Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-6-2019
MAY 6, 2019
- Public comments
- Abortion law resolution
- City manager’s report
- Meadowbrook Boulevard reconstruction
- Selwyn Road
- Liquor control
- CAC appointment
- Bike Month and Preservation Month
- Small cell wireless facilities and structures
- Water quality ordinances
- Mayor’s report
Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren and Jason Stein. Michael N. Ungar participated by telephone, but did not vote. The meeting lasted from 7:38 to 9:21 p.m.
Abortion law: Several residents spoke about the resolution, authored by Mr. Seren, responding to the new Ohio abortion law.
One resident in support said that one in four women will have an abortion within their lifetime, and maintained that this resolution is powerful and placed Cleveland Heights at the forefront. Consequently, using our resources in support would be important, according to the resident.
Another resident, a member of the Planning Commission, is sympathetic about this issue, having been pro-choice since teenage years, but does not believe that it is appropriate to make a statement at this level of government and made three points: first, taking action in such a way allocates the budget where not appropriate; second, Columbus is where legislative action should occur; and third, council’s work plan, the masterplan of what should be done, is where the city’s efforts should lie.
Several other residents spoke in support, asserting that it is important to set priorities concerning an unprecedented assault on a woman’s body and that a statement from local government was important, especially when adding to other local voices in such communities at Columbus, Cincinnati, and Lakewood.
Another resident, while recognizing that reproductive rights is an emotional issue, commended the resolution, saying it was important to take a stand and send a strong message by participating in an amicus brief.
A couple of residents spoke against the resolution expressing their pro-life stance recognizing that day one of a pregnancy is when the life of a child begins, reflected by their heartbeat; in their view, it is not just the mom that has rights, and abortion is killing a child. They stated the statehouse did a just thing regarding the new state law and city council’s action is outrageous. One individual thanked Ms. Dunbar and Mr. Stein for not signing the letter, recognizing that they are in the minority.
Economic development: A resident from Chatfield Road focused on economic development and had been hoping to hear good news but was disappointed. In addition, this individual was concerned about the decibel level of mowing equipment and the many roads that need to be addressed regarding large potholes in streets such as Coventry, Fairmount, Fairhill, and South Park.
Arbor Day: A resident spoke on behalf of Arbor Day and continued support or the forestry department, as Cleveland Heights is known as a tree city. This resident listed many of the health benefits (i.e. a strengthened immune system) and the economic benefits (i.e. the shading of the trees over homes and businesses).
Abortion law resolution
A resolution supporting the rights to bodily autonomy and abortion and instructing the law department to act in support of those rights with an amicus brief, was presented on first reading by Khalil Seren. The measure responds to the misogyny of the male legislators imposing their will on women’s bodies, he stated. He continued to say that the city must make its beliefs known even if state government will not heed, must support women and medical care providers, and should do something substantive to tell the Cleveland Heights story, such as issuing an amicus brief when a case goes to court. After some discussion by other council members [see below], Mr. Seren said he may amend the resolution to allow joining with another city in a brief. He concluded by saying that he had signed an April 24 letter to the state, along with four other council members, but feels an amicus brief would be a stronger statement.
Ms. Dunbar said she did not feel it was appropriate for council to take a stand or speak for the community on this issue, that a resolution is the wrong approach because it is a partisan issue, not one for this nonpartisan body to join. She said this is a distraction from the work of council and that her opinion on the resolution has nothing to do with what she believes in.
Ms. Yasinow thanked the speakers on both sides of the discussion, referring to the comment period as an example of democracy. She stated she is fervently pro-choice and sees the state law as an attack on liberty, privacy, and women’s rights by restricting access to a procedure that is common and should be safe. She hopes the courts will overturn the measure, but has concerns that an amicus brief may not be the best strategy and beyond the capacity of the city’s law department, requiring money to hire outside counsel.
Mayor Roe also thanked the citizens for their opinions, which she termed “the heart of democracy.” She read an email from a citizen who expressed disappointment with the April letter on Cleveland Heights letterhead signed by five council members because it did not represent a diverse and nonpartisan perspective. Ms. Roe added that she has been pro-choice for many years and that the nurse’s code of ethics specifies patients’ ability to choose for themselves. She also noted that many in the faith community feel this is a divisive issue, but that her denomination (Presbyterian) states humans are empowered to make personal moral choices. She supports the resolution under consideration but also has concerns about an amicus brief.
City manager’s report
City Manager Tanisha Briley referred to the master plan update that can be accessed on the city website under Government/Departments/Planning and Development.
Refuse and Recycling Task Force progress may be followed on the city’s website under Government/Boards and Commissions.
There have been modest increases in income from the Ohio local government fund.
Among current capital projects, Ms. Briley mentioned completion of a Delamere Road basement flooding study, near completion of the Dugway East Culvert behind the Community Center, new Safe Routes to Schools signals at Quilliams and Noble, and the start of street and curb work around the city.
She touted the recent police department bike auction, new businesses around town, anticipated grant funding of fire department radios, the “We Are Noble” weekend on May 17 and 18, and a renovated home on Canterbury donated to a veteran by The Wounded Warriors Project.
Park Synagogue will dedicate a bench in Cain Park on May 19 and Cleveland State University students have completed a trailways study of the park.
There is a Cleveland Heights supplement in the May Cleveland Magazine. Mary Trupo of community relations recently appeared on an NPR program about branding.
Meadowbrook Blvd. reconstruction
The $924,279 bid by Fabrizi Trucking and Paving for the reconstruction of Meadowbrook Boulevard has been accepted. Council authorized the city manager to make an agreement with GPD Group for engineering administration and inspection services for this project. Compensation shall not exceed $77,515.
Council gave the city manager permission to go to bid for resurfacing and waterline replacement on Selwyn Road.
Proximity Golf Lounge, a new business at 3099 Mayfield Road has applied for a liquor license.
Council unanimously appointed Barbara Danforth to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), amid much praise from members.
Bike Month and Preservation Month
There was some discussion of the number of special weeks and months proclaimed by city council. Mr. Stein believes there are too many, thereby reducing the “specialness” of each one. Although the two under consideration at this meeting were both national events, Mr. Stein voted against Preservation Month, but for Bike Month out of respect for Ms. Dunbar. Other members countered that historic preservation is an integral part of the identity and brand of Cleveland Heights.
Small cell wireless facilities and structures
Council passed an ordinance to permit wireless service providers, cable providers, video service providers, and their designated agents to attach small cell wireless facilities to municipally owned support structures located in the right-of-way, including on utility poles, traffic signals, and street lights and to construct, maintain, modify, operate or replace a wireless support structure in the right-of-way.
Water quality ordinances
Council passed three water quality ordinances. They deal with erosion and sediment control, storm water discharge control, and a small amendment needed to clarify an ordinance related to illicit stormwater discharge in the Doan Brook, Dugway, and Nine Mile Creek watersheds within the city.
Women Out Walking kicked off its season on May 5.
Mayor Roe urged residents to take advantage of the many free activities offered by parks and recreation; all programs and events are listed at https://chparks.com/
Council is closely monitoring the state operating budget bill. Ms. Roe went to the statehouse with the mayors’ association.
The next joint meeting of council with the school board and the University Heights mayor and council will be June 24.
Council continues to work on the recommendations issued by the Charter Review Commission.
LWV Observers: Jeannine Gury and 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.