Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-5-2014

MAY 5, 2014

  • Public comments
  • City purchases
  • National Preservation Month
  • Community Development Block Grant
  • Bike proclamations
  • Street resurfacing
  • Zoning variances
  • Noble neighborhood community meeting

All council members were present.

Public comments

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC): Kathryn Lad, executive director of HRRC, commended the city for its work on housing and thanked the city for its nearly 43 years of partnership with HRRC. During that time, HRRC has helped homeowners make more than $14 million in improvements. Three other Cleveland Heights residents described how HRRC’s services helped them become better stewards of their property. Dorothy Dickerson of Dresdon Road appreciated the emotional support and guidance as she faced crisis issues with her roof and furnace after retirement. Karen Anders of Canterbury Road participated in the Home How-To for Women, which has made her much better informed about how her house works. David Clark of Atherstone Road put his Home Repair class participation to work, making do-it-yourself improvements to his home. He described HRRC as the “best kept secret in town.”

Cedar Coventry development: Several residents spoke about the proposed four-unit development by Kertesz Enterprises at 12800 Cedar Road (corner of Cedar and Coventry roads), which is city-owned property. The proposal requires two zoning variances, which would permit reduced development space and higher density.

Six residents from the neighborhood adjacent to the project spoke against the plan and the variances, which they described as extreme. Ensign Cowell said he thought the two variances set a bad precedent. Kathleen Tark, an architect, criticized the planning department’s presentation as inaccurately representing the neighborhood. She said the location is a “billboard” for Cleveland Heights and needs a smaller “signature piece.” She argued that town homes are not consistent with the single-family neighborhood. Peter Hart was concerned about the effect on the character of the neighborhood, and said he felt the proximity of the driveway to the corner and St. Ann’s Church would cause traffic problems. Architect Steve Kordalsky said that the quality of the project did not warrant extreme variances. He urged the city to set the bar high and demand better. Bill Espenschied, a 45-year resident who has invested significantly in the neighborhood, argued that the project would change the character of the neighborhood and undermine its value.

Diane Hallum of Oxford Road opposed the variances, and urged the city to follow its strategic plan and include citizens in the development planning process.

Speaking in support of the variances, Randy Kertesz, the project developer, explained that safety issues had been checked by the police, and that he had already changed the design and placement of the units in response to design suggestions by the city.

Jordan Burns, the developer’s attorney, said the variances were needed to make the project feasible. He argued that this is not the place to vote on the design. There are other opportunities for input.

City purchases

Tanisha Briley, city manager, reported expenses for six projects or purchases that do not require competitive bidding, as each costs less than $50,000. The costs ranged from $10,000 for postage to $23,000 for fire hydrant parts.

National Preservation Month

Council declared May to be 2014 National Preservation Month. Council Member Jeff Coryell announced five activities that will be part of local preservation festivities, including walks through different parts of the city and a May 21 workshop at the library on repairing wooden windows.

Community Development Block Grant

Council approved amending the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to increase the request by $100,000. This increase represents a small improvement after three years of cuts in federal funds.

Bike proclamations

Council approved proclamations to celebrate bicycling, including May 2014 as Bike Month; May 7 as Bike to School Day; and May 16 as Bike to Work Day in the City of Cleveland Heights. Public activities during the month include the May 21 Ride of Silence to honor those killed on their bicycles, a Smart Cycle Class on May 17 at Roxboro Elementary School, and a Bike Tune-Up Day in Coventry on May 31.

Street resurfacing

Council authorized a contract with Kokosing Construction Company for up to $997,075 to implement the city’s 2014 Street Resurfacing Program. Additionally, council authorized a contract with Specialized Construction Inc. to perform surface treatment and crack sealing for the program.

Zoning variances

Council granted zoning variances to:

Salvatore Sorice, 2647 Derbyshire Road, to permit an 11-foot setback and an 18-foot wide driveway. The owners must provide a tree restoration plan.

Lucene Wisniewski and Erik Kauffman, 2689 Berkshire Road, to permit building a new three-car detached garage and retain an existing attached garage.

Kertesz Enterprises for a new development project on 12800 Cedar Road. The first variance would reduce from three acres to 0.3347 acres the land required for a four-unit planned residential development. The second variance changes the maximum density for the property from 6.7 units per acre to 11.95 units per acre. These two variances were approved, with Council Members Mellissa Yasinow and Jeff Coryell voting no. Yasinow explained that she felt council should take the two weeks that are available to them to consider other solutions.

Noble neighborhood community meeting

Mayor Dennis Wilcox thanked Noble neighborhood residents who participated in a community meeting with council held at the police academy. More than 35 people shared their concerns and ideas for the short- and long-term improvement of the neighborhood.

LWV Observer: Susie Kaeser.

Please note: YouTube videos of Cleveland Heights City Council meetings may be accessed at

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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