less clear. The Wiley school building is under consideration, depending on what the Board of Education decides to do with the property. The committee suggests contracting with a firm to do a professional audit of all properties and their uses, and then to recommend alternatives where needed. Two committee members voted against that proposal due to the added cost.

Councilman Wiseman noted that city funds being spent for jail space in Solon, and for space in the annex, might be saved if facilities could be reorganized. Councilman Rach noted that it is a responsibility of the city to maintain adequate facilities. Councilman Ertel noted that the city has a very long history of being frugal, but now is the time to develop a capital budget.

Fair housing ordinance clarification

In response to a fair housing complaint, council approved several clarifications to the language of an ordinance amending Chapter 820 of the city’s code, including “sources of income.” See Ordinance 2019-16 for full details.

UH City Beautiful Corporation

Council authorized the mayor to enter into an agency agreement with the University Heights City Beautiful Corporation so that the CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) can enter into agreements on behalf of the city from time to time for community development projects, property refurbishment, and other such activities as required. [Note that the CIC, has now been rolled into the City Beautiful Corporation.]

New zoning category

A proposal to combine properties into a new zoning category, “Residential Attached District,” was presented to council and will now be considered by the planning commission before returning to council for final approval. This option is being proposed for just seven vacant and contiguous properties between South Taylor and Wynn Roads. Combining these parcels will allow the developers to propose high density housing projects – an option  they have been seeking. These properties will constitute the specified district.

Traffic signal repair

Council authorized a contract with Signal Service to repair the Cedar/Green roads traffic controller for $20,105.41. The  signal was hit by a truck in March 2018 and repaired temporarily by Signal Service at that time. The new signal controller has finally arrived. Signal Service will remove loaned equipment and install the new controller. Insurance will reimburse the city after subtracting the deductible of $2,500.

Fire safety and EMS equipment

Council authorized five grant applications for new equipment: safety vests from the Ohio Emergency Medical Services organization; RIT Intervention Paks (for retrieving people trapped in a fire without oxygen) from the Ohio Department of Commerce; smoke detectors from the Walmart Foundation Community Grant Program (no match but limited dollars); additional smoke detectors from FEMA’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant (five percent match is required but larger sums are available); and diesel exhaust extraction units for the fire department bay floor area from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. By reinstating the smoke detector residential program, fire fighters will be able to provide smoke detectors to homes, inspect homes for safety, and install detectors for residents who purchase their own.

Department and committee reports

Susan Drucker, economic development director, announced that the city has received its first storefront improvement application for a building on Cedar Road with six storefronts, which has several new businesses coming in.

Councilman Wiseman reported that the building committee discussed license regulations for rental properties and are concluding that inspections should be conducted every other year, and the limit of residents should be three adults per home whether related or not. Fees for inspections are still under discussion. The building committee also reviewed the status of University Heights residents keeping chickens. There seems to be only one active coop at this time, and none of the fears have come to pass. The temporary status of the chicken ordinance will be allowed to sunset, and the law is now permanent until council decides to reconsider it.

Councilwoman Cameron has concluded that the resident(s) who asked her to present the Move to Amend proposal to council is now going to have to come before council and make the case directly. She will work with them to develop a more persuasive presentation.

The next meeting will be Monday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at the new location – the CH-UH Board of Education building, 2155 Miramar Boulevard.

LWV observer: Wendy S. Deuring.

To receive email postings of full reports, send an email to or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

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. 

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