Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights

MARCH 4, 2024 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Mayor’s report
  • Noble Station
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the Whole

Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Tony Cuda, and Council Members Janine Boyd, Craig Cobb, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox Jr., and Jim Petras. Davida Russell was excused. Also present were Addie Balester, clerk of council; William Hanna, law director; and Danny Williams, city administrator. The meeting ran for one and one half hours.

Public comment

A resident asked whether neighborhood places of worship, as described in the zoning code changes, would be exempt from property taxes, encouraged the use of vacant properties as places of worship, and questioned the need for emergency passage.

A resident complained about past exclusion of residents from city planning projects, urged Noble area residents to speak up during the current Noble Road planning process, and criticized the February neighborhood meeting.

With some variation on the scope and tone, seven residents supported a resolution about the Gaza-Israeli war, one opposed, and one urged council to avoid resolutions on international affairs.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education President Jodi Sourini thanked council for authorizing lifeguard funding to support community swimming at the Heights High School pool. A University Heights resident also thanked council and urged speedy implementation.

A resident asked the city to provide data on the Top of the Hill development including The Ascent occupancy rate, projected tax revenue, and revenue actually received.

FutureHeights Executive Director Kristine Pagsuyoin urged the city to make housing preservation a priority. She described the Future Homes housing rehabilitation program, expressed displeasure at the city’s delay in providing more houses for the program, and requested that council work with the mayor to authorize transfer of more homes to Future Heights.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren urged everyone to vote in the March 19 primary election. He thanked those who organized the city’s Black History Month celebration. He recognized and offered condolences on the recent deaths of Senior Center staff Carolyn Neal and volunteer Earlene Starks-Marshall (Ms. Duck). The mayor reported that bids have been received for the Monmouth Road sanitary sewer overflow project and that Febrizi Trucking and Paving’s bid of $2,296,895.90 has been selected.

Noble Station

Paul Volpe and Alex Frazier, representing TWG, presented an overview of the new Noble Station affordable housing development proposed for 2228 Noble Road. They described the community engagement process and how concerns about density, lack of amenities, and neighborhood architectural fit have been addressed.

Council actions

Council acted on the next four items on first reading and as emergency measures.

Council proclaimed April 1–5, 2024 National Community Development Week. 

Council authorized application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trails Program for a grant to support the Doan Brook restoration park improvements and to accept funding if awarded.

Council authorized an agreement with InVeris Training Solutions Inc., to repair and replace the existing targeting system, at a cost of $130,155. The system is used to train police personnel and Police Academy cadets.

Council reappointed Ira-Etta Black and Peter DeGolia as members of the Commission on Aging. 

Several items were offered for first reading only, with no vote, including:

  • An ordinance exempting improvements to the Taylor-Tudor property on South Taylor Road from real property taxation for 30 years; establishing an Urban Redevelopment Tax Increment Equivalent Fund (TIF) for the deposit of service payments in lieu of taxes by developer WXZ; approving a school compensation agreement with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District; and determining the allocation from the TIF fund among the school district, city, and developer, as an emergency measure.
  • An ordinance amending sections of the zoning code regarding community and neighborhood places of worship, as an emergency measure.
  • A resolution authorizing an agreement with Roper Lock Box, LLC to purchase lock boxes at a cost not to exceed $68,887, for a senior residential lock box program. The program would permit fire department access in an emergency, saving low- and moderate-income senior citizens from door repair or replacement expenses. 
  • Three resolutions authorizing purchases for the public works department including 1) a Freightliner 114SD Plus cab and chassis, at a cost not to exceed $125,807, 2) two Freightliner 114SD Plus semi-tractors, at a cost not to exceed $314,680, and 3), a 14-foot stainless steel dump body with salt spreader and plow package (from Gledhill Road Machinery Company), at a cost not to exceed $101,357.17.

Council member comments

Ms. Boyd announced that additional information about the senior lock box program would be provided during an upcoming Public Safety and Health Committee meeting.

Mr. Petras announced that the Housing and Building Committee continues to review the short-term rental legislation. The next meeting will be March 12 at 5 p.m.

Ms. Larson announced that the Finance Committee is reviewing the short-term rental tax. The committee’s next meeting will be March 18 at 5 p.m. The next meeting of the Municipal Services and Environmental Sustainability Committee will be March 18 at 10 a.m. 

Mr. Cobb encouraged people to apply for boards and commissions.

Mr. Cuda expressed dismay at our society’s inability to settle differences peacefully and thanked those who spoke during the meeting and e-mailed council.

Committee of the Whole

During discussion of draft language for a Gaza resolution, all members present expressed their views. These included the desire to bring the community together; the need to be consistent about what international, national, and state issues council addresses through resolutions; the need to be responsive to all segments of the community; the need for such resolutions to be well-informed and balanced; the need to express concern while not losing focus on city issues; and concern that such a statement would have no impact on the war while possibly exacerbating community divisions. Mayor Seren suggested that clarification of the intention of last October’s resolution might be helpful. Ms. Larson will draft a resolution for discussion at the March 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Council met in executive session to consider appointment of a public official.

Mayor Seren offered an update on ARPA allocations to nonprofit organizations. A standardized application and risk-assessment were sent to the nonprofits to be used to create contracts. As each contract is negotiated, it will be submitted to council.

A separate Committee of the Whole meeting will be held March 20, at 10 a.m. to discuss council rules.

Because the 3 percent tax was not included in the original short-term rental legislation, the matter has been referred to the Finance Committee. The Law Department is reviewing comments on the legislation.

LWV Observer: Jill Tatem.

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.gov/1625/City-Council-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.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 12:07 PM, 03.28.2024