LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights [online 9-18-23]

SEPT. 18, 2023 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Mayor’s report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Emergency management recertification
  • Noble Station
  • Other council actions
  • Committee reports
  • 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 was William Hanna, law director. The meeting ran for about two hours and 10 minutes.

Public comments

Four people spoke in favor and 10 against the proposed Noble Station low-income apartment project proposal for 2.08 acres of city owned property at Noble and Woodview roads. Among those in favor were Ryan Kelley, representing the developer, and Jimmie Hicks Jr., executive director of Start Right Community Development Corporation. Mr. Kelley promised that the developer is committed to dialog with the community and would manage the building for at least 15 years. He noted an approaching deadline to apply for state funds. Mr. Hicks, involved since November, admitted he had not pushed to require community meetings. He urged council to approve the development and make a commitment to economic development in the Noble area. The 10 opposing the project gave a myriad of reasons. They said that economic redlining and developmental neglect for 20-30 years cannot be reversed by one apartment building. They criticized the proposal for being crowded into two acres with no mail room, no community space, inadequate playground, too little parking, small apartment sizes, and no assurance that anyone will protect the vulnerable residents. They also cited the rushed presentation, belated public input, and the developer’s poor Better Business Bureau rating. Several urged better housing and code enforcement.

A resident commented that the plaza in front of city hall is inadequately lighted, causing her concerns about safety and aesthetics.

A frequent commenter expressed concerns about the Cleveland Heights High School pool being unavailable to residents and decried the tabling of Council Member Larson’s sidewalk improvement program.

Tony Ramos of NOPEC announced the restart of the electric aggregation program, providing savings to the 23,000 residents who participate, as well as savings on municipal accounts.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren congratulated the safety forces on their recertification for the ReadyCertify Program and announced the acceptance of a bid for the Fairmount/Coventry Sanitary Sewer Overflow Project. He read his response to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s pronouncements regarding LGBTQ students, which he said will put children at risk. He stated Cleveland Heights will protect children in all public and private schools in the city.

Clerk of council’s report

The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has sent two notices for Marotta’s Pizza and Pasta, 2289 Lee Road, and Dollar General, 3070 Mayfield Road.

Emergency management recertification

The Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management presented the city’s first responders with a five-year ReadyCertify Program recertification plaque, as they met benchmark standards of preparedness above and beyond those required.

Noble Station

Council failed to authorize the development agreement with TWG Development for the proposed Noble Station residential development at 2228 Noble Road. Mr. Mattox and Ms. Boyd voted yes, and the others voted no.

Mr. Mattox said he voted yest to keep the conversation open about the future of the Noble area. Ms. Boyd said the decision was tough. She changed her vote to yes when she discovered Start Right CDC was a partner in the development. 

Ms. Larson said she went to meetings, walked the site, and found many reasons this was not the right plan for the site. Ms. Hart, Mr. Cobb, and Mr. Cuda noted inadequate vetting for the project with incomplete information and no community input. Ms. Russell expressed doubts about the developer.

Other council actions

On first reading, council passed a budget adjustment for the 2023 fiscal year, including funding for the design phase of the Doan Brook restoration. Based on area leased from Cleveland, Cleveland Heights will pay 35 percent of the design phase cost with Shaker Heights paying 65 percent.

Amendment to the city code to facilitate a permanent Shared Spaces Program, which will permit outdoor dining, both on private and public property, was presented on first reading with no vote.

On second reading, council advanced funds to the Coventry Village Special Improvement District to be reimbursed by assessment.

On second reading, council requested the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer to advance taxes from the 2023 tax year collection and, for the 2024 tax year, accepted amounts and rates determined by the Budget Commission and authorized the necessary tax levies. 

On second reading and on emergency, council established a policy of providing access to menstrual products by detainees in the Cleveland Heights jail. 

Council recognized October 2023 as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and National Book Month and October 22–28 as National Lead Poisoning Awareness Prevention Week.

Committee reports

Planning and Development: Mr. Mattox thanked staff for their work on Noble Station. Several other projects are under consideration, especially in the Noble neighborhood.

Housing: Mr. Cuda said the committee is working on short term rental legislation.

Community Relations and Recreation: Ms. Russell announced upcoming free events including first aid and CPR classes, the next in the landlord/tenant series, a Women’s Health Expo sponsored by MetroHealth at the Convention Center (for which Metro will provide transportation from the Cleveland Heights facility), and a Pathway to Homeownership Fair.

Municipal Services and Environmental Sustainability: Ms. Larson mentioned Public Works Director Collette Clinkscales’ report on sanitary sewer overflow project progress. She said all recycling is now being processed, but the public works department does not have the capacity to add merchants to the recycling program at this time.

Council President Hart announced that council members may now email department directors directly, with a copy to the mayor.

Committee of the Whole

Council Member Mattox arrived late, at 7 pm. 

Items discussed included a legislative review and presentation of the Youth Advisory Board and Youth Opportunities Unlimited Memorandum of Understanding legislation by Ms. Russell.

Council heard a presentation of the proposed Aquatics Feasibility Study to be conducted by GPD Group. Their representative, Jason Nolde, introduced the teams and consultants to be involved and how they will proceed with the study. The mayor discussed Cumberland Pool’s repair needs, which may take longer and cost more than hoped, possibly impacting a swim season. The study will include indoor and outdoor pools. Discussion will continue at budget hearings this fall.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2021-Agendas-and-Minutes.

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClevelandHeightsOH.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 16, Issue 11, Posted 10:08 AM, 10.27.2023