April 4, 2022 CoW and City Council Meetings

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Legislation Passed

A Resolution proclaiming April 11-15, 2022 to be National Community Development Week.

A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be National Poetry Month.

A Resolution proclaiming April 3-9, 2022 to be National Library Week.

A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be Autism Awareness Month; and April 2, 2022 to be World Autism Awareness Day.

A Resolution joining with HUD and other communities throughout the nation in the observation of April as Fair Housing Month; reaffirming the City of Cleveland Heights’ commitment to open housing.

An Ordinance authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2022 Energized Community Grant(s) Funds.

An ordinance to amend certain subparagraphs of Ordinance No. 139-2021 (F), relating to appropriations and other expenditures of the City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022.

Committee of the Whole

You can find the agenda HERE and the council packet for the week HERE. You can watch a video of the meeting HERE.

Council President Melody Hart called the meeting to order. The Clerk of Council called roll. Present: Hart, Cobb, Moore, Cuda, Mattox, Larson.

Agenda Item 1: Legislation Review/Caucus

Finance Director Himmelein reviewed the budget appropriations before council in Ordinance 039-2022. (You can find the appropriations on page 45 of the packet HERE.) She noted that none of the changes have a net effect to the budget—they do not change the bottom line—because all but one are transfers from one fund (i.e., the General fund and the ALS Ambulance Services fund) to another (i.e., Finance, Police Administration, Animal Protection, etc.), and the other is covered by grant funds (CDBG funds).

Council Vice President Cobb asked about a ~$160,000 figure he recalled Finance Director referencing in an email. Himmelein asked if he meant a ~$156k figure; Cobb confirmed. Himmelein said that number is what the City has budgeted in revenue minus what the City has budgeted in the general fund only, so this difference—~$156k—is available to be budgeted elsewhere and would be an increase in the budget without going over projected revenue.

Law Director Bill Hanna then reviewed Resolution 040-2022 (declaring the necessity of assessing a portion of the expense of street lighting) and Resolution 041-2022 (declaring the necessity of assessing a portion of the expense of improvement of streets and parkways including grading, draining, curbing, paving, repaving, repairing, sweeping or cleaning thereof, removing snow therefrom, and planting, maintaining and removing shade trees thereon). Both resolutions are for first reading only (no vote needed that night).

Hanna noted and confirmed with Himmelein that these assessments both expire at the end of 2022 (see page 2 of the packet HERE), and these resolutions would extend the special assessment levies for 2023 and 2024 and were last increased in 2014. Hanna and Himmelein stated that the rate moving forward is the same as the previous (last year’s) rate. Himmelein shared that they analyzed current and projected spending and determined that an increase is not currently needed but will likely be needed soon.

Council President Hart asked Hanna to review Ordinance 042-2022, which would amend Chapter 107, “Public Meetings,” of the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland Heights by providing that the City may enter into executive session for the purposes identified in Section 107.01 or for any purpose allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.

Hanna explained that this ordinance expands the different allowable reasons to enter executive session as established by the City’s current codes (found at 107.1) to include any other reasons allowed by Ohio Revised Code. Hanna noted that this ordinance would allow us to include any further reasons adopted by the ORC in the future (Section 9: “Any matter for which an executive session may be held pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code.”), stating that this allows the City to “future-proof” this City code.

Councilmember Cuda asked whether this provision was in the code at some earlier time; Hanna said it was not.

Councilmember Russell asked the specifics of the ORC that the City is adding. Hanna replied that all the reasons for entering executive session outlined in the ORC can be found in 121.22G, which include the provisions in the proposed ordinance. He said that the City also has some provisions that are not in the ORC, which is why our code does not simply point to the ORC in this matter. Hanna said that the provisions in the ordinance leading up to Section 9 are the reasons the City currently use to enter executive session. Councilmember Russell confirmed with Hanna that the only addition to our code is Section 9.

