Observer Reports

Board of Education, May 8, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
May 8, 2018

Present: Board members William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Treasurer Bryan Christman
Absent: Board member Jeff Isaacs

The meeting was called to order by Board Vice President William Clawson at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

The meeting began with recognition of student awards by Shaker Heights High School Principal Jonathan Kuenle and senior student Brian Jones Ford. The regular meeting followed:

  1. The minutes from the April 10 regular board meeting were approved unanimously.
  2. Recognition/Honors of Staff/Students: Ten Chinese language students placed either first, second or third in the Fifth Annual Ohio K-12 Chinese Speech and Essay Contest. The Theatre Arts Department and student performers of Carrie: The Musical were nominated for four Dazzle Awards. The Middle School eighth-grade team finished first and seventh-grade team took second at the PenOhio regional tournament on April 21. Senior Trisha Roy is a recipient of the Eminence Scholarship at The Ohio State University. Senior Daniel Crouse was awarded a National Merit Scholarship sponsored by Rockwell Automation. The Shaker Schools Communications Department received seven awards from the Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA), the most of any public school district in Ohio. Measuring What Matters was recognized as the top publication of its type in the state and The Shaker Connection was recognized as the top e-newsletter in Ohio. Sixty-two French language students earned recognition on the National French Contest. Northwestern University honored high school journalism teacher Natalie Sekicky with a Distinguished Secondary Teacher Award (DSTA). Ms. Sekicky is one of only five teachers nationwide who will receive the award this year. The SHHS Crew Team rowed their way to three gold, two silver, and one bronze medal at the 54th Hebda Cup Regatta in Wyandotte, Mich. Shaker Crew is one of only two public school crew teams in the state.
  3. Four senior student members presented the Superintendent’s Students Advisory Council Annual Update. Ms. Weingart asked several questions regarding the process used by this advisory council to recruit and choose new members and how student issues were resolved with the superintendent and communicated back to students. The students said the process was still informal. Mr. Clawson wished to learn if the “flex nights” program had been successful; the students felt this program had not reduced study loads. The students agreed to recommend changes for improvement. Ms. Cremer asked a question of the student group: Did they have recommendations regarding equity/discrimination in the school? Ose Arheghan, a member of this student advisory council and Shaker LWV Legacy Fellow, offered an account of discrimination and inequities that occur in hallways during transition between classrooms. She said incidents between students were usually resolved equitably by administrators, but that reports of incidents between students and school employees were not always handled as well. Dr. Hutchings said he was humbled by this honest report. The audience applauded this interchange.
  4. Dr. Hutchings presented his Superintendent’s Report, which included an update of the four options proposed at the April 10 meeting to address declining enrollment (you can see all four options by clicking on the Superintendent’s Report link). The update now includes the reduction of three administrative and two clerical positions in options #3 and #4.  Dr. Hutchings, Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden, and Treasurer Bryan Christman offered to answer the board’s questions. Ms. Bell Hardaway and Ms. Weingart wondered why the details of positions reduced at each school did not match system-wide totals. Dr. Breeden and Mr. Christman answered questions about enrollment projections and the forecast methodology, which is based on U.S. Department of Education models using data specific to Shaker Heights. Reassignments are forecast between schools in order to match specific needs regarding class size, subject matter, and critical need, which is not apparent in the total number. Mr. Clawson said that the forecast methodology is based on three factors: birth rates, new households, and mobility; new households would be affected more by aging population in Shaker rather than new building, while mobility has been consistent for decades in Shaker. The school administration had tested the model on 10 years of historical data and found only 1 percent to 2 percent error to actual experience, so Shaker is very predictable. Ms. Cremer expressed alarm about the significant increase in class size resulting from the proposed attrition & reductions, specifically the documented correlation of student outcomes and class size. She also expressed the desire to prioritize retention of those who directly impact student outcomes. Dr. Breeden shared that Shaker counts “core teaching staff” for class size calculation, whereas any person with teaching licensure is counted nationally, with the result that Shaker’s ratio is above the national average. Dr. Hutchings stated that the Shaker Heights Teachers Association’s maximum is 25 students/class and that may be approached in the lower grades with the proposed