Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 8-16-2021
AUGUST 16, 2021- Regular Meeting
- Public comments
- City manager report
- Council actions
- Mary Dunbar resigns
- Council member comments
Present were Council Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Council President Jason Stein was absent. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting lasted about an hour and ten minutes.
Three residents urged opposition to the NEORSD plan to destroy the Horseshoe Lake Dam and restore the original Doan Brook stream. They cited financial costs, the environment, and history. They maintained that lakes attract more birds than do streams and that the sewer district manages stormwater, not preservation.
On the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development, two residents expressed concern about emergency medical services' access to the neighborhood, lack of adequate parking in the plans, and the height of the buildings so close to existing homes. Another resident urged a referendum on the project, for which she and others are circulating petitions.
A resident discussed the Taylor Tudor Plaza area planning, the proposed charter amendment for council member replacement, and the need to overhaul the administrative organizational chart.
City manager report
Ms. Niermann O'Neil said staff did everything they could to restore electrical service after recent storms. To improve communication, the city website will soon feature a page banner to update residents. Staff is reviewing vacancies on boards and commissions and will publicize those for appointments.
- Transferred 3424 Beechwood Avenue from the Cleveland Heights Land Reutilization Program to FutureHeights, Inc.
- Approved a pass-through purchase agreement with Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation for the Taylor-Tudor buildings at 1908 and 1912-1926 South Taylor Road for $200 plus closing and transfer costs.
- Approved a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Amato Homes to redevelop single-family homes on city-owned vacant residential lots along Desota Avenue. Mr. Seren expressed reservations, saying some community members were concerned that the new homes may not be marketable.
- Authorized a request for proposals for redevelopment and rehabilitation of 1932-1946 South Taylor Road, also a Taylor-Tudor building.
- Designated the city-owned Bradford Cinder Path as a landmark.
- Changed the name and function of the Transportation Advisory Committee to the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee. They suspended the rules to allow immediate adoption on first reading, as it had not been written as an emergency.
- Amended the 2021 budget to increase fire and police departments salaries based on labor contracts.
- Approved a resolution adopting and supporting the ideals, principles, and engineering and roadway design concepts of Vision Zero, affirming that the acceptable number of annual traffic deaths is zero.
- Accepted the OneOhio Subdivision Settlement of the OneOhio Memorandum of Understanding of the July 21, 2021 National Opioid Settlement Agreement. This agreement with several opioid distributors will yield the city between $121,000 and $173,000 to enhance the safety forces' services in drug related situations. Mr. Ungar, who had been professionally involved in previous litigation, was recused from the vote.
Two ordinances received first reading. The first would change "Maternity Leave" to "Paid Parental and Childbirth Leave" in the city code and update these benefits for full-time permanent employees. This policy was last updated in 1977. The second ordinance would refund certain outstanding bonds, with the maximum principal amount of $1,725,000 for Severance Ring Road improvements, to achieve debt service savings.
Mary Dunbar resigns
Mary Dunbar resigned this evening. She said that after reelection to council in 2019, she had expected to complete her third term through 2023, but in January, 2020, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Despite therapy, her condition is worsening and, as she has no family in Cleveland, she will move in October to an assisted living residence near her son and daughter-in-law in Hanover, NH. The council presented her with a proclamation and all members spoke about working with her on council.
Council member comments
Ms. Dunbar noted the progress made in clearing waste from the old dairy facility on Noble Road.
All members spoke about the recent murder of 13-year old London Hill on Woodview Road. They conveyed condolences to the family and commended the Cleveland Heights Police Department for apprehending one teen suspect. [A second suspect has been arrested since the meeting.]
Responding to citizen requests, Mr. Cobb discussed outlets for public meeting notices such as the library and community center.
Ms. Hart suggested that council hear from experts on the environment and funding options to educate themselves on the NEORSD Horseshoe Lake proposal in order to make a good decision.
Ms. Russell spoke about posting meeting notices in the library. She said that, due to a family emergency, her answers to residents' concerns may be delayed.
Mr. Seren announced that the Administrative Services Committee will meet to discuss the parental leave and FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) legislation. He added that council will begin to accept applications the next day and fill Ms. Dunbar’s seat quickly.
LWV observer, Blanche Valancy
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