University Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-2-23

OCT. 2, 2023 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Council chambers
  • Staff reports
  • Council action

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and council members Brian J. King, John P. Rach, Sheri Sax, and Win Weizer. Christopher Cooney and Threse Marshall were excused. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; and Luke McConville, law director. The meeting ran for two hours and seven minutes, including an executive session.

Public comment

A resident who had requested a new tree for the tree lawn in front of his home in 2022 requested it again.

A Milton Road homeowner addressed bottleneck issues created by school busses, rubbish trucks, and street parking. Trash pick-up is between 7:50-8:15 a.m. when school buses also come. She offered solutions such as altering trash pick-up times or creating a no parking zone before 8:30 on weekdays. She has created an e-mail for community comment—

Council chambers

Sherri Sax made a statement regarding the gutting of council chambers in City Hall without notice to either employees or council. She raised concerns about the possible lack of asbestos containment, the damage done to a historical building, and the apparent unilateral decision by the mayor.

Staff reports

The law department reported that the eminent domain litigation regarding the building next to City Hall is going to mediation Oct. 26.

The fire department reported that hydrant flushing begins this week and there will be a fire department open house.

The service department reported that SCS Consultants will begin a recycling study the week of Nov. 6 in response to the new ordinance. Service Director Allen Pennington said he will see to getting a tree for the commenter’s tree lawn.

For the building department, John Cheatum, regional manager for Safebuilt, has stepped in as interim head, due to the sudden departure of Dennis Garcia and the planned departure of Amanda Ventura. He decided to step into the slot as no one else was in the pipeline and the position is hard to fill. He will implement solutions to areas needing work. His first priority was to answer all phone calls and emails withing 24 hours and then quickly prioritize issues. He has started looking for expired permits and moving things forward. 

Rach requested creation of a staff directory, which would help the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) and Planning Commission. Weizer requested a flow chart to let residents know whom to contact for specific issues.

The mayor read the city engineer’s report, which noted completion of the 2023 pavement marking, $2,000 under budget; commencement this week of the Saybrook Road water main project excavation; and completion of the driveway aprons for the Silsby, Saybrook, and Washington project, $2,000 under budget.

The economic development department announced a Zoning Review Committee meeting for Oct. 24, 6-8 p.m. at the University Heights Library.

Council actions

Council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. 

Council approved a tentative agreement, similar to that reached with the police, with Service Department Laborers Union 860. 

On second reading, council authorized a two-year contract with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Sax noted that one of the services offered was consultation regarding indoor air quality and urged the mayor to take advantage of that service. 

On emergency, council authorized the transfer of funds from the general fund to the opioid distribution fund. This was a housekeeping matter as acceptance of the opioid funds had been approved Sept. 25, 2023, before the opioid fund was created.

On emergency, council authorized submission of a joint application with Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland to NOACA for work on the Taylor Road corridor, including work on the Cedar-Taylor intersection. A study, completed in 2019 for the four-mile project, called for enhanced sidewalks and bike lanes. Traffic congestion is partly due to parking on the east side of the street and the no left turn. Council discussion raised several issues including a needed crosswalk near a new development, the availability of street parking, and coordination among the developer, Cleveland Heights, and the Taylor Road Business Association, which no longer exists. According to Geoff Englebrecht, director of housing and community development, the grant application is due Friday, but there will be time for stakeholders to meet as ODOT still has to sign off on the street changes.

Council authorized bidding for 2023 fall tree planting. The service department wants to plant 118 trees at a cost of $59,000 to be completed by March 2024.

LWV Observer: Marilyn 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:

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Volume 16, Issue 11, Posted 1:36 PM, 10.19.2023