Councilmember Cuda asked whether there is something in the ORC that the City’s code does include that compelled this ordinance. Hanna stated that the ORC will allow the City, for example, to discuss in executive session certain types of economic development incentive requests from developers, which has been in the ORC for a number of years and is not currently available to the City. Hanna emphasized that the point of this legislation is not to allow only this example but to ensure the City can use ORC provisions if and when those change in the future.

Councilmember Russell asked what would happen if there is a reason for executive session covered by the ORC but Council determines they want to discuss the matter in a public meeting. Hanna replied that council must vote to enter executive session every time; if a majority don’t want to enter executive session, they can simply vote no. He added that for the discussion of economic development in executive session, the vote must be unanimous. Hanna clarified that none of the reasons for executive session require executive session, with the possible exception of information that must be kept confidential by law.

Mayor Seren added that when entering executive session, the reason for the executive session must be clearly stated.

Council President Hart then reviewed the pieces of legislation on second reading (will be voted on that night): Ordinance 037-2022 (authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2022 Energized Community Grant(s) Funds), and then the rest, which would be passed via a consent agenda (a meeting technique for addressing multiple topics in a single agenda item):

  • Resolution 030-2022, proclaiming April 11-15, 2022 to be National Community Development Week.
  • Resolution 032-2022, proclaiming April 2022 to be National Poetry Month.
  • Resolution 033-2022, proclaiming April 3-9, 2022 to be National Library Week.
  • Resolution 034-2022, proclaiming April 2022 to be Autism Awareness Month and April 2, 2022 to be World Autism Awareness Day.
  • Resolution 035-2022, joining with HUD and other communities throughout the nation in the observation of April as Fair Housing Month and reaffirming the City of Cleveland Heights’ commitment to open housing.

Law Director Hanna explained the procedure for the consent agenda. The Clerk of Council (Himmelein) will read all the legislation. If any councilmember has an objection to any piece of the consent agenda, that item will be pulled from the consent agenda to be discussed and voted on separately. After the legislation has been read, a councilmember will move to suspend the rules; after council votes to suspend the rules, a councilmember will move to adopt the consent agenda. After all councilmembers have voted to adopt the consent agenda, then all the legislation in it will have been passed.

Agenda Item 2: Designation of Council Liaisons to the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee

Council President Hart stated that during “new business” of the council meeting, she will be appointing Councilmembers Moore and Larson as liaisons to the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Moore asked Hart if she would also be making the council appointment to the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership Board of Trustees, which designates a board seat to a councilmember of all three watershed municipalities. Hart said she would. Mayor Seren asked whether that appointment would be done by motion or resolution. Hart asked the law director which would be more appropriate, and Hanna replied it could be done either way but does not know if there is a practice established. Mayor Seren said it has generally been done by motion, but he is concerned with keeping track of when someone is appointed; Hanna agreed it is easier to keep track of when someone is appointed if there are documents, such as a resolution. Hart agreed, and Hanna stated he would have a resolution for the appointment at the next council meeting on April 18.

Agenda Item 3: Cleveland State Nursing Program—Community Gardens

Council President Hart reviewed a presentation (on pages 3–25 of the packet) from the Cleveland State Nursing Program, which discusses the lack of access to healthful foods in the 44112 zip code of Cleveland Heights. Hart explained that, after her in-person discussion with representatives of the nurses, she was speaking with Councilmember Mattox and learned he had been doing work (as part of his role as a pastor) in the area, trying to secure land for community gardens, such as land on school or church properties. She asked him to present on what he has learned in this work.

Councilmember Mattox explained that this area is in a food desert, and there have been issues with Save A Lot, and people have been trying to challenge them to carry more healthful options. He stated that his church has been working with several organizations in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland in an effort to combat the lack of access to healthy food but to do so in a way that does not stifle development in the area. They have been in discussions with schools, churches, and large commercial properties about the possibility of them donating sections of land for gardens and training.

