University Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-2-2024
JANUARY 2, 2024 - regular meeting
- Public comments
- City council committee reports
- Council actions
Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Christopher Cooney, Brian J. King, Threse Marshall, John P. Rach, Sheri Sax, and Win Weizer. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; and Dennis Kennedy, finance director. The meeting ran a little over two and one quarter hours.
Before the meeting, the four council members elected in the fall, Rach, Weiss, Weizer, and Marshall, as well as the law director and clerk of council were sworn in. Council elected Ms Weiss as vice mayor and Rach as pro tempore. The vice mayor now presides [over council meetings] as per a charter amendment passed in November.
Referring to an item on this evening’s agenda, a resident asked council to override the mayor’s veto of an ordinance transferring funds to the CIC, saying the transfer of funds to the CIC is a standard practice and should continue.
City council committee reports
Ms. Weiss said that despite the mayor ending 2023 on a negative note with two vetoes (both on this evening’s agenda) council is reaching out to start on a more positive note for 2024. [She said] hopefully the mayor will feel the same and move the city forward.
Finance: Mr. Kennedy had no report, as closing of Dec 2023 and total year 2023 is in process.
Law: Mr. McConville said the city will have a mediation meeting this week regarding the eminent domain case. He requested an executive session at the end of the council meeting to discuss latest developments.
Service: Director Allen Pennington said the service department would conduct the sixth and final leaf collection this week. The tree contractor will begin removals and trimming.
Building: A new chief building official, Mark Patterson, will start Monday, Jan. 8; John Cheatham of Safebuilt will stay a few weeks to help the transition.
Housing/Community Development: Director Geoff Englebrecht said there would be news soon regarding the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) grant application.
Communications/Civic Engagement: University Heights is now on Threads, a social media platform similar to Twitter / X.
Economic Development: Director Susan Drucker said The Sauce, a Cedar Center restaurant, has closed due to a dispute with the property owner, who is already in discussion with another business.
Council renewed the appointments of Ari Jaffe, Kevin Goodman, and Matthew Kaliff to the Board of Zoning Appeals for two-year terms. Council renewed Brian Broadus’ appointment to the Architectural Review Board, to serve the remainder of a two-year term he was appointed to in February 2023.
Council tabled an ordinance to hire a firm for engineering services with Mr. King voting nay. The mayor and Mr. Pennington reviewed the three companies that had bid for the position and WallacePancher Group was their top choice. Council discussed a number of issues including the expectations for the engineer to attend council and committee meetings on request and the increase in the annual retainer fee due to a change in the scope of the work. Council tabled the motion because it had not had a chance to view the three bids and had concerns regarding the fee.
On emergency, council overrode the mayor’s veto of an ordinance authorizing a fund transfer from the General Fund to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) Fund. As a non-profit, the CIC can apply for grants that the city could not. However, council complained that its structure allows the mayor to obstruct projects. Council discussed proposed projects being held up by the mayor and options to change the CIC charter and structure to make it a more effective organization.
On emergency, council overrode the mayor’s veto of an amendment to the city code to increase the vice mayor’s compensation for the term beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
At the request of Police Chief Dustin Rogers, council rescinded the emergency measure of a city code amendment regarding parking penalties, which was presented previously on first reading. Because the police chief wants to be sure his department is prepared to enforce the changes, the ordinance would not be effective until 30 days after passage..
LWV Observer: Tanis Swan.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: www.universityheights.com/council/.
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of University Heights” YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCA82j5L_CkQxK9cXP_qrXvw/videos.