Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 6-6-22
JUNE 6, 2022
- Public comments - agenda items
- Other public comments
- Mayor’s report
- Horseshoe Lake presentation
- Council actions
- First reading of legislation, no vote
- Council member comments
- Committee of the whole (COW)
Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., Josie Moore, and Davida Russell. Also present was Laurie Wagner, representing the law department. Mr. Cobb functioned as clerk pro temp.
Public comments - agenda items
Nine residents spoke concerning Horseshoe Lake. Those wanting to save the lake and pursue an alternative plan, such as that being proposed by Friends of Horseshoe Lake, claimed the lake is not just for rich people, lamented its loss after having been saved from freeway development so many years ago, and doubted its role for storm water management. Two residents were more neutral. One noted that the contractor will have public engagement meetings; the other felt that the NEORSD plans are reasonable and sensible regarding flood management, water quality, and financial impact, and expressed skepticism of the Friends’ plan.
Sam Bell, chair of the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee, spoke about the committee’s need to call on city staff as resources and for council to take up committee recommendations in a timely manner. He said the committee needs more members and urged residents to apply.
Other public comments
Four residents noted the increasing deer problem. They said the city is beginning to exceed the “cultural carrying capacity” with too many deer per square mile; the animals are causing damage and starting to eat native plants they formerly did not bother. They fear safety concerns presented by dead deer, attacks on humans and pets, and deer ticks. One resident said that the Sustainability Committee recommends a good deer count and a survey of residents. Another speaker urged cooperation with neighboring communities.
A member of the Cleveland Heights Green Team announced Caledonia Day on June 11, which is being presented by the Green Team, Caledonia Cultural Arts, and the Start Right CDC. Activities will celebrate diversity, inclusion, and the environment.
Three residents spoke about the difficulties between the Heights Libraries and the Coventry PEACE Campus, located in the former Coventry Elementary School building and now owned by the library. They asked council to assist them and possibly mediate.
Mayor Seren spoke about Juneteenth and Pride Month, including legislation and city activities. Read his remarks here.
Horseshoe Lake presentation
Friends of Horseshoe Lake presented a progress report on their alternative proposal for a new dam at Horseshoe Lake. The group has hired an attorney, Anthony Coyne, and a geotechnical engineering company, TRC. Council heard a presentation by engineer Shawn McGee from TRC and Mr. Coyne, as well as responses from NEORSD Director of Watershed Programs Frank Greenland. A cleveland.com report on the long presentation can be read online. Council members and the public had an opportunity to ask questions.
On first reading council:
- Amended the 2022 budget, mostly to balance unspent 2021 Community Development Block Grant funds.
- Declared June 2022 as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
- Approved a resolution expressing council’s opposition to proposed Ohio House Bill 616, which seeks to enact legislation regarding the promotion and teaching of divisive or racist concepts in Ohio’s public schools. The bill would require pulling curriculum and materials from schools that disobey or taking away state education funding. Council members commented this will remove autonomy from teachers in their classrooms and cause them to censor reality and history. Public school teachers support this resolution, which will be sent to appropriate elected state officials.
- Approved a resolution expressing council’s strong opposition to proposed Ohio Senate Bill 123 and proposed Ohio House Bills 480 and 598, which will ban all abortions at any time after conception in the State of Ohio if Roe v. Wade is reversed. There will be no exceptions for rape, incest, or a mother’s medical condition. Members expressed council’s belief in the autonomy of women’s lives and bodies and support for individual rights to make their own health care decisions.
- Approved a resolution condemning Ohio House Bill 454, which prohibits affirming health care for Ohio transgender and non-binary youth, denies medical and psychological gender affirming care, and requires personnel to report the child to their parents.
On second reading council:
- Removed director of finance from the role of ex-officio clerk of council.
- Authorized an agreement with Life Force Management, Inc. to provide billing and collection services for city ambulance services.
First reading of legislation, no vote
First readings were presented regarding:
- The appointment of Assessment Equalization Boards, one for estimated assessments for improvement of streets and parkways and the other for street lighting.
- Adoption of the 2023 Tax Budget.
- Acquisition and maintenance of copy machines from Meritech and C.C.T. Financial for five years.
- Prohibition of the use of fireworks in Cleveland Heights on all dates, including certain holidays when state law allows this.
- Amendment of “Fair Practices” to prohibit any psychiatric treatment, including conversion therapy, attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation.
- The establishment, selection, supervision, duties, and compensation of the clerk of council.
- A new city code section of “Non-discrimination in City Contracts” to prohibit contractors from discriminating based on multiple characteristics
- Salary schedules, position classifications, and other compensation, including salary, benefits, and position classification for the new clerk of council.
- Changing city code items referring to “maternity leave” to “paid parental and childbirth leave” for full-time permanent employees. It was noted that the impact of this change on the budget is unknown because it is a new benefit, but it is anticipated to help with hiring and is equitable, values all employees, and will help the city stand out because few cities offer this benefit.
- An amendment to remove city staff from committee membership of the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee. This is to avoid a legal conflict of interest.
- A proclamation of July 2022 as National Parks and Recreation Month.
Council member comments
Mr. Cuda reported that the Housing and Building Committee met that day to learn about working with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank regarding vacant and abandoned properties, and to hear from residents about AirBnB concerns. The next committee meeting will be in August.
Ms. Larson, Public Safety and Health Committee chair, reported that representatives of the fire and police departments were at NobleFest.
Mr. Cobb said there will be an Administrative Services Committee meeting about boards and commissions soon.
Ms. Russell, Community Relations and Recreation Committee chair, noted that pools, summer camps, and basketball all opened today. Cain Park will open June 9.
Committee of the whole (COW)
At the COW, held prior to the regular meeting, discussion of legislation predominated, especially regarding an ordinance establishing standing rules of council, which was pulled from the agenda because it is to be developed more fully at a council retreat to be scheduled soon.
Mayor Seren discussed the difficulty of council members contacting city staff for information without going through the mayor’s office.
A Mayor’s Action Center has been established to shepherd resident calls through the system to resolution. A dedicated staff member is being hired for this office. Most calls seem to be public works questions.
The next regular council meeting will be Tuesday, June 21 ( the city is closed Monday, June 20 for the Juneteenth Holiday).
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