Cleveland Heights City Council meeting 7-7-2014

JULY 7, 2014

  • Jim Brennan
  • Public comments
  • Crane for forestry division
  • Byou Bar and Grill
  • Nuisance abatement amendment
  • Bond notes issued
  • Admission tax
  • Debt Management Policy
  • 2015 Tax Budget
  • Water and Sewer fees
  • Settlement with sewer district
  • Zoning appeals

Council Member Jason S. Stein was absent.

Jim Brennan

The mayor began the meeting speaking about the murder of Jim Brennan one week ago, the community vigil, the swift arrests and confessions of the alleged perpetrators, and the fact that the accused had been arraigned today and sent to the county prosecutor. He praised the police and other cooperating agencies and emphasized the commitment of city council to strengthening and working with the community in the aftermath.

Each council member also made statements. Jeff Coryell said we are defined by how we respond. Mary Dunbar commented that, although different in details, this reminded her of the Boston Marathon bombing. She used the phrase “Cleveland Heights strong.” Melissa Yasinow thanked the police department for bringing justice in such an amazingly professional manner. She cited “the better angels of our nature” in reference to the well-attended vigil and the fund that has been set up to support the employees of Brennan’s Colony. Janine Boyd thanked the police for their commitment and diligence, and cited, as well, the work they do in prevention and youth diversion. Cheryl Stephens observed that our community has a tendency to quietly and diligently go about our business until something like this crime shakes us up. She said we will survive this transition and continue to live the principles of diversity, outreach and openness.

Public comments

Jim Brennan: Resident Shaka Asberry, a performing artist, offered his services to help with an arts event in response to the murder of Jim Brennan. Another resident, Renata Brown, does not want the community to be defined by a response and expressed her perception that the crime rate is rising. John Davis moved here two years ago from Portland, which he termed a very safe city. He and his wife chose Cleveland Heights but are now concerned about safety and the number of robberies. He is impressed by the CHPD response time and concerned about prevention and proactivity.

Deer problem from Walmart development: Ethel Keith, a 41-year resident, spoke about the deer problem in her neighborhood just west of the Walmart development. Nidia Perez, who also lives in the neighborhood near Walmart, claims that the deer were displaced by the development. She asked about intervention. Mayor Wilcox replied that there have been meetings with several other communities and a first step has been taken: a consortium will survey the problem and plan for intervention. Resident Pat Frost Brooks noted that a 20- to 30-foot strip of land at the edge of the development is seldom mowed. She claims that the tall weeds attract the deer and insects. The mayor promised this would be scrutinized. Resident Bruce Needham also spoke of the deer problem and praised the city for quickly picking up a deer that was hit by a car on Monticello Boulevard.

Post office noise: Resident Calvin Lampkin spoke about zoning code violations regarding the noise from the 44118 post office behind his property, and the required noise control and buffer requirements of the zoning code that are not in place. He has apparently been attempting to find a resolution for some time.

Crane for forestry division

Council approved city authority for the city manager to receive bids for a crane for the forestry division.

Byou Bar and Grill

The conclusion of a court case against Byou Bar and Grill on Noble Road means that the bar will cease operation on July 15. Until then it must close each night at 1 a.m. The owner may not run another alcohol establishment in Cleveland Heights.

Nuisance abatement amendment

Council amended the city code in order to provide a more efficient and effective way to control weeds and tall grass, defined as a six-inch maximum, and a time frame for compliance.

Bond notes issued

Council passed legislation for the issuance and sale of $2,151,000 of notes, in anticipation of the issuance of bonds. Earlier in the evening, the finance director described the purpose of the bonds:

  • Reconstructing, resurfacing, and otherwise improving city streets;
  • Rebuilding Monticello Boulevard and Taylor Road, including engineering and planning costs;
  • Acquiring related motorized equipment and appurtenances;
  • Acquiring computer hardware and related equipment; and
  • Improving the city’s water system by constructing and installing water lines, together with purchase of the necessary related equipment, improvements and appurtenances.

Admission tax

Council heard, on first reading, legislation to exempt small entertainment businesses that hold 150 people or less from paying admission taxes.

Debt management policy

Council heard, on first reading, legislation adopting a policy concerning the issuance and management of debt to foster transparency concerning the city’s issuance of debt.

2015 Tax Budget

Council heard, on first reading, a resolution to adopt the 2015 Tax Budget. A copy of the proposed 2015 Tax Budget is available for inspection by the general public at the office of the Director of Finance at City Hall. A public hearing will be held on July 21 at 7 p.m., prior to the next city council meeting.

Water and sewer fees

Council heard, on first reading, an amendment of the city code to establish a $500 fee for tampering with water meters and to establish a Water Review Board to hear any appeals of these fees.

Settlement with sewer district

Council authorized an agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to settle a court case, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District v. Bath Township, et al. This case has been in litigation for some time and Council Member Mary Dunbar said that it was in the city’s best interests to settle the issues and withdraw any and all claims. In exchange, NEORSD will agree to take over from the city the responsibility of financing, designing and constructing the Fairmount Boulevard Storm Sewer Relief Project. The district will then construct, own, operate and maintain the sewer as the district’s asset for the period of time necessary to pay off the financing for the project. At the end of the agreed term, the district will transfer the asset back to Cleveland Heights. Additionally, NEORSD shall pay the city $200,000 toward legal expenses incurred in connection with the litigation.

Zoning appeals

Council granted zoning variances to:

  • Visconsi Companies, Ltc., between 2131 and 2375 Edgehill Road, from the Planned Residential Development regulations, to permit construction of a 10-unit development with a land area of 1.25 acres. This site presents special circumstances due to its shape and slope. There will be building on piers for stability and a wooded area will be maintained.
  • The same owner and addresses, also from the Planned Residential Development regulations, to permit construction of a 10-unit development with a height contingent upon future homeowners’ selection of options and the location of the building on the hillside to have maximum heights. The heights will range from 44 feet six inches to 46 feet 2 inches, plus the heights of the piers, and there will be a landscaping plan for the rear of the property.
  • Motorcars Honda, 3077 Mayfield Road, to permit retail and restaurant use and to re-establish auto-oriented [use], specifically a van conversion facility, on this property, which has been vacant for a long time. The proposed development will bring renewed vitality to this corner.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

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 of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 4:49 PM, 07.31.2014