University Heights City Council special meeting highlights 7-23-2018

JULY 23, 2018


  • Tax abatements on new construction city-wide
  • 2018 alternative tax budget
  • Establishment of bike lanes
  • Small cell facilities
  • University Heights Community Improvement Corporation
  • Community Development Block Grant Funds
  • Bombardier sidewalk plow
  • Grant for the Silsby Road Park project
  • Video recording of council meetings


Present were Mayor Michael D Brennan, Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, Pamela Cameron, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville and newly hired Finance Director James Goffe. The meeting was held from 7 to 9 p.m.

Tax abatements on new construction citywide

Having received state approval for the draft, council passed Ordinance 2018-33, which will provide tax abatement on the increased assessed value of any homes for all construction completed after passage of this ordinance today. The abatement will be based solely on the change in the assessed value and not on the cost of improvements or the full value of the home.

2018 alternative tax budget

Finance Director Goffe reported that the initial property tax budget has been submitted to the county. This is a preliminary budget which will provide a blueprint for the allocation of property taxes.

Establishment of bike lanes

Council approved two ordinances: one to establish separate lanes for bicycles (non-motorized forms of transport) and exclude motor vehicle traffic from those lanes, and a second to prohibit parking in those lanes designated for non-motorized modes of transport. This is currently in effect for Warrensville Center Road between Cedar Road and Fairmount Circle. It was noted that all forms of non-motorized transport, including runners, can use these designated lanes, and that buses may pull over into the bike lane in order to drop off passengers. (Ordinances 2018-36 and 37)

Small cell facilities

In conjunction with state legislation, council approved an ordinance requiring approval for the installation of small cell phone antennas. These are boxes of varying sizes which are being installed by cell phone providers to boost their signal. One recently appeared at the northwest corner of Warrensville Center Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard, for example. There will be a fine charged daily for boxes installed without prior registration with city hall. This ordinance (2018-39) goes into effect on July 31.

Community improvement corporation

Council is considering the formation of a community improvement corporation (CIC) for the city, with its own articles of incorporation, as a statutory entity designed to enact real estate transactions on behalf of the city. One of its duties, for instance, would be to seek out development partners to redevelop, or tear down, properties that have severely deteriorated. Attorney McConville recommended sending this ordinance, which was presented on first reading, to committee for consideration as compared to other options, such as a land bank or community development corporation. A land bank can engage in property foreclosures but is part of the city, whereas a CIC is a separate entity. This ordinance will be considered by the housing and governmental affairs committees.

Community Development Block Grant funds

Council voted to accept $142,965 from Cuyahoga County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to install crosswalks at Cedar/South Green as part of the traffic calming project. They also reopened a CDBG line in the budget in order to account for these funds. The crosswalks must be completed by November, and the project includes adding ramps and adjusting the traffic signals timing to allow for safer crossings. Finally, council authorized the city to seek bids for this project. City Engineer Joe Ciuni said the drawings would be completed this week and sent out to bid immediately.

Bombardier sidewalk plow

The city will seek bids to purchase a new Bombardier sidewalk snow plow to replace the plow purchased in 1986. They cost approximately $138,000, and a new plow is included in the capital improvement budget.

Silsby Road Park project

Council accepted a Natureworks grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $105,254. This will be used to convert the vacant lot on Silsby near Allison to a mini park. It will have fencing around the perimeter, an evergreen tree and other plantings. The city will provide 25 percent of the total project cost. The project has been awarded to BJ Platten and work will begin as soon as possible.

Video recording of council meetings

Council approved an additional $12,500 to cover the cost of Mandacam Video to record council meetings for the remainder of the year. Mayor Brennan is looking into other options but asked for this cost to be approved in the meantime. All council meetings are posted on YouTube with links on the University Heights city website.

The next meeting will be Monday, September 4, 2018 unless a special meeting is scheduled before then.

LWV Observer: Wendy S. Deuring.

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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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