University Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-8-2015
SEPTEMBER 8, 2015
- Public comments
- Road repairs
- Housing crisis program
- Dunkin’ Donuts zoning appeal
- Backyard camps
- Charitable donation
- Kollel Yad Chem Mordechai
- Nuisance properties
- Solid waste disposal
- Sewer camera
- City trees
- Tennis courts
- Special assessments
- Solid waste services and recycling
All council members were present.
School board candidate: James Posch of Demington Road in Cleveland Heights is seeking election to the CH-UH School Board and introduced himself to members of council and to members of the public. He served seven years on the library board, where [he said] they made many gains during a period of financial setbacks. He wants to bring that same kind of vision to the school board.
Parking ban for Wiley School: Neil Kellner of Bushnell Road asked council to reconsider the proposed parking ban on streets surrounding Wiley School while it serves as the temporary high school. He reported that students are being dropped off everywhere, at times when they have been unable to get out of their driveway, and the street is reduced to a single lane. He also asked for increased police presence, as it is a smaller presence than at the former high school in Cleveland Heights. The mayor explained that council has already increased the police presence and the school has hired off-duty sheriffs to work at the school. Further increases are not planned.
Backyard day camps: Dave Farkas of Rubyvale Drive spoke on behalf of backyard day camps, which is an issue to be addressed in this meeting’s agenda. He noted that backyard day camps have been a long-standing institution and provide value, especially in the Orthodox Jewish community. He noted a section of the Ohio Revised Code [ORC 5102] specifically allowing for backyard day camps; [and said] they should be allowed in University Heights based on state law.
Nuisance property: Amy Palomar asked council to please consider declaring the house at 2602 Edgerton Road, which is next to hers, to be a nuisance.
Mayor Infeld noted that road repairs are nearing completion, with final repairs being made to large patches of pavement rather than entire blocks.
Housing crisis program
The mayor announced that a panel discussion co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters will be held Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., at Siegel Learning Center, to discuss the housing crisis in 2015.
Dunkin’ Donuts zoning appeal
Council denied an appeal of the zoning board’s decision against the use of graphic images on the illuminated sign from Dunkin’ Donuts. Dan Beeman of Wagner Electric Sign Company explained that in the haste to complete installation of the new sign at Dunkin’ Donuts he didn’t realize that the graphic sign, which is used by other Dunkin’ Donut locations, constituted a change from the original illuminated sign presented in the site plans. Only static text is allowed in University Heights, with the option of an alternating time and temperature. Beeman [asked if] because an alternating time and temperature message is permitted, wouldn’t an alternating message of various prices and specials be allowed, as is commonly done by quick-service businesses, schools, sporting facilities and cities?
The attorney for the national sign association felt that the restriction constitutes a violation of free speech. City Attorney Luke McConville noted there was no restriction of free speech, as the city was not restricting text, only [specifying] that it could not be moving or changing. Building Commissioner Eric Tuck-Macalla concurred that the issue was the flashing nature of the sign and not the fact that it is illuminated.
A resident who lives approximately 80 feet from the sign said it is visible from his backyard. He is not opposed to the business being there, but feels the flashing sign creates a significant distraction to drivers in an area that is already congested and dangerous. He is further concerned that if Dunkin’ Donuts is granted the variance, other businesses will also want the flashing signs (as Walgreen’s has across the street in South Euclid) and the area will begin to look like Las Vegas.
All council members except Councilwoman Adele Zucker voted to deny the appeal. Zucker felt the sign should be allowed because it is blocked from residential view by the corner building and there was not a large turnout of residents who were opposed.
After lengthy discussion, council tabled the appeal from Rochelle Koval of Churchill Boulevard regarding the zoning board’s decision requiring childcare facilities in a single-family residence district to apply for the required daycare permit and to follow all rules for daycare use.
This summer, Building Commissioner Tuck-Macalla issued citations to eight backyard day camps after receiving complaints from neighbors. He said he was aware of other such programs but only took action if there were complaints. He noted that the city is not against backyard day camps but that they must get a permit and there are restrictions. This issue is regarding homes that run a summer program for three to five weeks. Most are Orthodox Jewish families, who tend to have many children and a very short summer break, making it difficult to place their children into a standard summer camp program.
Two council members, who had often hosted children of friends during the summer in the same fashion as these day camps, expressed concern that they and many others had inadvertently broken the law. Mayor Infeld was concerned that if day camps, which had few differences from daycare centers, were allowed to operate without permits the city would have no grounds to hold the daycare centers to current rules.
