University Heights City Council meeting highlights 3-19-2018

MARCH 19, 2018


  • Public comments
  • Rental property ordinance
  • Faded pavement markings
  • Concerns about spending
  • Joint meetings with school board
  • Bellefaire/JCB construction approved
  • Rogers sworn in
  • Coop ordinances tabled
  • Mayor’s spending limit increased
  • 2018 City budget
  • Server project
  • Silsby Road resurfacing
  • Executive session


Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan and council members Pamela Cameron, Philip Ertel, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Finance Director William Sheehan, Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. Vice Mayor Sue Pardee was absent. The meeting was held from 7 to 9:58 p.m.

Public comments

Chicken coops: More than 15 residents spoke for and against an ordinance that would allow only 25 residents to apply for a one-year permit to keep chickens. A little more than half spoke against the ordinance, citing concerns about disease, noise, vermin, and the proximity of houses. Those in favor, including a microbiology professor, said chickens pose no danger if their owners follow sanitary practices.

Rental property ordinance

Several John Carroll University student union members expressed concern about a city ordinance that prohibits three or more unrelated persons living together, noting that most rentals in the city have four bedrooms. The ordinance is under a moratorium until May 31 so that the city can consult residents and landlords about how to best enforce it.

Faded pavement markings

A resident said that a painted stop sign at Traymore and Saybrook roads has faded and needs to be repainted. She noted that she narrowly avoided a collision at the intersection.

Concerns about spending

An Ashurst Road resident said she was disappointed to see how much the city is overspending.

Joint meetings with school board

Mayor Brennan announced that the city will hold joint meetings with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board on April 23, June 25 and October 29.

Bellefaire/JCB construction approved

Council approved the planning commission’s recommendation to accept Bellefaire/JCB’s application to build a new cottage for an expanded child and mental health unit. Residents will live on the first floor of the cottage, the second floor will house offices, and the basement will be used for laundry. Two parking spaces will be added to the property.

Rogers sworn in

Interim Police Chief Dustin Rogers was sworn into office by Mayor Brennan. Police Chief Rogers said he looks forward to serving the University Heights community. Council approved an ordinance restoring Chief Rogers to the civil service rank of sergeant, on emergency. The mayor explained that the ordinance will allow the chief to return to the rank of sergeant if he is not made permanent police chief. Council also approved a memorandum of understanding between Interim Police Chief Rogers and the City of University Heights

Coop ordinances tabled

Council tabled two chicken coop ordinances until the April 2 meeting: one allowing residents to apply for a one-year permit to keep chickens, and a second establishing safety regulations.

Despite the planning commission’s recommendation that council not approve the ordinances, Mayor Brennan and council members Cameron, Rach, Wiseman, and Weiss support them. Councilman Wiseman said that Vice Mayor Sue Pardee, who was excused from the meeting, had also voiced her support. Councilmen Ertel and Sims spoke against the ordinances, citing concerns about safety and the close proximity of homes.

Mayor’s spending limit increased

Council presented an ordinance increasing the mayor’s spending limit from $5,000 to $15,000 on first reading. Councilman Wiseman said the mayor’s spending limit hasn’t been increased since 1988 but cautioned against raising it higher. He added that the mayor’s spending limit was in line with neighboring communities and was capped at $15,000 because anything higher must go out for bid.

2018 city budget

Council presented the 2018 city budget on first reading. Mayor Brennan said the city had a $3 million surplus last year, and that even with additional staff hires—which will include a police officer and firefighter—there will be a $1 million balance at year-end. Councilwoman Weiss noted that the city went through an exhaustive budget process, which hadn’t been done in a long time. She said the city is financially strong. Finance Director Sheehan said the budget may need to be amended to include a $19,000 boot allowance for the fire department. The city budget will be presented on second reading at a special meeting on Monday, March 26.

Server project

The city is installing a new server, which will require new wiring. Finance Director Sheehan, who is putting the project out for bid, said the project will cost more than $15,000.

Silsby Road resurfacing

Council approved a $346,236 bid from C.A. Agresta Construction Co.for the Silsby Road resurfacing project, which will run from Edgerton Road to Warrensville Center Road. Councilmen Sims and Wiseman asked Service Director Jeffrey Pokorny why the bid was so high. Mr. Pokorny said the project includes the installation of new curbs.

Executive session

Council held an executive session to discuss real estate and employment matters.

The next meeting will be Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m.

LWV Observer: Siobhan Leftwich.

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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. 

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