Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-3-2018

DECEMBER 3, 2018


  • Top of the Hill hearing
  • Top of the Hill project ordinances
  • CDBG application for 2019
  • HRRC federal assistance loan program
  • Parks and recreation 2019
  • Application for open council seat
  • Liability self-insurance
  • 2019 Budget
  • 2018 budget amendments
  • Service director retires
  • Mayor’s report


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Mary Dunbar, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. Kahlil Seren was absent. The hearing and meeting lasted from 7:29 to 9:58 p.m. Public hearing on the Top of the Hill project occupied the first hour and 50 minutes.

Top of the Hill hearing

Council Member Ungar, legislative liaison for the project, conducted the hearing. Kara Hamley O’Donnell, city planner, presented the current status of the plan prior to taking questions from council and the public. She stated that the first request for proposals was issued in the spring of 2016, and there have been 26 community and focus group meetings, the latest being a five-hour planning commission session the previous week. The legislation on tonight’s agenda will create a Planned Development Overlay District (similar to those at Bluestone and Cedarmount), which does away with the current S-2 zoning designation of the site. A 99-year ground lease and a 40-year buyout option for the developer are included. A new parking and traffic study will be done in 2019. The project is to be completed by the end of 2022. A public hearing of the architectural board of review will be at 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.

Several residents expressed opinions against the project and others spoke in favor.

Comments against the design centered around:

  • Height and density are out of proportion to surroundings.
  • Design, which was said to be “developer modernism,” is out of character with the neighborhood and generic, having “no art and no heart.”
  • Who will want or afford to rent the apartments? Are they the right layouts and sizes for the intended consumers?
  • There were questions about financing.
  • This is a “tax grab” by the city.
  • Parking must be on site. Concerns about spaces available, cost, and permits abound.
  • A 3-D topographical scale model should be constructed to give government and citizens a better understanding.
  • A need to maximize green space.

In support of the design, speakers said:

  • The density of the design is good, well-placed on the site, exciting, wonderful, vital, modern, and sustainable.
  • The tax burden on the city is the same despite a decline in population. This can be helped by development that is done right.
  • Several speakers praised the ease of working with Flaherty and Collins, their honesty and willingness to accommodate citizen input.
  • The parking concerns of surrounding apartment residents have been addressed. Of a total 578 spaces, 175 will be reserved for their purchase.
  • Architecture and parking discussions will continue after the Overlay district legislation is passed.

Mr. Ungar stated that questions raised but not answered during this hearing would be answered on the website. He concluded that the city “needs to over-communicate!”

Top of the Hill project ordinances

By unanimous vote, council amended the zoning map to establish a Planned Development Overlay District at the intersection of Euclid Heights, Cedar, and Edwards Roads on second reading. Council also amended the agreement with Flaherty and Collins for the Top of the Hill project.

CDBG application for 2019

Council authorized the city manager to submit the Community Development Block Grant application for 2019.

HRRC and federal assistance loan program

Council authorized an agreement with the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) to use HOME funds to administer its down payment assistance loan program, under which Cleveland Heights residents who meet certain criteria will receive up to a $10,000 loan consisting of HOME funds issued by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Parks and recreation 2019

On second reading, council authorized programs at Cain Park and regulations and rates for the community center, parks and pool for 2019.

Application for open council seat

Due to Council Member Cheryl L Stephens’ resignation, a seventh member must be appointed to council. Applications are due January 15, 2019, and may be found here:

Liability self-insurance

Council authorized the city manager to enter into all necessary agreements with Arthur J. Gallagher & Company to continue the city’s protected liability self-insurance program for 2019, at a cost not to exceed $420,000.

2019 Budget

Council approved, on second reading, appropriations for 2019 expenditures.

2018 budget amendments

Council approved, on second reading, amendments to balance the 2018 budget. This ordinance enables the city to amend and justify appropriations and expenditures for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2018.

Service director retires

Alex Mannarino is retiring after a distinguished career as service director for Cleveland Heights. He wrote a letter to the city, which may be read here: council members praised his work and leadership in glowing terms, stating he set the gold standard and the city owes him a debt of gratitude. He is wished all the best.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Roe said she and the council take messages from citizens very seriously. She commended staff and council for their vision. She went on to comment that history is taking place in Washington, D.C., with the funeral of President George Herbert Walker Bush, an honorable man and a model of public service.

The next regular meeting will be Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. Council voted to suspend meetings for the balance of 2018, as there is no more business to be addressed.

Continuing the consideration of the Top of the Hill, there will be a public hearing of the architectural board of review at 6 pm, Thursday, Dec. 27, 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 12, Issue 1, Posted 11:22 AM, 12.18.2018