University Heights City Council meeting
MARCH 8, 2023, regular meeting
- SB 1 resolution removal from agenda
- Public comment
- Mayor’s report
- City council reports
- Council actions
- Staff reports
- Committee reports
Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Barbara Blankfeld and Christopher Cooney were not present. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; and Joseph Ciuni, city engineer. The meeting ran a little over one hour.
SB 1 resolution removal from agenda
Ms. Weiss moved to remove from the agenda the resolution opposing Ohio Senate Bill 1, which allows the governor to take over the state board of education; she maintained this is not a local issue. Mr. King stated this was both local and nonpartisan. Ms. Blankfeld called the question and council voted to end the discussion with Mr. King voting nay. The item was removed with Mr. King voting nay.
Judy Sourini, Vice-President of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education spoke to support the resolution opposing SB 1, which strips power from the State Board of Education and creates a new cabinet post to run the Department of Education. She reported that it increases the cost of government and bureaucracy, was not requested by the governor, and concentrates power in a political appointee instead of the elected board members. The companion legislation Ohio House Bill 1 will increase taxes and decrease money for local governments.
Mayor Brennan announced that March 4 had been declared K.J. Montgomery Day; he participated in a memorial for Judge Montgomery on that date.
The new Mosaic (UH publication) includes coverage of the Springsteen concert at John Carroll University in 1975.
University Heights Green Team will kick off recycling at the University Heights Branch Library on Sunday March 12.
There will be a City Beautiful meeting on March 15 at Wiley and planning services will be considered.
Last week Mayor Brennan was in Washington, D.C. and met with representatives of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia Fudge. He discussed the exclusion of University Heights (UH) from lead pipe abatement, noting that although UH does not have a contiguous border with Cleveland, it should still be considered a first ring suburb. He also discussed income discrimination issues with HUD officials. HUD has not inspected properties in UH to make them eligible for federal vouchers. He proposed that the city’s rigorous building inspection results be used as provisional condition indicators until a HUD inspection is available, in order to allow vouchers for prospective tenants.
Along with the lobbyists hired by UH, he met with people from Senator Sherrod Brown’s office and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regarding funding for needed sewer projects.
He had the opportunity to use and experience the median bike lanes in D.C. and saw how they could be feasible here.
Mayor Brennan did not sign the ordinance regarding contracting procedures for professional services excluding the position of city engineer. He understands it is already in committee for amendment. The city will lose the current engineer at the end of 2023 without changes to the ordinance. However, under the charter, the engineer is a mayoral appointee, so he will follow the charter, not the ordinance, and appoint an engineer. Without his signature, the ordinance went into effect on Feb. 14, 2023.
He also did not sign the loose recycling ordinance, as the ordinance’s mandate is unfunded and cannot be achieved. The service department would suffer trying to use existing equipment and labor. True modernization would save money; the mandated procedure would not. The ordinance went into effect on March 1, 2023. On March 1, 2023, Service Director Pokorny tendered his letter of resignation effective April 1, 2023. He has served since 2013. The last two searches for the position took six and 14 months to fill.
City council reports
The Committee of the Whole had a robust discussion with the city engineer and that discussion will continue at the next meeting on March 21.
Council amended a communication contract with Spectrum. A representative from Spectrum was present and gave details on the need to amend the contract, as additional phones and service were needed.
Council passed on emergency, an ordinance establishing pay rates for elected officials. The ordinance also clears up ambiguities, caused by the failure to re-visit this in 2018 and 2019 as required by statute, and does not increase pay for currently elected officials.
Council added to the agenda and approved a motion to declare the fire-damaged property at 3873 Meadowbrook a public nuisance. This allows the demolition of the property and the rebuilding process to move forward. The owner has already applied for the demolition permit.
The service department will collect hazardous waste and paper for shredding on March 10 and March 11. The economic development committee indicated there will be a zoning meeting on March 22 from 6-8 pm in the Jardine Room at John Carroll University.
The proposed Chick-Fil-A drive through is no longer on the architectural review board agenda.
Building and Housing will meet 5:30 p.m. before the next council meeting on March 20. The Committee of the Whole meets March 21 at 6 p.m.
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