University Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-3-23
JANUARY 3, 2023, regular meeting
- Staff reports
- Mayor’s report
- Council actions
- Moving back to City Hall
- Committee reports
Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; and Dennis Kennedy, finance director. The meeting ran for one hour and twenty minutes.
The State of the City address will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 at the John Carroll University Dolan Science Center. Mayor Brennan presented a preview which included accomplishments such as the lawsuit settlement with Aleksander Shul (noting that the City of University Heights has never rejected a special use permit for a house of worship by this or past administrations) and the achievement of a memorandum of understanding with Macy’s, Target, and the original developer to move forward with changes at University Square. He noted ongoing issues of sustainability, reduced work force, and the need for improvements in trash pick-up and recycling.
Mr. King appointed David Jackson to replace Rick Brown on the charter review commission. Mr. Brown, who was a member of the charter review commission, recently passed away in his sleep. Mayor Brennan said Mr. Brown was a sweetheart of a man and that all are stunned by his loss.
Council tabled a motion to approve a transportation services contract with Senior Transportation Connection, as the proposed contract was omitted in the meeting packet. Mayor Brennan spoke in support of the service noting that Walt Stinson used to serve on the board. Senior Transportation Connection helps seniors stay in their homes and is used for shopping and medical appointments. It made 367 trips for University Heights residents in 2022. The proposed contract is a little more expensive than the last due to increased fuel costs and expenses. Ms. Weiss also expressed support for the service. Mr. Gould asked about other options. Ms. Sax noted that options were slim, and she could see no issues with the contract. Also, there is a 90-day opt out provision.
Council approved a price quote from Starfish for IT Emergency Support through March 31, 2023.
Council approved the proposed reconstruction of the City Hall entrance roof. The original cost was $18,500 but increased to $24,500 after the Architectural Review Board reviewed the proposal presented by McNulty Construction and requested changes.
Moving back to City Hall
Mr. McConville’s research determined that the city must make its facilities ADA accessible. Providing a service to a disabled person that is different from that provided to others makes a remote viewing area discriminatory and non-compliant. In a remote viewing room there must be a sound system that allows for real time public comment. “As effective” is the standard. Mr. McConville hasn’t had time to research comparative case law. While there are still challenges, it may still be possible to move back to city hall.
Council discussed a variety of relevant issues concerning the intelligibility of the recordings, the need to return to City Hall, the expenses that would entail, issues regarding compatibility between school district and city equipment, the value of and difficulties with streaming, and other IT considerations.
Mayor Brennan noted that once the city has an IT contract there will be more options. Legally, in person access is required while streaming is not, and the city may not be able to make meetings both accessible in person and have reliable streaming. The city is about to file an eminent domain action for the property next door to City Hall. There is a meeting room on that property that could be new council chambers and would be accessible to all.
Council approved a motion directing the clerk of council to work with the law department to identify ADA compliant options for returning to city hall.
A Finance Committee report noted that revenues exceeded estimates and actual expenses were under budget.
The Council Economic Development Committee will meet Jan 11 regarding the new contract for city engineer.
A Safety Committee meeting was held with Chagrin Valley Dispatch and member agencies. The committee also reviewed Hadley Road traffic issues. The police chief will work with NOACA regarding street calming and the residents around the empty house can request special attention by officers.
Ms. Weiss announced that a Committee of the Whole meeting on joint facilities and infrastructure will be set in February.
The next council meeting will be Jan. 17. The Finance Committee meets Jan. 30, Zoning Code update committee meets Jan. 25.
LWV Observer: Marilyn Singer.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.universityheights.com/council/
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of University Heights” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA82j5L_CkQxK9cXP_qrXvw/videos