Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-5-2018

NOVEMBER 5, 2018


  • Public comments
  • Sewer maintenance agreement
  • Civil service amendments
  • Cheryl Stephens’ resignation
  • Mayor’s report


Council members present were Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Mary Dunbar, Jason Stein and Cheryl L. Stephens. Mayor Carol Roe, Michael N. Ungar and Kahlil Seren were absent. Concern was expressed for Mayor Roe’s recovery from a fall. The meeting lasted from 7:32 to 8:22 p.m.

Public comments

Municipal broadband: A resident who has worked in the field of municipal broadband offered his expertise, concerns, and consultation to council in its consideration of this technology.

Key Bank branch closing: A resident shared his concerns about the impending closure of the Key Bank branch at Severance and urged council to look into this and try to get the bank to open elsewhere in Cleveland Heights.

Fairmount at Queenston traffic safety: A resident of Queenston Road expressed grave concern about traffic safety around the intersections of Fairmount Boulevard with Queenston and Kingston, despite the city’s efforts. The problems include illegal parking down the side streets, pedestrians walking unsafely, and limited sight lines for cars pulling onto Fairmount. Vice Mayor Yasinow referred him to Police Chief Mecklenberg.

Top of the Hill financing: A local lawyer questioned the financing of the Top of the Hill project, especially rumors of a $25 million gap to be paid for by tax increment financing (TIF). City Manager Briley reassured him that this TIF funding would be backed by the developer almost entirely, not by the city.

Shootings in Pittsburgh and on Lee Road: Five citizens spoke about the October 27 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA and the frightening proximity of a shooting that very evening at a bar close to the back door of Congregation Zemach Zedek, an Orthodox synagogue on Lee Road.

The president of Zemach Zedek stated that although the Cleveland Heights crime was neither a hate crime nor related to the house of worship, the safety of the congregants, especially the numerous children present, is of grave concern. The presence of the recently opened bar is alarming. He appreciated the increased police presence, including an off-duty CHPD officer on Sabbath, November 3. A near neighbor who is also a member of the synagogue echoed his concerns.

A neighboring homeowner spoke about the bar, which opened six weeks ago, stating it is a nuisance because of noise and patrons who are uncivil or disrespectful, and now there has been a shooting. This neighbor called 911 when he heard the shots and administered first aid to the victim. Both Yasinow and Stein praised his actions and encouraged him to continue to call police when there are disturbances.

Another Zemach Zedek member, who is an attorney, pointed out that the congregation did not receive the notification from Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control, which they should have gotten before the bar opened because they are a “church” in close proximity. They will protest this omission to the State, and he suggests that the city join their protest.

A board member of Beth El-The Heights Synagogue, located a few blocks away at Desota and Berkeley, spoke with feeling about his appreciation that a police car was at his congregation on Sabbath. He referred to an article written by a local rabbi about the limited response from the federal government to the shooting and expressed gratitude that “in Cleveland Heights we are not alone.” All council members present responded with heartfelt messages of support and protection.

Sewer maintenance agreement

A resolution regarding an agreement with Cuyahoga County to maintain sanitary and storm sewers and catch basins received a first reading. The cost for the year 2019 shall not exceed $600,000.

Civil service amendments

An ordinance to eliminate a conflict with state civil service rules in the city code also received a first reading, and will be voted on at the next council meeting.

Cheryl Stephens’ resignation

Cheryl Stephens announced her resignation from council necessitated by her election to Cuyahoga County Council. She will be sworn in to her new position at the end of November. She will attend one more city council meeting. She thanked citizens for their support over her nine-year tenure and spoke eloquently about the characteristics desirable in a replacement member.

Mayor’s report

Vice Mayor Yasinow reminded all present of the election on November 6. She said that the shooting near Zemach Zedek, of which her grandfather was a founder, had magnified the impact of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. She read the names and ages of all the victims in the tragedy in Pittsburgh.

The next regular meeting of council will be Monday, November 19, 2018.

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.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 10:46 AM, 11.13.2018