Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights12-16-13

DECEMBER 16, 2013

  • Law Director John Gibbon
  • Public comments
  • Bids
  • Building code amendment
  • Cedar Road section to honor Jason West
  • On-street parking permits
  • Housing discrimination
  • Insurance agreements
  • Recreation legislation for 2014
  • Transportation Advisory Committee
  • Budget
  • Increased fees
  • Bank account
  • Turkey Ridge development
  • Retiring Council Member Caplan
  • Retiring Mayor Edward Kelley

All council members were present.

Law Director John Gibbon

Mayor Edward Kelley began the meeting with a proclamation honoring Law Director John Gibbon, who is retiring. Kelley mentioned Gibbon’s many accomplishments over his 26 years in the position. Throughout the meeting, each council member in turn gave praise and thanks to Gibbon [for] his service to the city.

Public comment

LGBT protections: Ten-year resident Rob Rivera, speaking on behalf of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, thanked the city for ordinances enacted to protect LGBT citizens. He singled out retiring council members Bonnie Caplan and Edward Kelley, and praised an ordinance, to be voted upon at this meeting, which will offer housing protection. He urged consideration of employment protection in 2014.

Turkey Ridge development: Resident Susan Blouch spoke on behalf of the Overlook/Edgehill community about the Turkey Ridge development to be voted upon at this meeting. She discussed protecting the view and the environment and asked that clear channels of communication be set up as the project goes forward.

Andy Cabot, a resident of Little Italy whose backyard abuts Edgehill Road, claimed that the resolution does not address the stability of the Turkey Ridge soil, the preservation of beautiful trees, nor the handling of stormwater and wastewater. He said he and his neighbors fear that the developer will disappear after completion and not address future problems as they occur. Mayor Kelley responded that there will be meetings where developer Volpe and the neighbors can discuss issues.

Bicycle Safety: Resident Lee Ries, representing the Heights Bicycle Coalition, thanked council for progress with bicycle safety measures, but noted that the “sharrows” street designations should be in the middle of a shared lane, not toward the edge of the road. He maintained that more bikes on the road will actually reduce the risk of accidents as motorists pay better attention.

Move to Amend: Resident Dean Sieck, representing the Move to Amend group, offered assistance with implementing the annual hearing required by the passage of Issue 32, to be held during the third week of January. He expressed the group’s desire to include students as observers of, or participants in, the hearing.

Millard Fillmore Society: Former Cleveland Heights Mayor Alan Rapoport, speaking tongue-in-cheek, inducted retiring Council Members Bonnie Caplan and Edward Kelley into the Millard Fillmore Society, a group dedicated to the lack of memory of people who used to be in public office. He congratulated both members on their service and suggested that Kelley may not be eligible because he plans to run for county office. He also suggested that Law Director John Gibbon, while not actually elected, might be an associate member because council did vote to hire him.

Council Member Bonnie Caplan: Arnold Caplan, Bonnie’s husband, expressed the pride her entire family feels for her years of service and thanked her for her concern and actions on behalf of Cleveland Heights.


Council granted Tanisha Briley, city manager, authority to advertise for bids for the purchase of fire hydrants and to reject bids for the Lacona water line. 

Building code amendment

Council amended sections of the city’s building code to increase certain fees in order to more adequately cover administrative costs.

Cedar Road section to honor Jason West

Council passed a resolution to name the section of Cedar Road from Coventry Road to Lee Road “Jason West Road,” to honor the memory of the Cleveland Heights investigator who was killed in the line of duty on May 26, 2007.

On-street parking permits

Council approved on-street parking permits on specified portions of Kensington, Hillcrest, Belmar, Glenmont and Eddington roads. This is done annually.

Housing discrimination

Council amended the city code to expand the role and jurisdiction of the Fair Housing Board, hereafter renamed the Fair Practices Board, to hear and investigate complaints concerning discrimination in places of housing and public accommodation and to assure equal access “regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.” Council Member Janine Boyd noted that neither state nor federal law protects all of these classifications.

Insurance agreements

Council authorized insurance agreements with:

  • Arthur J. Gallagher and Company, for continuation of a liability self-insurance program for the city at a cost not to exceed $372,729 for the year 2014.
  • Employee Benefits Consultants, to provide third-party administrator services for the city’s self-funded dental program from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014. This plan provides a cost saving in comparison to traditional group dental plans.
  • HealthSpan (formerly Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio), to provide group medical and hospital services to employees and their families, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Medical Mutual of Ohio, for the provision of administrative services and excess loss coverage for the city’s self-funded medical, hospital and prescription drug plan for employees and families for the 2014 calendar year.

Recreation legislation for 2014

Council approved programs, use regulations and admission rates for 2014 recreation activities, and repealed 2013 regulations and rates. This legislation covers the presentation of entertainment [in] Cain Park, recreation programs, Cumberland Swimming Pool, and indoor swimming programs at the Cleveland Heights High School Pool.

Transportation Advisory Committee

Council approved the addition of two more members to the Transportation Advisory Committee because there was a “wealth” of volunteer applicants with excellent qualifications.


Council passed two budget ordinances. The first amended appropriations and other expenditures of the city for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013; this is the 2013 budget. The second makes appropriations for current expenses and other expenditures of the city for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014; this is the 2014 budget.

Increased fees

Council amended the admission tax chapter of the city code and increased the admission tax, which had not been increased since the inception of fees in 1947. Council also amended the city’s Traffic Code to increase parking permit fees.

Bank account

Council authorized opening a deposit account at The Bancorp Bank and assigning Finance Director Tom Raguz and City Manager Tanisha Briley to be signatories on the account. A new deposit account is required to allow the city to offer a flexible spending account plan for healthcare expenses as a benefit to its employees.

Turkey Ridge development

The council approved a $6 million agreement with Visconsi Companies, Ltd. for development of city-owned property on Edgehill Road, also known as Turkey Ridge. The land purchase price will be $175,000, tax abatement for the units will be 100 percent for 15 years, the projected closing date shall be June 16, 2014, and construction will begin Oct. 1, to be completed within three years after closing. There will be public meetings. Soil studies, view corridors and tree preservation will all be seriously considered.

Retiring Council Member Caplan

Bonnie Caplan spoke about her 20 years on city council—everything she had learned through her tenure, the impressive residents who generate good ideas and demand change, the importance of listening, and the amazing city staff. She expressed gratitude for her family’s support and understanding of her obligations. She wished good luck to John Gibbon and Ed Kelley, as well as to those who will be succeeding her on council.

Retiring Mayor Edward Kelley

In his last mayor’s report, Mayor Kelley said it had been an honor and a privilege to serve on council for two decades, and gave highlights of his council years. He said that he was born and raised in Cleveland Heights. He thanked his supportive wife and family, his talented and dedicated colleagues (past and present), and the excellent city staff.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

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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 7, Issue 2, Posted 4:44 PM, 01.14.2014