Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 8-2-2021

AUGUST 2, 2021


  • Public comments
  • Staff reports
  • Council action
  • Council member comments


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half.

Public comments

Public comments were presented in person. 

Nancy Peppler, Supervisor of Community and School Partnerships for the CH-UH school district, described the pilot Community Learning Center (CLC) that will start in September at Noble Elementary School. Noble was selected due to the strengths of pre-existing partnerships with the community and the teachers’ union. Ms. Peppler introduced the newly appointed CLC organizer, Kristiaun Copez-Minor. Ms. Copez-Minor will concentrate on battling absenteeism and increasing the number of students operating at grade level to 90 percent of those attending Noble. Mr. Seren said the city will be happy to work with the Noble community on this project.

Six residents expressed support for the Meadowbrook-Lee development and the memo of understanding that city council approved with developer Flaherty and Collins. Commenters said that green space was sufficient and cited a positive impact on businesses and community, and the shortage of market-rate housing. Seven residents and one non-resident opposed the plans because they want a small park to be included, maintained that more green space was needed, and that trees that buffer Cedarbrook would be lost. They also claimed that the project has moved too fast and would lead to gentrification. They asked council to wait until the new mayor is elected, and to provide more opportunities for resident input. Mr. Ungar announced two meetings on Aug. 5 and Aug. 11 when residents can comment on the development. 

The owner of the retail strip plaza at 3970 Mayfield asked the city to move trees that are now covering signs for the plaza’s businesses. Ms. Niermann agreed to discuss it with staff and the property owner. The owner used City Storefront Grants to improve the site.

A resident asked about the status of the Racial Justice Task Force. According to President Stein, the task force is just getting set up and hopes to hold public meetings soon. The resident also supported Heights’s job training, GED programs, awareness of drunk drivers, awareness of LGBTQ hate crimes, and the new Pride Flag with a black stripe.

Sal Russo, president of the Cedar/Fairmount CID, reported that the CID is currently running a deficit of $25,000 due to COVID closures. They have spoken with Flaherty and Collins, Top of the Hill developers, to get their commitment for future support and are asking the city to use its American Rescue Plan funds to fill the current deficit.

A resident asked when the roadblocks at Cedarbrook would be restored to keep cars, police cruisers, and delivery vans from driving down this street that is supposed to be marked “no access.” The resident noted that it is a safety issue.

Staff reports

City Manager Niermann O’Neil announced an Aug. 9 joint meeting of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights city councils on the Horseshoe Lake and Lower Shaker Lake Storm Sewer project. The city staff meets weekly with Shaker Heights to discuss the impact of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s proposal.

Council actions


  • Amended an agreement with Black and Veatch for consulting services connected to the City’s Sanitary Sewer Overflow Control Project. The work required was expanded therefore increasing costs.
  • Amended a grant agreement with Cuyahoga County to fund the Cleveland Heights-SBA Small Business Performance Grant Program. This is a reapplication as the first application was delayed by COVID.
  • Gave the planning commission more time to consider proposed zoning amendments. This ensures that a complete commission would be in place.
  • Updated various sections of Chapter 373, Part Three of the Traffic Code to include language about the proliferation of e-scooters and e-bikes.
  • Authorized an agreement with the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Council (CVD), a regional Council of Governments, to join the joint Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services and to dissolve the Heights Hillcrest Communications Center (HHCC) to allow each member city council to join the CVD. More trained dispatchers will be available when one location needs increased staffing. Police Chief Annette Mecklenberg said 911 response time will be faster.
  • Approved, on emergency, the fact finding recommendations in the matter of the City of Cleveland Heights and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
  • Updated language in Section 107.02(a) Chapter 107 of the Codified Ordinances to reflect that public meetings notices will be posted on the city’s website and on the electronic board at City Hall.
  • Amended the budget to include an increase in grant revenue of $790,000 and an increase in expenses of $200,000 to cover additional overtime in the fire department. 

Procedures for transferring the property at 3424 Beachwood Avenue from the city’s Land Reutilization Program to FutureHeights were presented on first reading. No cost details were provided, so Mr. Seren asked that Housing Director Allan Butler provide more detail in the next council packet.

Council member comments

Mr. Ungar encouraged the public to engage in the planning process for the Meadowbrook-Cedar-Lee mixed use/retail project to be developed by Flaherty and Collins. A meeting on Aug. 5, at the Lee Road Library will cover parking and traffic. A meeting on Aug. 11, in the atrium at City Hall, will address public spaces and connectivity of the project. Citizens can email Planning Director Eric Zamft at with any questions. Mr. Ungar said the project was not a “rush job” as some had indicated during public comment. 

Mr. Cobb said that the housing department and the Novak Consulting Report will be discussed at a Public Safety and Health Committee meeting on August 19. If time, he will also discuss immigration policy.

Mr. Seren noted that the police union contract was approved on emergency because the police had been working without a contract since April 1. The new contract is for three years, and council had to approve or deny it by today. If not approved, it would have become law without council’s input.

Upcoming meetings include a regular council meeting on Aug. 16 (in-person). Also, there will be an Aug. 9 joint meeting with Shaker Heights City Council concerning the NEORSD proposed Shaker Lakes project; Public meetings Aug. 5 and Aug. 11 regarding the Flaherty and Collins project plans for Meadowbrook/Cedar Lee; and a Public Safety and Health Committee August 19 to discuss Housing and Immigration. Details are on the city home page (, scroll down to the calendar).

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 9, Posted 11:26 AM, 08.10.2021