Cleveland Heights City Special Council meeting highlights 4-17, 4-24-2017

APRIL 17, 2017

  • Public comments
  • Decision regarding votes on legislation
  • Zoning variance
  • Fence permit fees
  • Outdoor dining
  • Certificates of occupancy
  • Police vehicles
  • Charter Review Commission
  • Issuance and sale of bonds
  • Professional energy service agreement
  • Reaching Heights Spelling Bee team
  • Boston Marathon
  • Gun violence
  • Mayor’s State of the City report

Four council members were present: Cheryl L. Stephens, mayor, Carol Roe, Kahlil Seren and Melissa Yasinow. Mary Dunbar ran the Boston Marathon, Jason Stein was observing a religious holiday, and Michael N. Ungar was out of town on business. The meeting lasted from 8 to 8:43 p.m., having started late due to complex matters discussed in the council’s work session.

Public comments

Leaf blowers: Andrew Gross a 49-year resident, spoke about his concern regarding the noise and air pollution caused by leaf-blowing machines.

Noble Neighbors: Susan Sanders, representing Noble Neighbors, thanked city staff for delivery of mulch to pocket gardens in the neighborhood. Using mini-grant funds from FutureHeights, the organization will plant annual flowers in time for their third annual festival, We Are Noble, which will take place May 19, 20 and 21.

Decision regarding votes on legislation

Five members of council must be present for financial legislation to take effect immediately. As only four were present, anything passed would not take effect for 30 days. Therefore, it was decided to read most legislation for a second time and schedule a special council meeting for Monday, April 24.

Zoning variance

A variance requested by Charles Zuchowski of the May Lee Building, 2490 Lee Blvd., to permit a storage facility was made a matter of record and will be considered at the special council meeting on April 24.

Fence permit fees.

This ordinance, given a first reading, will raise the fees for permits for residential and commercial fences, parking a recreational vehicle, garaging a truck, and building chicken coops.

Outdoor dining

A resolution to allow the city to lease [an] outdoor dining area to RHHJ Productions (The Rib Cage) at 2214 Lee Road was given a first reading.

Certificates of occupancy

On second reading, council approved an ordinance that would incentivize responsible rental property ownership by amending Chapter 1347 of the city ordinances with a new subsection, 1347.02(e). The new law would prohibit the building commissioner from issuing a certificate of occupancy for any structure used for residential occupancy on a parcel that has a delinquent property tax balance or an unpaid balance for nuisance abatement costs incurred by the city. This law exempts a property owner, agent, or person in charge of the dwelling structure who can provide documentation that they are on a delinquent property tax payment plan in good standing. The measure also includes a provision for notifying tenants when a certificate of occupancy has been rejected or will not be renewed.

Mayor Stephens commented that this is an important step toward making sure owners pay their fair share of property taxes and maintain their property. Kahlil Seren thanked council members for their support of this legislation. Melissa Yasinow added her hope that these rules can be extended soon to commercial property owners.

Police vehicles

The purchase of three new 2017 Ford Utility Explorers for the police department, through the Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program, was given a first reading. The total cost will not exceed $79,806.

Charter review commission

Carol Roe announced a meeting of the Administrative Services Committee for Friday, April 21, to begin to develop legislation for setting up a charter review commission.

Issuance and sale of bonds

Council heard second readings of seven ordinances pertaining to the issuance and sale of bonds for the city’s 2017 capital improvement program in the following maximum principal amounts:

  • $115,000 for the costs of acquiring motor vehicles and related equipment for the police department.
  • $225,000 for the costs of improving streets and roads in the city by reconstructing, grading, draining, paving, and making other improvements as designated in the plans approved, or to be approved, by council.
  • $360,000 for the costs of acquiring motor vehicles and equipment for the public works department.
  • $150,000 for the costs of acquiring equipment for the police department.
  • $65,000 for the costs of installing and improving sidewalks at the city hall complex.
  • $75,000 for the costs of replacing fire hoses and nozzles at the city’s fire station facilities.
  • $355,000 for the costs of acquiring motor vehicles and related equipment for the fire department [for] providing emergency medical services.

