University Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-18-2023

DECEMBER 18, 2023 - regular meeting

  • Mayor’s report
  • City council committee reports
  • Council actions
  • Staff reports

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, and council members Michele Weiss (vice mayor), Christopher Cooney, Threse Marshall, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, Sheri Sax, and Win Weizer. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; Dennis Kennedy; finance director; and Joe Ciuni, city engineer. The meeting ran about three and one quarter hours.

Mayor’s report

The mayor previewed the Jan. 2, 2024 meeting. There are three nominees for seats on the Board of Zoning Appeals. Three firms applied for the city engineer position; the mayor is nominating the Wallace Pancher Group Company. He will nominate someone for the Architectural Review Board. The recent city charter change means this is his final council meeting as presiding officer. He will continue to sponsor legislation. The clerk of council will prepare the agenda. He hopes to be part of the process to select the new law director, as the current law director’s term expires March 31. He noted that the Charter Review Commission had recommended a charter change to allow the mayor to appoint the law director with council approval, but council declined to put that on the ballot.

City council committee reports

Vice Mayor Wiess said council will advertise for a new law director and select one before March 31. 

Mr. Cooney apologized for his recent absences. A personal situation, which is being resolved, affected his schedule. He acknowledged his lack of communication to his colleagues but stated it was inappropriate for council to press for more information and unprofessional of Ms. Sax to publicly call out his absences.

The Building and Housing Committee is continuing a contractual discussion with SAFEbuilt and discussing the possible increase in permit fees. 

The Recreation Committee will meet [Jan.] 12 to discuss tennis court repairs and pool resources.

The Service and Utilities Committee will meet Jan. 16, when SCS Engineering will present its findings on the recycling situation and compliance with the new recycling ordinance.

The Committee of the Whole continues to discuss ranked choice voting with the county board of elections. Council will continue the discussion during their council retreat.

Council actions

Council passed resolutions recognizing the service of former Mayor Susan Infeld and retiring City Engineer Joe Ciuni. The gazebo in Walter Stinson Park was dedicated to Mayor Infeld.

Council renewed the city’s medical and dental insurance contracts with Medical Mutual.

Council approved the Planning Commission’s recommendations related to parking lot expansion at 2500 Green Road.

Council passed a motion to extend the Human Resources contract with Clemons Nelson for another 12 months, with Mr. Rach voting nay. Neither the administration nor the principals at Clemons Nelson were aware that, under the previous contract, the representative assigned to the city had caused a cost overrun of $34,000. Clemons Nelson was aware that additional oversight was needed on its part and cut the bill in half. The contract was renewed at an amount not to exceed $65,252.

Council amended Chapter 220, as well as other chapters, of the city code to comply with new charter amendments.

A new ordinance for parking violation penalties was presented on first reading.

On emergency, council amended the vice-mayor’s compensation due to the new duties that charter changes assigned to the vice mayor.

On emergency, council amended the contract with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) for the E. Scarborough/Canterbury sewer, allowing for additional cost sharing from the NEORSD when costs increase. The city will pay any additional costs, which the sewer district will reimburse.

A contract with Cuyahoga County to resurface Warrensville Center Road was presented on first reading.

On emergency, council extended Law Director McConville’s contract for three months while council finds a new law director. Ms. Sax expressed dismay at Mr. McConville’s resignation. The vice mayor will work with the clerk of council to be available for interviews for the position. Ms. Weiss stated she hoped the mayor would be invited to any interview.

On emergency, council appointed Mike Cicero as city prosecutor and assistant law director and Kelly Thomas as clerk of council, both for another two years.

Council authorized, on emergency, a transportation services contract with Senior Transportation Connection.

Council authorized, on emergency, a transfer of funds from the General Fund to the CIC Fund, the Street Maintenance Fund, University Square “TIF” Fund, and Capital Improvement Fund. The finance director said that, except for the CIC, these amounts would be recouped after reimbursements from other jobs. 

Council authorized, on emergency, the final 2023 appropriations. These figures have to be filed with the county during the first week of January 2024.

Council approved the tree pruning and removal bid from Parks Tree in an amount not to exceed $49,668.

Staff reports

Finance: Mr. Kennedy sent a series of reports to council today; he is available for any questions

Law: Mr. McConville thanked the mayor, council, and the city for the opportunity to serve over the last nine years. With his contract coming up for renewal he felt now was a good time to transition out of the position as he has new opportunities in his law practice. He plans to give a substantive report in executive session.

City Engineer: Mr. Ciuni presented his last report, as his term concludes Dec. 31. The Canterbury sewer project is 90 percent complete with sidewalk and street repairs remaining. 

Economic Development: Ms. Drucker spoke about the Dec. l7 application by John Carroll University (JCU) to rezone the former BP station property at Fairmount Circle for parking. The committee voted down the application after a healthy discussion. The city needs to see a bigger picture of JCU’s vision for the gateway to the city.

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 17, Issue 2, Posted 2:49 PM, 01.30.2024