Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-16-2019
SEPTEMBER 16, 2019
- Noble Road Corridor
- Public comments
- City Manager’s report
- Clerk of Council’s report
- ABR appointment
- Edwards Road
- Economic development loans
- NOPEC grant
- Mayor’s report
- Council members’ announcements
All council members were present: Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein, and Michael N. Ungar.
Prior to this meeting, two police officers were sworn in and one promoted.
The meeting lasted from 7:49 to 9:57 p.m.
Noble Road Corridor
Deanna Bremer Fischer, executive director of FutureHeights, introduced city planner Bill James who spoke at great length about the eleven-month process to assess existing conditions along the street between Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights with an eye toward reversing the decline and increasing the appeal of the four commercial areas and the housing along Noble. A key concept [of the proposal] is to make Noble a multi-modal transportation corridor. This would involve putting the street on a “road diet,” including narrowing the auto lane areas to create bike lanes, better sidewalks, and landscaping. Studies will be needed of transportation, economic situation, and redevelopment needs. It is hoped the community itself will generate early action projects and tax itself much like Special Improvement Districts do. Most council members asked detailed questions of the consultant.
Several people spoke about a wide variety of concerns.
Mark Pultusker spoke again about his experience with municipal broadband projects on both sides of the issue. He also shared his concerns about the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), the condition and disposition of houses in the County Landbank program, and the lack of any negative news in the city manager’s report, which he feels represents a lack of transparency. He pointed out that he had urged the city to pay attention to the Noble Road Corridor eight years ago, but the city chose to work on Cedar-Lee instead.
Two people representing Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband praised the council for studying public broadband service and responded to Mr. Pultusker’s concerns.
Vince Reddy spoke in opposition to Ballot Issue 26, expressing concern for the pitfalls of the transition period if it passes and urging citizens to educate themselves. He said Cleveland Heights is not a failing or declining city.
Larry Shaw said he has lived in the city for 68 years and worked for the city for 33 years. He spoke against Ballot Issue 26, praising the experience of being a city employee and the successes of the council/manager form of government.
Don King spoke for the owners of condominiums at the Buckingham, pointing out their losses to their quality of life, if Top of the Hill is built as currently planned.
Michael Bennett of Citizens for an Elected Mayor thanked city staff for all their efforts after the September 13 microburst storm. He complained, however, about the lack of visibility of city leadership and communication with residents via Facebook and other media.
Lee Chilcote thanked city staff and the Planning Commission for its work on the ownership transition at Foundation Honda. He also spoke of all the hard work in the aftermath of the microburst. He urged voters to vote “no” on Issue 26.
Deanna Bremer Fischer of FutureHeights thanked council for their attention to the Noble Road Corridor presentation. She talked about the effect of the storm on the weekend of the Heights Music Hop and how musicians and local businesses responded to the challenges. She pointed out that the Hop is not a fundraiser, producing expenses, not revenue, for FutureHeights. She urged residents to patronize these local businesses for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Kathy Flora announced that September 13—20 is Welcoming Week, sponsored by Global Cleveland. She observed it by reading the Cleveland Heights welcoming resolution.
Roger Bliss of Madison, Ohio, spoke about the planned redevelopment project at the former Medusa Cement building on Monticello Boulevard across from the Community Center.
Blanche Valancy, representing the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, announced voter education forums to be presented on October 3 (candidates for Cleveland Heights City Council) and October 10 (Ballot Issue 26). By the time this is published, you may access videos of the meetings at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ7rgBqka6ANkQakazxNPBg
[on the LWV of Greater Cleveland YouTube channel (There is a YouTube button on lwvgreatercleveland.org)]
At the conclusion of citizens’ communications, Mayor Roe asked Ms. Briley to speak about the storm aftermath and cleanup. The city manager stated that crews worked tirelessly and their efforts were seamless, better than she has ever seen in any city where she has worked. She said that safety was the number one priority, that this was a significant and devastating event, and that she was so grateful to all who worked so hard. She added that operations were her primary concern and that posts to various media were not as important.
City Manager’s report
Ms. Briley’s full report can be found in the council meeting packet on the city website. A few highlights from her discussion were about several ongoing studies, including the Compton Road and the Taylor Road streetscape. She congratulated the Public Works Department on obtaining a tree canopy grant and a grant for the Shannon Road water main.
Clerk of Council’s report
Clerk of Council Susanna Niermann-O’Neil acknowledged receipt of many posts from citizens thanking the police, fire, and public works departments and the leadership of the city manager.
Mr. Stein proposed, and council confirmed, the appointment of Joseph Strauss to the Architectural Board of Review (ABR).
Council passed an ordinance to vacate a portion of the street right-of-way for Edwards Road. Mayor Roe did not vote as she was absent from the chamber when the vote was held. This will accommodate the proposed buildings and improvements to be constructed as part of Top of the Hill, while reserving an easement for utilities and drainage.
Economic development loans
Council passed three pieces of legislation providing for loans:
Rudy’s Pub, 2191 Lee Road, for acquisition of real estate and other assets: $124,935.00, at an interest rate of five percent with a 15-year repayment schedule.
Zhug, a restaurant proposed for 12413 Cedar Road, for equipment and improvements: $150,000.00, at an interest rate of two percent, with a seven-year repayment schedule.
BNB Medusa, LLC, will receive a loan of $396,440 at a fixed interest rate of zero percent for the term of 15 years, to assist with its acquisition of the commercial property located at 3008 Monticello Boulevard; BNB Medusa is assuming the obligations of the seller, GMG Cleveland, LLC. Mr. Seren has high hopes for the project and esteem for the developer, but he voted no, saying he sees too many unknown factors. Ms. Yasinow supported her yes vote by praising city staff and council for their work on the project and pointing out the use of historic tax credits in this case.
Council passed an ordinance authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) 2019 Energized Community Grants.
Mayor Roe congratulated FutureHeights on the recent Heights Music Hop. She praised the resilience of Cleveland Heights residents and expressed her pride in being the mayor.
Council members’ announcements
Ms. Yasinow expressed her pride and gratitude for city employees’ bravery, intelligence, and compassion in dealing with the aftermath of the microburst, a storm equivalent to a F-1 tornado, the second in three years.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.