Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 6-7-2021

JUNE 7, 2021 regular meeting


  • Public comment
  • City manager’s report
  • Zoning code amendments
  • Council action
  • Council member comments


Present were Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Council President Jason Stein was excused. Also, present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna.

The meeting convened at 7:48 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m. An executive session lasting 30 minutes followed the Public Safety Committee Meeting. Another executive session following the committee of the whole lasted 20 minutes.

Public comment

Five residents complained about conditions in their neighborhood including unsupervised children playing in the street, trash everywhere, dogs running loose and defecating on neighbors’ lawns, rocks and bikes left behind cars, housing code violations, and speeding cars. The residents would like the city to take charge of this situation, which appears to be centered on four rental properties.

A resident suggested that the Cedar/Fairmount district would benefit from more outdoor dining.

A resident asked about council returning to in-person meetings and suggested using the recreation center and/or rooms in the high school to ease the burden of social distancing.

A planning commission member recommended adoption of zoning code amendments this evening. She advised that the planning commission will be reviewing the city’s zoning codes during 2021-2022 to bring them up to date.

Two residents encouraged council to move forward on the Cedar/Lee development that will provide market value apartments and increase walkability from residence to jobs.

Krista Hawthorne of Reaching Heights expressed concern that the Ohio Senate version of public school funding, authored by Senators Hoffman and Dolan, would not do enough to address the current school funding inadequacies. She thanked teachers for their work during the pandemic and drew attention to staff awards and photos of the CHUH graduates, which are posted on the CHUH Website.

City manager’s report

Ms. O’Neil said that, this week, she will address the neighborhood issue brought up during public comments. Also, she and staff will be working on parklet possibilities for Cedar/Fairmount outdoor dining. 

Cascade Engineering, Inc. was awarded the contract for supplying roll-out containers for the automated garbage collection services.

Zoning code amendments

Eric Zamft, planning director, presented the zoning code amendments recommended by the planning commission. 

Council action

During the committee of the whole meeting, Council President Stein pulled from the agenda an ordinance that would add Civil Immigration Enforcement to the city code. Mr. Seren had asked for its reintroduction as council had never voted on it. The ordinance was referred to the Public Safety Committee.

Council authorized the city to become a Power a Clean Future Ohio Community. Mr. Ungar commented that NOPEC (Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council) has a sustainability task force to which he hopes the city is continuing to send a representative. Ms. O’Neil has attended and will find out if they are still meeting. Mr. Seren commented that Power a Clean Future Ohio is an organization that partners with communities to help cities reduce their carbon footprint.

Council approved a resolution supporting H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. Ms. Russell commented that this federal legislation outlines needs for more police accountability, best practices, more police training, a national registry, and body cams for all police officers. Ms. Dunbar suggested the city’s police department has already implemented these changes.

Council amended appropriations for the 2021 budget. Director of Finance Himmelein explained the Police Academy has not been operating so those funds were moved to other police department expenses. Expenses were increased for emergency repairs to the transfer station. Funds were received from the Ohio Department of Aging for COVID relief.

Council amended the zoning code to update the city’s regulations regarding private parking garages and other ancillary changes. Mr. Ungar commented that Jessica Cohen, a member of the planning commission and author of one of the public comments, and city staff recommend these amendments. 

Council authorized an agreement with Tucker Ellis LLP to serve as counsel on the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook project. 

Council repealed provisions of the “Minor’s Curfew” in the General Offenses Code. Mr. Cobb asked Mr. Seren to read this legislation into the record as Mr. Seren initially brought up the need for the curfew repeal. Mr. Seren thanked Nancy Levin, Library Director, and city staff for providing information and data to substantiate the repealed provisions.

Receiving first readings were: 1) an ordinance to provide for the issuance and sale of bonds for road construction projects, purchasing equipment and motor vehicles and mobile radios for the Police Department and 2) a resolution to approve the adoption of the 2022 Tax Budget. Ms. Hart commented that this adoption, described in the packet, must be presented to council in June to meet state deadlines.

Using a consent agenda, council proclaimed June 4, 2021 as National Gun Awareness Day and June 2021 as LGBTQ Pride Month and authorized further assistance for Lake Erie Ink’s Ink Spot Program COVID needs using CDBG CV funds.

Council member comments

Ms. Russell announced that the Recreation Center, Cumberland Pool, and Senior Center are opening in June. Also, the city has partnered with the governor, the National Guard, and Metrohealth to give free COVID vaccines to anyone 12 years and older at Monticello Middle School on June 9 from 2-6 p.m. No appointment is needed.

Ms. Dunbar is holding a Municipal Services meeting on June 30 to discuss the concerns raised by Ms. Russell about the blight of the salt barn, yard waste piles, and the condition of the city’s building on Noble Road.

Mr. Ungar announced that he is not running for reelection to council in 2021. He listed his accomplishments, expressed gratitude to those with whom he has served including city staff, and said he would miss his engagement with Cleveland Heights residents.

Mr. Cobb thanked Mr. Ungar for his years of public service to Cleveland Heights. Mr. Cobb announced the appointees for the Racial Justice Task Force, which was finalized during executive session. Council approved the 18 appointees: Sherylynn Allan-Harris, Gary Benjamin, Nate Berkey, Demetrius Cheeks, Kasia Bufford, Laura Collins, Mandy Colvin, Reginald Evans, Angelique Gates, Lisa Hunt, Taylor Jones, Rosa Kovacivich, Robert Lampley, Ron Register, Lisa Smith, Randall Walker, Michael Windom, Kalia Johnson, and Akshai Sing. On Mr. Benjamin’s appointment, Ms. Hart recused herself, as he is her husband, and Mr. Seren voted no, citing disapproval of having a task force member with a close tie on council. The task force will meet before the end of June. 

Mr. Cobb reported that President Stein wanted a committee meeting to discuss the Resolution on Civil Immigration Enforcement and asked Mr. Seren for his help to prepare for that meeting.

Mr. Ungar reiterated the importance of National Gun Awareness Day because statistics cited in the resolution clearly demonstrate an epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.

Mr. Seren expressed support for the LGBTQ legislation that came about due to discrimination.

Upcoming meetings include June 14, 6 p.m. to discuss the tax budget, followed by a joint council meeting with Shaker Heights City Council regarding the Horseshoe and Lower Shaker Dams (NEORSD will do a presentation); and a regular meeting on June 21.

LWV Observer: Gail Larson 

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: 

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel:

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 11:44 AM, 07.16.2021