Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-20-2019
MAY 20, 2019
- Public comments
- Municipal court annual report
- City manager’s report
- Abortion rights
- Property declared a nuisance
- Mayor’s and council members’ announcements
Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, and Jason Stein. Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow and Michael N. Ungar were absent. The meeting lasted from 7:31 to 8:44 p.m.
Abortion rights resolution: Eight citizens spoke about Resolution 30-2019, “In support of the right to bodily autonomy and the right to an abortion; including the Law Department to act in support of those rights.” Six favored the resolution; two, against. Their comments will be presented in the section on the resolution below.
Noble Neighbors: Jeanette Carr, representing Noble Neighbors, thanked the council for its ongoing support, specifically for city services for, and the attendance of, officials and staff from many departments at the recent “We Are Noble” event. She added that the partnership between the city and Noble neighbors has helped to increase property values and civic engagement in the area.
House survey: Melody Hart, representing the Greater Cleveland Congregations, announced a walk to survey houses in the Noble neighborhood on Saturday, June 8 from 1:00—4:00 pm.
Pit bulls: Two women who own a dog business in Cleveland Heights urged the council to look at legislation in the city code which may discourage responsible owners of pit bulls from living in the city by labeling these dogs dangerous, even though it is not currently enforced. They suggest that council consider a new law similar to one recently passed in Lakewood.
Municipal court annual report
Judge J. J. Costello presented highlights from his 2018 annual report, available on clevelandheightscourt.com under Court Information. The court handled more than 15,000 cases, including civil, criminal, and traffic matters, more than any other local municipal court. A partnership with Cleveland has yielded access to specialized dockets like mental health, drug, and veterans’ courts. The judge highlighted modification of the bond schedule and fine payment plans, electronic filing, close work with Chief Mecklenberg and the Cleveland Heights Police Department, case management, and an improved website with better search capabilities. The court receives $1.1 million from the general operating fund. While it is not a revenue center, it has reduced expenses and operates in the black. Judge Costello stated it is an honor to serve the community and praised the dedicated staff of the court and other city departments.
Several council members thanked the judge and asked a few technical questions.
City manager’s report
There were more than a dozen items included in City Manager Briley’s report. She announced the Memorial Day city office closing and annual ceremony, the opening of the Cumberland Park pool, Residents’ Day at Cain Park, the Dog Walker Watch kickoff, details of street construction season (which she calls “progress season!”), parking updates for Top of the Hill and the Passport Parking App expansion, the Youth Police Academy in June, and the raising of over $4,000 for the Officer Jason West Scholarship Fund. The state budget is expected to have a modest increase in the Local Government Fund.
The Complete Streets Program was named number one in the nation, with credit to Planning Director Richard Wong and his staff. More details can be found on the city’s home page (www.clevelandheights.com).
The Fire Department is testing hydrants and recently handled a house fire with heavy damage but no injuries. There was also a fire at Kensington Apartments that required intervention by the hazardous materials team.
Ms. Briley announced new businesses, progress on implementation of the citywide Community Reinvestment Area, and the request for qualifications and proposals for the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook Project.
An article in the Sun Press enumerated attempts to repave Coventry Road, which is an ongoing concern. Mayor Roe pointed out that patching of Coventry continues, but it does not hold very well, because the underlying structure is not good. City staff has succeeded in securing $14.5 million for multiple street projects.
The six residents speaking in favor of passing the abortion rights resolution described what life is like for abortion providers and patients, emphasizing that some in the anti-choice movement use rhetoric that can get people killed. They urged council to send a “solid message” and protect citizens. A speaker urged a prompt vote, saying that our city was not immune to violence and that punting this legislation was shameful.
The two citizens against the resolution said that they “speak up for the silent group of pro-lifers” and against the “dismemberment and murder of babies.” They feel intimidated for being pro-life and referred to the letter previously sent by council. One asked how members present would have voted if there had been a vote this evening.
Mayor Roe pointed out that not enough members were present to vote on the abortion rights resolution on emergency and that the council is working to amend the resolution. During the second reading, Mr. Seren said that a procedural amendment will strike the emergency clause that allows legislation to take effect immediately, rather than in 30 days. Ms. Dunbar stated she would not to vote on this measure because there is no unanimity in the Cleveland Heights community. She added that if citizens feel threatened, they should always call the police. Council voted unanimously to amend the resolution, which will receive a third reading on June 3.
Property declared a nuisance
Council voted to declare 3804 Kirkwood Road a nuisance and authorize abatement. Mr. Seren stated that the city has a legal ability to demolish a hazardous house. This one cannot feasibly be renovated, the two principal owners are deceased, and taxes are delinquent. He hopes for infill construction, but meanwhile the lot will be green space.
Mayor’s and council members’ announcements
Ms. Dunbar spoke about extensive street repairs and announced a Bicycle Coalition ride June 1, on a tour focusing on brickwork on historic buildings.
Mayor Roe announced a Noble Corridor plan meeting on June 20. She praised the Citizen Bank for renovating and donating a home to a disabled veteran and his family. She recently attended a Regional Transit Authority meeting about redesign and fare equity. The city will develop a memo to RTA emphasizing underserved areas of the city.
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.