Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights

FEBRUARY 21, 2023, regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council actions
  • First readings 
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the whole


Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Janine Boyd, Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present were Addie Balester, clerk of council, and William Hanna, law director. The meeting ran for one and one quarter hours.

Prior to the regular meeting, Mayor Seren swore in two promoted police officers, David Speece as lieutenant, and Ernest Williams as captain and head of the Bureau of Professional Standards. 

Public comments

Meryl Johnson, State Board of Education member for District 11, urged opposition to Senate Bill 1, which would transfer most of the duties of the State Board of Education to the renamed Department of Education and Workforce.

A resident spoke of the need for more traffic calming measures, praised the city for reducing the speed limit on Lee Rd. to 25 mph, and complained that recommendations from the transportation committee have been ignored.

A resident spoke of her frustration at being unable to get a no parking sign installed across from her driveway.

A resident related his recent car jacking experience and praised the police for their response.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren reported that just-promoted Captain Williams was the city’s first Black police captain. As a matter of record, Mayor Seren informed council that the city has received low bids for refuse disposal and water line replacement on East Overlook. The mayor also reminded everyone of the city’s Black History Month celebration at the community center on February 25, noon-5 p.m. 

Council actions

On first reading and on emergency, council authorized cooperation with the Ohio Director of Transportation and appropriated $151,515 for improvements on Monticello Blvd, including traffic signal modifications and curb ramp upgrades. The city’s costs are subject to adjustment when actual costs are determined.

On first reading and on emergency, council approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 1, which would transfer most powers and duties of the State Board of Education to the Governor. 

On second reading and on emergency, council amended, then approved, an ordinance that authorizes the issuance and sale of economic development tax increment financing revenue bonds for the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook project, principal amount not to exceed $14.2 million. 

Council authorized a purchase agreement with John Megel Ford for four 2022 used hybrid police utility vehicles at a cost not to exceed $209,000.

Using a consent agenda, council recognized March 2023 as Red Cross Month and as National Women’s History Month and March 8, 2023 as International Women’s Day.

First readings

Legislation presented on first readings (with no vote) include:

  • An ordinance amending sections of part eleven of the zoning code, related to private parking garages, driveway widths, fences, window transparency, rain barrels and gardens, non-conformities, public notice requirements, and fees. After the planning commission and Council’s Planning and Development committee review the legislation, there will be a public hearing.
  • An ordinance amending part thirteen of the building code related to rain barrels and gardens.
  • A resolution authorizing an agreement with the Home Repair Resource Center for the use of up to $44,000 of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME Funds to administer the city’s down payment assistance loan program, to become effective immediately upon passage.
  • An ordinance amending city code section 505.06, sub-section a, “Animals Prohibited in Public Parks,” to permit dogs in city parks provided they are kept on a leash of no more than six feet, properly cared for, and cleaned up after. They may not enter playground areas, tennis and basketball courts, ballfields, picnic shelters, swimming pool premises, splash parks, community gardens, sledding hills, or areas planted with flowers, shrubs or decorative vegetation. The mayor may prohibit dogs during public events provided signs are erected during prohibited times.
  • A resolution authorizing an agreement with the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (SID), Inc. for the advancement of city funds to the SID for a public services plan. A previously approved assessment tax of $120,000 annually for three years on participating properties within the Cedar Fairmount SID will reimburse the city.

Council member comments

Mr. Cuda, reporting that the housing court had fined the Roosevelt apartments owner, suggested that this represents progress in holding landlords accountable. He asked about the status of the sidewalk dining program and whether council needs to take action. Mayor Seren responded that the shared spaces program would be brought to council when legislation is ready. Mr. Cuda also asked whether council could accept online public comments and questions during council meetings. Ms. Hart responded that the matter could be added to a committee of the whole agenda for discussion.

Ms. Larson reported that the Public Safety and Health Committee continues to work on sidewalk repair and snow removal programs. She noted that Mayor Seren and Noble Elementary School Principal Carpenter held a second meeting February 17 regarding traffic problems near the school. She reported on clean-up efforts in the Caledonia ravine. Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, in collaboration with Bluestone, Cleveland Heights Green Team, Heights Tree People, and others, is developing a climate-resilient model for similar environmentally sensitive areas and to restore the neighborhood tree canopy.

Ms. Russell announced that the next You Talk, I Listen meeting regarding landlord tenant laws will be March 4, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Disciples Christian Church, 3663 Mayfield Rd. She invited those interested in the proposed changes to dog-walking laws in city parks to attend the next Community Relations and Recreation Committee meeting on March 6.

Ms. Hart encouraged residents to nominate Cleveland Heights women who have made a difference in the community for the Amazing Women of Cleveland Heights awards. Awards will be presented during the Women’s History Month celebration on March 23 at the community center. Nominations will be accepted until March 13.

Committee of the whole
(Unless noted otherwise, COW meets prior to the council meeting)

Nancy Levin, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Libraries Director, updated council on the library’s 2023-2025 strategic plan, highlighting diversity equity inclusion goals; community workforce and technology skills development programs; efforts to combat censorship and disinformation; and safety, security, and mental health programs. Of immediate concern are pedestrian safety at the Lee Road Library and traffic at the Noble Neighborhood Branch Library. She also described the status of satellite locations and services during the Noble library renovation. She also described plans for the Peace Campus at Coventry.

Mike Thomas, Director of Communications and Public Engagement, reported on the results of the ARPA community surveys. Finance Director Andrew Unetic reported on the status of ARPA funds.

An executive session was held to consider the appointment of a public official.

Mr. Cuda moved that Mayor Seren’s nominations to the Charter Review Commission be made before council makes its nominations. After discussion, the motion was tabled.

LWV Observer: Jill Tatem.

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:

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 04.02.2023