Councilmember Mattox discussed an initiative his church and partner organizations are working on, which they’re calling “mini-mobile community gardens”—essentially, donating boxes they can use for small gardens in their yard or on a porch or balcony. These include seeds and soil as well as training on how to grow and prepare the food they grow. Mattox then highlighted that there are many possibilities for the City to partner with East Cleveland and other area organizations to increase access to healthy foods in this area, and that by working together and coordinating efforts, including finding grant opportunities, could maximize impact. He also stated that some organizations are working to bring another grocery store to the area as well.

Councilmember Russell mentioned that she has been in conversation with a councilmember from South Euclid about a food market; Russell and Mattox agreed that they will coordinate the work they are doing.

Council President Hart mentioned Councilmember Moore has been working on a similar endeavor. Moore explained that a couple of residents have reached out to her because they are part of neighborhood groups that wish to put community gardens or other community development spaces on vacant lots in their area; however, within the Planning Department there is currently no (1) rubric for determining in a methodological way which lots are good candidates for infill development and might be well suited for community development spaces, and (2) process for residents/community groups to take responsibility for developing and maintaining a lot if it is determined to be appropriate for a community development space.

Moore stated that she understands that moving forward with putting this rubric and process in place would require collaboration among multiple council committees as well as with the Planning Department. She expressed hope that that collaboration can begin soon.

Councilmember Russell stated that another consideration is a plan for what happens if/when residents who develop a lot for this purpose in time stop maintaining it. Moore agreed that planning for that possibility needs to be discussed in this planning and collaboration process.

Council President Hart noted that community gardens also require being fenced in, being watered, and liability insurance. Moore stated that it’s important to understand that the residents looking at these spaces are not considering them solely for vegetable gardens, that some want them to be parks because in addition to food deserts, there are park deserts in the city (areas that are not in walking distance of a park).

Moore also said that a well-developed neighborhood gathering space can help build neighborhood cohesiveness, and studies have shown that this increases neighborhood safety. Moore reiterated that collaboration among council committees and the Planning Department is needed to clarify goals, create a rubric for decision making about lots, and develop a process for residents/neighborhood groups interested in these projects.

Councilmember Larson said she was excited to see the report from the nurses, noting that Save A Lot’s offerings to area residents were not sufficient and she’d like to see the store work with organizations to improve. Councilmembers Russell and Mattox stated that Save A Lot has been sold, and there is hope that this will result in better offerings. Councilmember Cuda reiterated that he hopes that the City and other organizations can work with the store to improve what they offer and how they present their products in the store.

Councilmember Cuda asked whether council could receive an update on the status of infill housing; Mayor Seren said he can provide that at an upcoming meeting.

Council President Hart then adjourned the meeting.

City Council Meeting

You can find the agenda HERE, a synopsis of the legislation that was read HERE, and the council packet for the week HERE. You can watch a video of the meeting HERE.

Council President Hart called the meeting called to order.

The Clerk of Council called the roll: Present: Hart, Cobb, Russell, Moore, Cuda, Mattox, Larson. The Clerk of Council confirmed there is a quorum.

Council President Hart approved the meeting minutes of February 7, 2022, as amended.

Hart opened personal communications from our citizens on topics relating to agenda items only. The Clerk of Council announced that no residents had signed up to speak on agenda items. Council President Hart then closed public comments on agenda items.

Council President Hart called for Communications from the Mayor. Mayor Kahlil Seren congratulated our City’s new Chief of Police, Chief Chris Britton, and expressed gratitude for the decades of service for the City’s outgoing chief, Chief Annette Mecklenburg.

Council President Hart called for Report of the Clerk of Council; Clerk of Council Himmelein had nothing to report.

Council President Hart then opened the presentation of legislation on first reading. She noted that the format of presenting legislation has been changed from being organized by committee to being organized by first readings only, first readings for passage, and second readings of legislation.

