Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-16-22
MAY 16, 2022
- Public comments
- Staff reports
- Horseshoe Lake Dam Project
- Council actions
- Council member comments
- Committee of the whole
Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., Josie Moore, and Davida Russell. Also present were Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting lasted one and two-thirds hours.
Four residents opposed the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Horseshoe Lake Dam project, citing the value of the lake to migratory birds and the health value of bodies of water, and challenging the severity of the flood risk. One resident praised the public engagement plan. Another questioned the lack of publicly available detailed data that had informed the plan.
Nine residents opposed the initial plan for the Wellington Mews development on the former Carmelite Monastery property at Fairmount Boulevard and Lee Road. They objected to the density, lack of green space, increased traffic congestion, demolition of a sacred space, tax abatements, and loss of value to surrounding properties. They also claimed the architecture to be inappropriate to the neighborhood.
One resident complained about adolescents too young for drivers’ licenses riding electric scooters at high speeds on sidewalks in the Lee Road business district and urged the city to remove the scooters.
Robin Van Lear, representing Coventry PEACE, Inc., criticized the Cleveland Heights University Heights Library’s recent decisions about the PEACE campus as posing a threat to the arts in Cleveland Heights.
One resident, describing loose paper blowing around her neighborhood, asked the city to change the policy prohibiting bagging recyclables in the new recycling bins.
Police Chief Britton presented a Life Saving Award to Police Investigator Brian Ondercin for administering life-saving first aid techniques to a four-month old infant in cardiac arrest.
Mayor Seren reported that he will participate with the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association to inform state legislators about local needs.
Horseshoe Lake Dam Project
Frank Greenland, director of watershed programs, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, reported that a $1.5 million contract, to last twelve months, has been awarded to AECOM-Stimson for pre-design activities for the Horseshoe Lake Dam project. Components are removal of the class-one dam, design of new streams and floodplains, sediment management, public engagement, and landscape integration plan. He also identified other consultant team members. The next phase, development of a detailed design, is expected to happen between May 2023 and May 2024, with construction to start by the end of 2024. Responding to council member questions, Mr. Greenland described the process used to identify pre-design consultants and the planned community engagement process. Upon Mr. Cuda’s request, Council President Hart permitted questions from the audience. Residents posed questions about the cost of sediment removal and the ability of alternative plans to meet ODNR requirements.
Council approved amendments to the fiscal year 2022 budget on first reading as an emergency measure.
Two items were offered on first reading only:
- An amendment to the city code to remove the director of finance duties from the clerk of council’s role.
- Authorization of an agreement with Life Force Management, Inc. to provide billing, collection, and related services for Cleveland Heights ambulance services.
Council member comments
Ms. Larson reported that Lead Safe legislation is moving forward. The Public Safety and Health Committee is also working on changes to the noise ordinance and will take up the electric scooter issue. She invited everyone to join the Noble Neighborhood celebration the weekend of May 20-22.
Ms. Russell announced that she will host a job fair in June. Cleveland Heights residents age 18-24 would be eligible for jobs paying $15/hour for 20 hours/week for 6 weeks during the summer, working for Cleveland Heights businesses that had suffered pandemic-related staff shortages. Funds are provided by a grant.
Mr. Cuda expressed his concerns about Coventry PEACE campus. He thanked voters for supporting the Cedar-Meadowbrook-Lee development and Issue 10. He commented that more charter changes would be needed to complete the transition in the city’s form of government.
Ms. Hart spoke of the positive developments in the city, including Top of the Hill, Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook, Taylor-Tudor, and infill housing. She referred to a robust discussion of council’s “right of inquiry” in the committee of the whole.
Committee of the whole
Law Director Hanna explained that, with the passage of Issue 10, there is a conflict between the amended charter and the ordinance regarding the finance director serving as clerk of council. The resolution to be offered on first reading would resolve that conflict. Ms. Himmelein, who will continue as finance director, would be relieved of clerk of council duties when the amendment is certified, anticipated to be May 24. There followed a discussion of how the clerk’s duties would be covered until the position is filled. Mr. Cobb outlined the steps taken thus far to fill the position, required legislation, and next steps to develop a job description and salary grade, with a goal to interview candidates in June.
A resolution opposing Ohio General Assembly bills for “trigger bans” responding to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade will be developed.
Mr. Cuda outlined a potential ordinance or charter amendment to permit council to mandate: 1) that city employees and appointees to city boards or commissions respond to council requests for information without unreasonable delay or denial and; 2) that city employees attend, when requested, council and council committee meetings. He characterized the measures as necessary for good government and provided examples of other cities with similar provisions. A robust discussion followed in which both the mayor and council members expressed concerns about excessive demands on staff time, an overly broad scope, a lack of an identified need for the measure, and the fact that simpler methods could provide council the information it needs.
It was agreed that Mr. Cuda would make revisions based on feedback offered.
LWV Observer: Jill Tatem.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2021-Agendas-and-Minutes
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClevelandHeightsOH