Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-19-2019

FEBRUARY 19, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Police department annual presentation
  • Fire department annual presentation
  • City manager: operational highlights
  • Landmark ordinance
  • City council vacancy
  • Ballot initiative for city charter
  • Safe Routes to School funding
  • Community Improvement Corporation
  • Sanitary sewer overflow control
  • CRA Housing Council
  • CDBG funds


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. The seventh seat is unoccupied. The meeting lasted from 7:45 to 9:27 p.m.

Public comment

Housing issues: Two residents spoke about problems with housing. One stated that safe and reliable housing is a right, and that when his landlord did not provide adequate heat during the recent cold spell, the housing department was very helpful in detecting code violations and holding the landlord accountable.

The second speaker was concerned about a halfway house on Lee Road that she had not been aware of before it opened. She said she has been concerned about many EMS and police visits to the house since autumn, and has been unable to reach city staff that can respond. She was referred to Mr. Butler of the housing department, who was present at the meeting.

Landmark ordinance: Three people spoke in support of the landmark ordinance on this meeting’s agenda and its economic benefits for Cleveland Heights. Deanna Bremer Fisher, director of Future Heights, announced her organization’s support. Other supporters were Margaret Land, a member of the Landmark Commission who is also on the staff of the Cleveland Restoration Society; and Maisie Adams, chair of the Landmark Commission.

Health code violation allegations: A citizen complained about the lack of hairnets being worn by employees at the deli counter at Dave’s Supermarket and at Burger King. He asked for the health department to investigate this concern.

Police department annual presentation

Police Chief Mecklenberg reported on the status of her department of 109 currently employed staff. Four basic patrol officer positions are frozen. More than 49,000 calls for service were logged in 2018, but while arrests are up, crime occurrences are down. Burglaries are at the lowest point ever, with a 50 percent decrease from 2017, and violent crime has decreased 28.2 percent. The chief highlighted the Community Response Team, the Police Academy, the summer Youth Police Academy for 12-16 year-olds (a very popular program, new in 2018), and increased regional cooperation through Eastside Departments Group Enforcement (EDGE). She noted that in 2019 the department would have the capability to map violent and property crime occurrences separately, allowing better targeting of enforcement.

Fire department annual presentation

Fire Chief Freeman reported an 11 percent increase in total runs in 2018, of which 21 percent were fire and emergency calls, and 79 percent were medical. He highlighted participation in the regional Hillcrest Fire Investigation Unit and a falls prevention program for senior citizens, which is being run in cooperation with the MetroHealth System.

City manager: operational highlights

City Manager Briley spoke about the branding project, foreclosure bonds, staff wellness programs, diversity training, and other highlights. She praised Steve Barker, digital and GovTV program coordinator,for recording and posting the interviews of city council applicants so quickly.

[For print versions, go to under “Government” / “City Council” / “City Council Applicants”]

Work on the EPA consent decree for the sewer system is on track, there is progress on the Taylor-Tudor area, and bid season for streets and other public works is opening soon.

Landmark ordinance

An ordinance to revise and amend the city code chapter on the Landmark Commission received a first reading. The commission meets the Ohio Historic Preservation Office’s standards to become a Certified Local Government (CLG), a federal-state-local partnership. The intent of these revisions is to further historic preservation goals by enabling the Landmark Commission to safeguard locally designated properties, protect properties as they go through the Landmark designation process, designate local historic districts where more than 50 percent of property owners consent, and protect designated properties from inappropriate alterations or demolition.

This action was promoted in the 2017 Cleveland Heights Master Plan. CLG status will increase the ability to safeguard historic properties and provide access to grants through the State Historic Preservation Office, nominate properties to the National Register of Historic Places, further community historic preservation education, and acquire and redevelop designated historic properties.

City council vacancy

Mr. Seren announced that the videotaped interviews were being reviewed and some of the applicants will be brought in for in-person interviews.

Ballot initiative for city charter

Mr. Seren announced that a community group is looking into a ballot initiative to change the form of city government to a council/mayor format. The group will hold a public meeting at the Lee Road library on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Safe Routes to School

Council authorized the city manager to apply for federal Safe Routes to School Project funds for the Cleveland Heights School Travel Plan infrastructure improvements for a total cost not to exceed $400,000.

Community Improvement Corporation

An ordinance to create and incorporate a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) for the purpose of advancing, encouraging, and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial, and civic development of the City of Cleveland Heights received a first reading. The CIC will be governed by a board comprising the city manager, the mayor, the chair of the Planning and Development Committee of Council, the housing director, and one member appointed by the city manager and approved by the council.

Sanitary sewer overflow control

Council unanimously authorized the city manager to enter into a third agreement with Wade Trim, Inc. of Ohio for professional engineering services relating to the sanitary sewer overflow control project and the EPA partial consent decree. Compensation for the work actually performed shall not exceed $2,800,000.

CRA Housing Council

City council continued the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Housing Council, designating two members, each for a three-year term. The other five members of this body are designated by the mayor (two), the planning commission (one), and the housing council (two).

CDBG funds

The Home Repair Resource Center was granted $45,000 in 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the Home in the Heights program, a purchase/rehab housing program to acquire and renovate properties and attract homebuyers. Cleveland Heights intends to continue funding to HRRC to aid its efforts to prevent deterioration and blight in the city’s housing stock, encourage and enable residents to make necessary repairs, and support the city’s code enforcement efforts.

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 4, Posted 10:01 AM, 03.19.2019