As chair of the Finance Committee, Council President Hart presented the following legislation, on first reading but being moved for passage:

  • Ordinance 039-2022: First Reading. An ordinance to amend certain subparagraphs of Ordinance No. 139-2021 (F), relating to appropriations and other expenditures of the City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022 and declaring an emergency. Passed 7–0

As chair of the Finance Committee, Council President Hart presented the following legislation, on first reading only:

  • Resolution 040-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution declaring the necessity of assessing a portion of the expense of street lighting; and declaring an emergency.
  • Resolution 041-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution declaring the necessity of assessing a portion of the expense of improvement of streets and parkways including grading, draining, curbing, paving, repaving, repairing, sweeping or cleaning thereof, removing snow therefrom, and planting, maintaining and removing shade trees thereon; and declaring an emergency.

As chair of the Administrative Services Committee, Council Vice President Cobb presented the following legislation, on first reading only:

  • Ordinance 042-2022: First Reading Only. An Ordinance amending Chapter 107, “Public Meetings,” of the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland Heights by providing that the City may enter into executive session for the purposes identified in Section 107.01 or for any purpose allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.

Council President Hart then opened the presentation of legislation on second reading.

As chair of the Municipal Services Committee, Councilmember Moore presented the following legislation, on second reading and being moved for passage:

  • Ordinance 037-2022: Second Reading. An Ordinance authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2022 Energized Community Grant(s) Funds; and declaring an emergency. Passed 7-0

Council President Hart then introduced legislation for the consent agenda. The clerk of council read the following:

  • Resolution 030-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution proclaiming April 11-15, 2022 to be National Community Development Week; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
  • Resolution 032-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be National Poetry Month; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
  • Resolution 033-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution proclaiming April 3-9, 2022 to be National Library Week; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
  • Resolution 034-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be Autism Awareness Month; and April 2, 2022 to be World Autism Awareness Day; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
  • Resolution 035-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution joining with HUD and other communities throughout the nation in the observation of April as Fair Housing Month; reaffirming the City of Cleveland Heights’ commitment to open housing; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.

Council voted unanimously to suspend the rules for the consent agenda. Council then voted to adopt all legislation in the consent agenda. Passed 7-0

Council President Hart then called for committee reports.

Councilmember Larson, for the Public Safety and Health Committee, reported that there will be a committee meeting on April 18 at 5:00pm. (You can find the agenda HERE and watch the meeting live HERE.) Larson also announced that there will be public hearing on proposed lead-safe legislation on April 25 at 7:30pm in Council Chambers.

Council Vice President Cobb, for the Administrative Services Committee, reported that in a continuing effort to populate the City’s citizen boards, commissions, and committees, Cobb recommended and council unanimously voted for:

  • For the Commission on Aging, council appointed Drew Herzig and Joquine Martin. Cobb announced that the Commission on Aging still has vacancies and encouraged residents to apply.
  • For the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee, Cobb stated that, due to a misunderstanding, at a previous meeting council reappointed people who are no longer on the committee, so council rescinded the appointments of the following: Marc Lefkowitz, Chris Cummings, and Jeffrey Bendix. Council reappointed Laura Marks. Cobb stated there are still vacancies that the Administrative Services Committee is working on filling.
  • For the Board of Zoning Appeals, council appointed Thomas Hodgkiss.
  • For the Planning Commission, council appointed Judith Miles. Cobb stated there remains one vacancy that the Administrative Services Committee is working on filling.
  • For the Citizens Advisory Committee, council voted to reappoint Gretchen Mettler, Bradley Eckert, Christine Henry, Jonathan Goldman, Lee Barbee, Andre Witt, Allison McCallum, T. Nadas, Laura Black, Susan Efroymson, Jessica Schantz, Marc Lefkowitz, Patti Substelny, and Al Snodgrass. Cobb stated there remains vacancies that the Administrative Services Committee is working on filling, noting the City needs applicants from the Millikin and Taylor neighborhoods.
  • For the Landmark Commission, council appointed Benjamin Sperry.

Councilmember Russell, for the Community Relations and Recreation Committee, reported that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting will be held on April 19 at 6:30pm at the Community Center; the Commission on Aging will meet on April 15 at 9:30pm at the Senior Activity Center, and Community Relations and Recreation Committee of Council will meet on May 2 at 10:00am at City Hall in the Executive Conference Room (you can tune in HERE).

