University Heights City Council meeting 11-7-22

NOVEMBER 7, 2022, regular meeting


  • Mayor’s report
  • City council reports
  • JCU wellness facility plan
  • Other council action 
  • Staff reports
  • Committee reports


Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Barbara Blankfeld was not present. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; Dennis Kennedy, finance director; and Joseph Ciuni, city engineer. The meeting ran for about two hours and twenty minutes.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Brennan reported that on Election Day several precincts had their polling places changed by the board of elections. The precincts that were scheduled to vote at the JCU (John Carroll University) recreation center were moved to JCU Dolan Science Center. The precincts scheduled to vote at the University Heights library were moved to Wiley Middle School. He further reported that former State Representative Barbara Boyd died at age 80 and listed her accomplishments.

He recognized the University Heights Fire Department response to a residence fire on Meadowbrook and described the mutual aid that was received from surrounding communities.

On November 18, the city will recognize exceptional citizens for 2022.

He also commented on the successful season of the Cleveland Heights High School football season.

City council reports

Vice-Mayor and Finance Committee Chair Weiss said the budget meeting is ongoing and continues until November 17.

JCU wellness facility plan

Mayor Brennan made a motion to approve the site plan for John Carroll University’s (JCU) new field house wellness facility. Representatives from the JCU facilities department and the architect made a presentation and answered questions. The site plan had already received contingent approval from the University Heights Planning Commission, which received a more complete presentation with exhibits. 

Mr. Rach, who is a member of the planning commission with Mayor Brennan, commented on differing opinions regarding what could be considered a material change to the site plan and opined that administrative review of the project should occur before council votes on it. He suggested tabling the motion until contingencies concerning access to the buildings on the JCU campus be addressed by the fire and police departments. Mayor Brennan countered that the police department, fire department, and building commissioner all participated in the meeting that resulted in contingent approval.

In response to a question from Mr. Cooney, it was noted that, even with council approval of the contingent plan, no permits could be pulled without fire and police department approval. 

Mr. Rach stated he would like the issue to go back to the building commission because of the lack of fire and police final approval. Both the fire chief and police chief appeared and commented that while they still had reservations, they expected to be able to work with JCU before permits were pulled. The JCU representative offered that work could begin without having the final drawings and permits. Ms. Sax and Mr. Gould both expressed support for the project but believed that safety is paramount and that the contingencies should be addressed in the planning commission. Mr. McConville, in response to a question, affirmed that council had approved contingent plans from the planning commission before but in different circumstances.

Mr. Rach moved to table the motion until administrative review. Mayor Brennan claimed that tabling the motion would be a vote against the project and insults the police and fire departments by assuming they cannot work with JCU to resolve the issues. Mr. Rach responded saying the mayor was trying to intimidate and pressure council. The motion to table was approved with Mr. Cooney and Mr. King voting no. 

Other council action

Council approved the communication contract with Spectrum for voice and internet service.

There was a first reading of the administrative budget.

With the finance director’s recommendation, council authorized continuance of a banking services contract with Dollar Bank until 2025. 

A proposed agreement with Joseph R. Ciuni of GPD Group to serve as city engineer was changed from an on emergency vote to a first reading. Mr. Ciuni was present to discuss increasing the hourly rate and extending the GPD Group contract through 2023. Mr. Rach did not see the new contract in his package and commented that he needed to see it first, as it was his duty to check everything that comes through council. This matter became a first reading, so that all members had the opportunity to review the new contract, the emails attached to it, and the 2022 contract.

Council suspended the rules for required readings and approved transfers from the general fund to specified assessment funds.

Council authorized purchases of a replacement leaf vacuum trailer and a used rubbish truck.

Council voted to enter executive session upon conclusion of the regular meeting for legal and personnel matters. 

Staff reports

The finance department reported on funds in hand, collected funds, projected collections, and expended and unexpended funds.

The service department said that leaf pick-up is proceeding into third round of about five passes through the city. Tree planting will start next week, tree pruning in December.

The city engineer reported three projects including pool painting, Cedar Road signage, and completion of the 2022 road program.

Geoff Engelbrecht, housing and community development, reported on inspections of rental properties and point of sale inspections. He said that a collective grant sought by University Heights, Cleveland Heights, and South Euclid from NOACA for bike lane funding was denied, but the cities will be pursuing other avenues.

Committee reports

Mr. Rach, economic development committee chair, said the committee is planning to start meeting in January. Dates to be determined.

Ms. Weiss, chair of the committee of the whole, reported that the engineering working group has made a lot of progress. The have held two other meetings and need one more.

LWV Observer: Marilyn J. Singer.

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 University Heights” YouTube channel:

Read More on University Heights
Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 1:30 PM, 12.18.2022