reduction options. However, considering the Shaker student census has decreased about 10 percent  in the past five years, the ratio would fall naturally. He added that he does not want to adopt either of the two options under discussion but felt it necessary to plan from best to worst scenarios. Ms. Cremer asked if the board had to choose an option at this meeting. Dr. Hutchings replied the administration wanted to understand the goals and strategy of the board. Ms. Bell Hardaway supported Ms. Cremer’s goal of prioritizing student outcomes for any plan. Mr. Clawson asked the board to voice a preference of options in order to move forward and stated that option #3 presented a balanced approach dependent on the details of implementation. Ms. Cremer preferred option #1 or #2, Ms. Weingart and Ms. Bell Hardaway would support option #3 with emphasis on strategic attrition and requested details of this plan be developed.
  5. Mr. Clawson then opened the meeting for public comment and set some expectations and limits for comment; 13 audience members raised their hands to be included. Seven of the thirteen speakers–students, parents, and alumni–spoke in support of the theater department at the high school, which would be disproportionately impacted by the options for staff attrition/reduction. Three speakers were employees of the schools and voiced their concerns regarding the negative effect of the options on student outcomes. One parent spoke in support of the choir program. One student criticized the online health course. And one person introduced herself as a candidate for superintendent.
  6. An update on the Equity Task Force followed. (It was established in June 2017 and is part of the ongoing five-year Strategic Plan to remove barriers to help all students achieve at a higher level.) Two sessions were held this past month with 60 attendees, and a four-part series is planned with 44 participants. Ms. Cremer attended April 23, Ms. Bell Hardaway hosted May 6, and Ms. Weingart is one of the applicants.
  7. The updated Gifted Policy status was given by Dr. Breeden. The new policy is on second reading.
  8. The majority of the items for approval on the published agenda involved action on personnel matters, such as new appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments, and resignations, all of which were approved and are listed in detail on the published agenda. Six staff members were recommended for continuing contract status (tenure).
  9. The Capital Projects Updates were presented by Dr. Stephen Wilkins. Two bids for fire alarm updates and ADA improvements at the high school were rejected, with new bids requested, and one bid for Boulevard Elementary School facility improvements will also be rebid. The following projects were unanimously approved by the board: Mercer interior renovations of classroom space, Mercer exterior waterline replacement, Middle School exterior painting and soffit repairs, Boulevard and high school slate roof repairs and security upgrades, and district-wide Building Automation Systems (BAS) controls.
  10. The Board unanimously approved the resolution to formally appoint Dr. Stephen Wilkins as the interim superintendent for the District.
  11. Revision of board policies: first reading of an updated policy on Nondiscrimination, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex/Sexual Harassment, Emergency Management and Safety Plans, Drug Testing for District Personnel Required to Hold a Commercial Driver’s License, Evaluation of Certified Staff (administrators both Certified and Classified), Admission of Homeless Students, Homeless Students, Student Absences and Excuses, Hazing and Bullying (Harassment, Intimidation, and Dating Violence) and second required reading of an updated policy on Programs for Students Who Are Gifted. There were no third readings requiring approval.
  12. Mr. Christman presented monthly financial and budget reports and highlighted what is happening as far as the state budget and Shaker funding (details of each financial report are included as exhibits to the published agenda available online). The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date April 2018 was $5.1 million, or 6.8% more than the prior year amount, partially due to approximately $2 million of payments related to the Middle School roof and cafeteria ceiling projects. Expenditures were $2.3 million or 2.9% more than budget fiscal year-to-date, but $2,000 below budget as projected through fiscal year-end ($2.098 million unfavorable variance for cash expenditures offset by the projected favorable $2.1 million reduction in encumbrances). In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The report was unanimously approved.
  13. At the recommendation of Mr. Christman and the district’s Finance & Audit Committee (which reviewed and reached consensus on the forecast on April 26, 2018), the board must direct the treasurer to file a copy of its Five-Year Financial Forecast with the Ohio Department of Education each year. The recommendation was unanimously approved.
  14. Dr. Hutchings presented the Superintendent’s Report for the board.
  15. Mr. Clawson moved that due to the length of the meeting and the late hour, that the board members’ reports could wait until the next meeting, scheduled June 12, 2018. The motion was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 9:22 p.m.
Frank Goforth

