University Heights City Council meeting highlights [10-3-11]
OCTOBER 3, 2011
- Resident complaint about neighbor’s yard
- Gearity School walk-a-thon
- Leaf collection
- Firefighter Paul Nees honored
- School board members talk about schools and levy
- Police and fire pensions
- Fire department equipment
- Carpet purchase tabled
- Sweepstakes terminal cafes
- Senior transportation
- Zoning and planning fees
- Public safety items.
- Road construction
Councilman Kevin Patrick Murphy was excused.
Resident complaint about neighbor’s yard
A resident of Meadowbrook Road said that he has complained several times, in writing and with pictures, about the condition of his backyard neighbor’s yard. He said he has received no reply from the city. Mayor Infeld and the service director indicated that they would talk to him the next day.
Gearity School walk-a-thon
Students from Gearity Elementary School will have a walk-a-thon this week to raise funds for field trips, buses, and mini-grants for teachers.
Leaf collection will be Oct. 15–Dec. 1.
Recycling Day will be Saturday, Nov. 5, with Friday Nov. 4 for residents that cannot participate on Saturday.
Firefighter Paul Nees honored
UH firefighter Paul Nees was honored by members of the orthodox community in recognition of his actions in a fire on Milton Road in July. The Seltzer family of five was led out of the burning residence by firefighter Nees, and he was injured in the blaze. Nees acknowledged their thanks, but pointed out that this was a departmental effort and the other firefighters deserve their thanks as well.
School board members talk about schools and levy
Karen Gorman-Jones, a member of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education, made a presentation highlighting accomplishments and new initiatives in the schools. She urged council to support the 6.9 mill levy on the November ballot, which is the smallest in 20 years. Councilman Bullock asked what had contributed to the positive academic record posted by Wiley Middle School last year. Gorman-Jones said much of the credit is due to the new principal. Vice Mayor Frankie Goldberg asked about the Professional Development School at Gearity Elementary School, which partners the school with John Carroll University. School Board Member Ron Register said it was going well and the administration was looking for partners to establish a second professional development school next year. Councilman Steven Sims commented on the positive trends and the board’s efforts to save money. Responding to his concerns about communication efforts. Gorman-Jones said that, in addition to communication with parents and students, Superintendent Heuer has invited community groups to meet with him.
Police and fire pensions
Council authorized, on emergency, the transfer of funds to the general fund for budgeted police and fire pensions.
Fire department equipment
Council authorized, on emergency, the purchase of self-contained breathing apparatus (air packs) for the Fire Department to replace damaged equipment.
Carpet purchase tabled
Council tabled an ordinance to authorize an agreement with Marshall Carpet One for the installation of carpet at City Hall and the clerk of council office due to confusion about the bid amounts.
Sweepstakes terminal cafes
On an emergency vote, council re-established the expired temporary moratorium on the acceptance and processing of applications for zoning, occupancy, and/or building permit approvals for sweepstakes terminal cafes. Councilman Sims questioned why council wouldn’t just ban them entirely. Law Director Fisher explained that a plan underway to give the Casino Commission statewide oversight over these establishments meant that permits would be issued by the state. If the plan is approved, a municipal ban would be moot. The moratorium, which would extend to April 20,2012, will cover the situation in the meantime.
An ordinance, presented on first reading, would authorize the mayor to enter into a six-month contract agreement with Senior Transportation for the provision of transportation services to senior residents and disabled residents of University Heights. Mayor Infeld explained that some residents had been taking undue advantage of the service, scheduling up to 80 trips a month in some cases. Letters have been sent to 162 clients about new restrictions proposed by the city. Until those are in place, the contract has been extended for a one-month grace period.
Zoning and planning fees
Three ordinances, presented on first reading, would amend fee schedules for the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals applications. Mayor Infeld explained that the city is absorbing a considerable cost for projects presented to the city that may not come to fruition. Law Director Fisher said that typically such upfront costs for commercial projects are borne by the developer or ultimate user. Currently the city’s cost is recaptured only if the project goes forward. The ordinances provide guidelines to assure that the applicant bears these costs.
Councilman Sims asked for more information on costs to the city on recent proposed projects. City Engineer Ciuni said that there could be six or seven mailings at approximately $100 each, plus other costs. He also pointed out that other communities have much higher fees that those currently in place in University Heights. Law Director Fisher said that the city will recoup up to $12,000 on the McDonald’s project, which is going forward, but because an appropriate ordinance had not been in place, the city forfeited all costs expended on the earlier WaterWay project.
Public safety items
Police Chief Hammett announced that the department passed an annual audit, which will allow access to records through a safety network. Also, department personnel will participate in training through the Shaker Heights police department (a trade for Chief Hammett ‘s participation on the Shaker promotional panel). He noted that court costs for probable cause felony hearings may be transferred to municipalities in the future and could amount to a $16,000 to $20,000 annual expense for the city.
During this construction season, 32 road projects have been completed and 48 are pending. Upon questioning from Councilman Sims, City Engineer Ciuni expressed confidence that the remaining projects will be completed by the end of October. He said the South Taylor joint project with Cleveland Heights has been delayed because of issues Cleveland Heights has with the contractor.
LWV Observer, Patricia C. Solomon
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