City Council Work Session & Special Meeting, February 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 22, 2019

Present: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Johnston Senturia, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman. Anne Williams was absent.

Also present: CAO Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William Ondrey Gruber, various department heads

The work session began with a presentation by two representatives of Dominion East Ohio’s construction team. Kyle Miller, director of external affairs, and Mike Antonius, manager of gas design, reviewed the company’s five-year “pipeline infrastructure replacement” program. The program’s 25-year plan includes replacement of 5,672 miles of old pipeline (steel, iron and copper dating from before 1960) with hardy plastic pipes. Residents affected by upcoming projects (work on Wicklow Road is getting started now) will be notified before projects start, and they will be handing over responsibility for lines from the street to each house.

In the last 10 years, 19 miles of pipeline have been replaced, and the plan between now and 2022 is to replace 114 more miles. The city collects taxes from Dominion East Ohio based on the company’s “assets in ground.” In 2017, the company paid $512,000 in taxes to Shaker Heights. The company has spent about $13 million on Shaker projects since 2016 and will spend another $6 million in 2019.

The rest of the work session was a discussion of proposed policy and ordinance changes related to regulating “hot works” performed by contractors in the city. The changes were drafted following the 2018 fire at Fernway school, where workers were repairing the roof using torches. Investigators determined that the torch work ignited the fire, and city officials determined that more regulation of this type of work is needed so destructive fires can be prevented.

Following a lengthy discussion of the drafted amendments to the city’s contractor registration ordinances, fire code and building code, Council went into session and voted to adopt the new policy and ordinance changes. The new law, to go into effect in mid-March, tightens requirements for receiving building permits and fire department permits for hot work, which causes 58 percent of fires and 85 percent of civilian deaths each year in the United States. The new law also requires the building department and the fire department to work more closely together when permits are issued and increases contractors’ insurance requirements. Hot work is done mostly on commercial and government buildings, not single homes.

Council also voted to adopt amendments to the city’s ordinances regarding public notification of meetings of public bodies (otherwise known as “sunshine laws”). The new ordinances update and modernize notification by recognizing the ubiquitous use of digital over print communication and the fact that the city’s website is easily accessible and notices are also sent via email and on social media. Postings will still be printed, but few people view them.

Anyone who wishes to be emailed meeting notices may request to be added to the city’s email list, and the price of paper copies of public records is lowered from 10 to 5 cents per page. Digital copies are free.

Agendas, meeting packets, meeting minutes and audio recordings will be posted on the city’s website, ShakerOnline.com, not only for Council meetings, but also for meetings of committees, commissions and most boards. Recordings of meetings of the Architectural Board of Review and Board of Appeals will not be posted (most of those meetings are long and involve individual residents), but they will be available by requests for public records. Agendas and recordings of meetings of city task forces will be posted on the city’s website, but minutes are not prepared following those meetings.

The meeting, which started at 7:15 p.m., adjourned shortly after 9 p.m.

Marcia Goldberg

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