Council authorized the mayor to sign a charitable donation agreement with University Hospital Systems for a Lucas 2 Chest Compression Device for the fire department. The device is a backpack-sized machine which can perform chest compressions at the correct speed and depth for as long as is needed. It has proven to be significantly more effective than human CPR efforts.
Kollel Yad Chem Mordechai
Council approved the consolidation of three lots to house the new home of Kollel Yad Chem Mordechai on Green Road. Site plans have already been approved.
Council declared the property at 2602 Edgerton Road to be a nuisance. The home is vacant and the owner is deceased. The city has been trying to contact the heirs but they have been unresponsive. Declaring the property a nuisance will allow the city to make repairs and try to maintain the home’s value. If it is determined that the home needs to be torn down, the issue will be brought back to council.
Council declared the property located at 3580 Raymont Boulevard a nuisance. The owner is deceased and the city is unable to find a responsible party for the property. There is a tarp over the roof, and the basement is open. Council would like to tear down the house.
Council authorized an agreement for recycling processing services with Kimble Transfer & Recycling. Service Director Jeffrey Pokorny explained that this is the east-side consortium agreement for blue bag recycling. The city currently receives 50 percent of the market value of the recycled goods. Recently, the city has recycled 240 tons of material per year and received approximately $2,000. Although this is not a large sum of money, there are cost savings in avoiding transport to a landfill. The new contract will pay the city a minimum of $.05 per ton, with the price to increase if the market improves.
Solid waste disposal
Council authorized an agreement for the transfer and disposal of solid waste by Browning Ferris Industries of Ohio. This is a three-year agreement at approximately $18,000, with an optional two-year extension. Cleveland Heights was proposing raising its rate for providing the same service to $77,000.
Council authorized the service director to request bids for the purchase of a lateral sewer camera system. The service department is responsible for maintaining the lateral connections from the house clear-out T to the street, but it currently only has a snake. The camera will enable the department to identify blockages and determine if they can be removed or if the sewer line needs to be dug up.
Council authorized the request of bids for the planting and pruning of city trees. This year’s work will be done primarily in Zone 3 extending south from Silsby Road and west from Warrensville Center Road. The city plans to plant 130 trees for approximately $28,000. Approximately 650 trees will be trimmed this winter at a cost of $75,000. Vice Mayor Susan Pardee asked if it would be possible to distribute door hangers to homes where trees will be trimmed, similar to [the notice] the Illuminating Company provides.
Council authorized the request for bids to rebuild the four-court set of tennis courts at Purvis Park. The city has received a grant of $142,000 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which will cover a portion of the cost, estimated to be $308,000. The city recently spent $70,000 for crack sealing and repairs to the courts. The three-court set will not be rebuilt at this time.
Council authorized collection of the special assessments for the year 2015 on a certain parcel within the city and authorized the director of finance to file the report on the abatement of special assessments with the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer on or before Sept. 14. This is regarding the TIFF payment for the University Square property. Tax payments are still not being made, but the ordinance is necessary in case a payment for the outstanding taxes is received.
Council approved the following special assessments:
- On properties served by streetlights, at the rate of 70 cents per front foot for the tax year 2015. There is no change from last year.
- Against property within the city to maintain, repair, and reconstruct the sewage system and waterlines within the city for tax year 2015. This is essentially unchanged from prior years.
- For providing city services in the removal of nuisance conditions at various locations throughout the City of University Heights. This ordinance pertains primarily to cutting grass at properties in violation of city regulations.
- For improving the city’s streets by planting, maintaining, and removal of shade trees [in] the tax year 2015. There is no change from prior years.
- For providing city services in the removal of nuisance conditions at various locations throughout the city. Residents receive an initial warning from the building department and then a three-day notice from the service department that their property is in violation.
Solid waste services and recycling
Council authorized agreements for recycling services and for the transfer and disposal of solid waste services. The same east-side consortium is offering a shared contract to transfer solid waste to a transfer station in Glenwillow. Currently the city is moving its solid waste to Cleveland Heights but Cleveland Heights is proposing a significant cost increase for the service going forward.
Presented on first reading was the resolution approving the appointment of University Heights resident Michael Bohan and Finance Director Larry Heiser to the Cuyahoga County Tax Incentive Review Board to represent the City of University Heights. This appointment is a requirement of the TIFF process.
LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.
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