University Heights City Council meeting highlights [5-9-11]

MAY 9, 2011

This was a special meeting held due to a lack of quorum at the May 2 meeting.

  • McDonald’s development plans
  • Emergency operations plan
  • University Square parking garage

All council members were present.

McDonald’s development plans

The requested traffic study was recently completed and found that the impact of the restaurant to be negligible. Bruce Rinker of McDonald’s reviewed the proposed design and the changes that have been made in response to the community’s concerns. They increased the amount of green space and the number of trees, raised the fencing to six feet tall, shielded the exterior lighting to shine straight down, and oriented the speakers to face Warrensville Center Road, with the volume automatically adjusted to the surrounding noise level. The lot has 2.3 percent green space and 23 percent is pervious surface, which allows water to percolate through.

Mr. Ptacek, architect for McDonald’s, explained the measures taken to reduce the environmental impact. Improvements include pavement, which is white to reflect heat and is highly durable; and a white roof, which also reflects heat thus requiring less air conditioning. Trees shading the cars also require less energy use by the cars. Bathroom fixtures are all low-flow and have sensors, and all equipment and lighting is high efficiency.

The local operator will decide the interior. McDonald’s maintains an 18-month review cycle of all operators and enforces tight oversight. The operator will be from the Greater Cleveland area.

The mayor allowed public comments, typically not permitted at special meetings. Ten people spoke and all were against the project.

Several council members, including Steven Sims, Phil Ertel, Steven Bullock, and Frankie Goldberg expressed reservations. Councilman Phil Ertel felt it was an effort to shoehorn a business into a residential community and would not be an enhancement. Councilman Steven Sims said that although the restaurant will be an improvement to the current site, he was concerned that the estimated $20,000 in tax revenue would be offset by reduced property values of the surrounding homes and the cost of traffic diversions. He felt the city is hindered by its lack of a comprehensive master plan. Councilman Steven Bullock wondered why the city was attracting businesses that do not reflect his image of University Heights. He did feel the current design was much better than the initial one. Councilwoman Frankie Goldberg’s primary concern was the impact on the environment, and asked McDonald’s to express eco-awareness as a value instead of super-sizing the residents.

Councilwoman Susan Pardee noted that council’s role was to uphold zoning codes, ordinances, and the charter. The people who own the properties determine the actual businesses. She was impressed by the vigilance provided by the zoning board, the architectural review board, and the planning commission in shaping this project.

Several council members had heard directly from numerous residents who were strongly in favor of the project.

Council applied three more conditions: all deliveries must be made during the hours of operation (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), all cars must exit onto Warrensville Center Road, and McDonald’s would need to provide additional calming measures, if needed, within one year of opening of the store. The final vote was five in favor, with Councilmen Ertel and Sims opposed.

Emergency operations plan

Council approved a resolution adopting the Cuyahoga County Emergency Operations Plan. Chief Pitchler explained that after 9/11 the federal government required all cities to update their regulations and develop more regional plans.

University Square parking garage

After an extended discussion council approved an amendment agreement with the Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District regarding the University Square parking garage TIF payments. Councilman Consolo voted nay, Councilman Ertel had gone home because he was sick, and Councilwoman Pardee recused herself as an employee of the Board of Education. Bond Counsel Gigi Benjamin had negotiated an agreement among the three parties confirming the payments that had been made and the funds still owed. Based on his research, Councilman Consolo felt the port authority was not showing all payments. Benjamin noted that the city is only a pass through agent and must pay out the funds immediately. Mayor Infeld believed the discrepancies were due to reporting delays by the port authority. The city must sign the agreements or it would be in default per the terms of the loan from the port authority.

LWV observer: Wendy Deuring.

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail 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 Cuyahoga Area. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.


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Volume 4, Issue 7, Posted 10:41 PM, 06.12.2011