Jointly, Councilmembers Russell and Mattox announced the MetroHealth Minority Men’s Health Fair, which will be on April 28 at 5:00pm. (You can find more information and locations HERE.)

Council President Hart, for the Finance Committee, reported that the next Committee of the Whole meeting (April 18, which you can watch HERE), will be earlier than usual, at 6:00pm, so council can receive a report from the Finance Director to review the 2021 finance report and to recap the 2022 budget.

Councilmember Cuda, for the Housing and Building Committee, reported that the committee met that day, where a guest, Ben Greenberg, discussed nuisance abatement and possible remedies of vacant and abandoned housing. The committee will follow up with a work session on April 20 at 9:00am (you can see the agenda HERE and tune in live HERE). The next regularly scheduled meeting will be on May 2 at 5:00pm (you can tune in HERE).

Councilmember Moore, for the Municipal Services Committee, reported that the previous Monday the committee met and discussed:

  • reissuing an RFP for a Municipal Broadband Feasibility Study (a process that began in mid-2019, fielding nine proposals, but progress was halted in March 2020 when the pandemic hit);
  • possibilities for a City-coordinated sidewalk repair and leveling program, which would ensure safe, quality sidewalks across the city in an effective and cost-efficient way;
  • tree planting, care, and maintenance on tree lawns, and how we can increase our tree canopy, particularly in areas where it is thinnest; and
  • possible actions to increase snow shoveling of sidewalks, beginning a conversation that we hope to continue so we have action items ready by next winter.

Councilmember Mattox, for the Planning and Economic Development Committee, reported that there will be Planning and Economic Development meeting soon, where all of the current development projects across the city will be discussed, as well as what council can do to spur development and growth in targeted areas.

Hart then opened personal communications from our citizens on topics not relating to agenda items. The Clerk of Council announced residents who had signed in to speak.

  • One resident announced on behalf of the League of Women Voters to announce, together with the Heights Libraries, a public forum on ballot issue 9 regarding the public activity park on April 6. (You can watch the forum that occurred HERE.) The election will be on May 3.
  • One resident urged the City of Cleveland Heights to prioritize the creation of a comprehensive climate action plan, noting that doing so will help the City in many ways beyond exclusively environmental issues. A climate action plan is a master plan of sorts that will allow us to see how the parts are related to the whole to increase the city’s resilience, and it will enable individuals or groups to work on separate parts of the effort, knowing that others are working on other parts. She noted that sustainability is not just about the environment but rather about the interrelationship of all our needs.

Council President Hart then opened the floor for discussion of old business. There was no old business.

Council President Hart then opened the floor for discussion of new business. There was no new business.

Council President Hart then opened the floor for councilmember comments.

Councilmember Cuda expressed gratitude for the recent council retreat on April 2, where councilmembers each shared their vision for the future of Cleveland Heights and discussed improved communication with each other and the City administration.

Councilmember Moore shared that the Cleveland Heights Green Team is partnering with MedWish to collect unused medical supplies and equipment that will be sent to Ukraine. This both saves these unneeded medical supplies and equipment from the landfill and acts upon our City’s commitment to supporting Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. You can find a list of accepted items HERE, which you can drop off at the Heights Sustainability Fair at the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park on April 23 between 1:00 and 4:00pm.

Council President Hart then gave the Council President’s Report, reiterated that council held a retreat, where we conducted a visioning session for the future of our city and began a conversation how council can best work together to reach our goals. Council will have another retreat on May 14 to continue the conversation and lay out specific goals for the coming year to help us work toward our shared vision.

Hart also announced a joint meeting among the Cleveland Heights government, the University Heights government, the Cleveland Heights–University Heights School District, and the Cleveland Heights–University Heights libraries. That was held on April 6 at the Cleveland Heights Community Center. There will be other joint meetings on June 29 and October 26.

Council President Hart then adjourned the meeting.