Voting on these ordinances will take place at the special meeting on April 24.

Professional energy service agreement

An ordinance to execute a professional service design-build agreement with Evans Energy was given a second reading. This project will result in increased energy efficiency, equipment reliability and reduced energy costs, and the cost is not to exceed $5,445,562. This will be voted on next week.

Reaching Heights Spelling Bee team

The City of Cleveland Heights will field a team again this year; Police Chief Mecklenburg, Carol Roe and Melissa Yasinow will compete.

Boston Marathon

Melissa Yasinow congratulated Mary Dunbar for participating in the Boston Marathon again this year. She noted that this Patriots’ Day was the fourth anniversary of the marathon bombing.

Gun violence

Yasinow also spoke about the recent senseless murder in Cleveland as part of an epidemic of gun violence. Mayor Stephens added that there is a special connection to this horrific act, as one of the victim’s daughters is an employee of Cleveland Heights.

Mayor’s state of the city report

Mayor Stephens spoke about “What’s up in Cleveland Heights.” She highlighted the Master Planning Initiative that took place last year with Cuyahoga County support, and the Economic Advisory Commission currently under development. In discussing our safety forces she mentioned the police department’s updated body cameras, and computers in all police cars, as well as the fact that all firefighters are emergency medical technicians and that University Hospitals has recognized the fire department for its quick response time. She praised the cooperation among the safety forces in [the aftermath of] the tragic murder of Sunny Patel.

Mayor Stephens touted the city’s partnership with the school system and with many volunteer groups. She noted concern about proposals for cuts in the federal budget, but said that the city budget is strong and the city manager is managing funds well. She praised the work of individual city departments and noted improvements in the strength of the zoning code.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

APRIL 24, 2017

  • Capital bonds
  • Zoning variance disapproved
  • Fees for fence and other permits
  • Outdoor dining area lease
  • Comments from council members
  • Mayor’s report

Six council members were present: Cheryl L. Stephens, mayor; Jason Stein, vice mayor; Mary Dunbar; Carol Roe; Kahlil Seren; and Melissa Yasinow. The meeting lasted from 7 to 7:39 pm.

Capital bonds

Council approved, on a third reading, all seven ordinances regarding the issuance and sale of bonds for capital improvements .These are detailed in the April 3 and April 17 council meeting reports.

Zoning variance disapproved

Council disapproved an application by Charles Zuchowski, doing business as May Lee Building, 2490 Lee Blvd., to permit a storage facility in that building. A variance must meet the burden of proof on each of seven factors that it is the minimum action that can afford an owner relief from a problem. No member of council believed that the owner presented clear and convincing evidence on all seven factors.

Fees for fence and other permits

Council approved raising fees for permits for residential and commercial fences, parking a recreational vehicle, garaging a truck, and building chicken coops and runs.

Outdoor dining area lease

Council approved a five-year lease for an outdoor dining area [for] RHHJ Productions (The Rib Cage) at 2214 Lee Road. The owner will pay $650 per year.

Comments from council members

Melissa Yasinow presented a moving statement about Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust, including the history of her grandparents who are survivors. She also passed along a report from the chief of police that thefts from unlocked cars are increasing, and urged residents to lock their cars and hide any possessions in the trunk. Yasinow noted that the City of Cleveland Heights team lasted through the fourth round in the Reaching Heights Spelling Bee, and that the Earth Day March for Science last Saturday was the most polite, quiet and respectful march she had ever attended.

Mary Dunbar showed off the medal she won for running the Boston Marathon last week.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Stephens said that Women Out Walking began its season of group walks, which take place at 2 p.m. each Sunday through mid-July. She supported Yasinow’s Holocaust remembrance, and reiterated the sentiment that we should “never forget.”

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

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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.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 9:59 AM, 06.20.2017