Zoning Board of Appeals, May 7, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals
May 7, 2018

Present: Mayor David Weiss, chair; Councilman Rob Zimmerman; citizen members John Boyle and Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells
Others Present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the April 2018 meeting were approved.

C-4 BUILDING – VAN AKEN DISTRICT:

Bialosky Cleveland, representing RMS Investments, asked for a variance to the service area of the C-4 Market Hall building. A variance was previously granted for the service area to be located on Warrensville Center Road. The applicant would like to modify the service area layout for a larger trash compactor area, which requires a larger, angled entry and gate to accommodate the truck pickup of the compactor. An 8-foot wall that matches the brick wall and gate will hide the compactor, and landscaping will soften the view of the wall. There will be three parking spaces on Warrensville that will block the gate, so traffic will need to be managed on pickup days.

The Bialosky representatives explained that the original variance plan was to roll smaller compacters into the area for pick-up. After talking to refuse services, they’ve found that this plan would require three to nine pickups per week, which is inefficient. The variance will allow there to be one larger compacter that would need to be picked up every two weeks, causing less disruption to traffic and less noise.

Ms. Braverman asked if the parking spaces will be striped. Bialosky confirmed that they would be. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked how they would control use of the parking spaces on pickup days. Bialosky suggested they could off be closed. Ms. Braverman suggested they be blocked with traffic cones.

Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked if there would be a problem with having the refuse picked up only every two weeks. Bialosky said no.

Mr. Weiss asked why the gate was recessed from the street. Bialosky noted that it needed to be past the overhead power lines so the trash haulers could safely work.

Mr Dreyfus-Wells asked if the sidewalk would be differentiated from the driveway surface, giving a visual cue to pedestrians. Bialosky responded that the two surfaces would be differently textured. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked if they could be different colors, for greater differentiation. Bialosky responded that they could.

Ms. Braverman asked if the new service area design would degrade the view for people sitting on the nearby patio. Bialosky responded that the 8-foot wall improves the patio sightlines and will have landscaping and planters to further soften the view.

The discussion was opened to public comment. There was none.

Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells made a motion to approve the requested variance with the addition of using colors to differentiate the service area driveway and sidewalk. It was unanimously approved.

The next meeting will be June 4.
Lynn Lilly

 

Library Board of Trustees, May 21, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
May 21, 2018

Present: Michael Bertsch, Melissa Garrett, Doreen Katz, Troy Meinhard, Carmella Williams; Library Director Amy Switzer
Absent: Brian Gleisser, Tom Cicarella

Mr. Bertsch, presiding, called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m. and expressed thanks to all who supported approval of the levy measure on the May ballot, including library staff.

After approval of minutes from the previous meeting, community comments were invited. Shaker resident (and LWV member) Frank Goforth expressed concerns, arising from the comprehensive study made by the League to consider support of the levy, about a projected budget shortfall by 2025. Mr. Bertsch acknowledged the statement and said the board would craft a written response to those concerns, and noted the past and continuing commitment of the board to fiscally responsible action.

John Carlson, maintenance manager, gave a presentation on activities and responsibilities of the maintenance staff, which include both interior and exterior tasks, maintenance of carts, production of signage, and transportation of library materials, among other activities.

Ms. Katz spoke about her experience with the Shaker Heights school district’s strategic planning committee and suggested that, in light of the sometimes contentious nature of the levy campaign and the close election, a series of listening sessions may be valuable for the Library. Board members discussed the possibilities and reflected on some issues raised during the campaign. Ms. Katz was encouraged to seek collaborative opportunities with school and city entities to further the conversation, and to build a framework for such discussions.

The fiscal officer reported that income and expenditures were on track. An alternative tax budget (a yearly requirement) was approved.

Ms. Switzer noted several library activities, including the summer reading program, which is for adults as well as children. A number of revised policies were introduced, explained, and approved. The policies concerned fees for meeting rooms, record retention, community bulletin boards, gifts and donations, hours of service, recruitment and volunteers, and special services for cardholders.

After approval of acceptance of gifts and their allocation, the board went into executive session at 7:48 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

City Council, May 29, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council
May 29, 2018

Members Present: Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman
Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Information Technology Frank Miozzi, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Finance Director Robert Baker, Law Director William Gruber.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7:30 p.m.

Agenda—Council actions:

  1. Mr. Baker asked for approval of the the 2019 Tax Budget. This is a routine annual request that’s required so that the city can collect its share of property taxes from the county. His summary included a detailed explanation of “inside millage” (10 unvoted mills allowed across local government entities) and “charter millage” (millage voted on and included in the city’s charter). The city’s share of “inside millage” is 4.4 mills. The county can claim any surplus the city does not use from the 4.4 mills, so the city always plans to spend all it’s allowed so that it doesn’t have to give back any revenue. Mr. Malone added that the finance committee had approved the budget. Council approved the budget.
  2. Mayor Weiss presented the minutes of the April 9, 2018, council special meeting and the April 23, 2018, council regular meeting for approval. There were no questions or discussion and the minutes were approved. Mayor Weiss then asked if there were any residents present who wished to comment on the 2019 budget or minutes. There were none.
  3. Mr. Miozzi presented a request recommending the city enter into an agreement with Charter Communications for maintenance of the I-Net fiber network for a period of five years (2018-2023) at a total cost of $75,400. Funds are provided in the Information Technology operating budget. The fiber network provides remote city buildings with access to the city’s shared telecommunications and computer resources. The city, schools, and library originally contracted with Adelphia in 2000 to build out the fiber network within the city. Then in 2012 Ohio allowed suppliers to charge for connection services and the city, schools, and library contracted separately. This item was discussed at the May 4 combined committee meeting of the Building, Housing and Technology Committee and Safety & Public Works Committee. These committees expressed appreciation of the effort to collaborate with the library and schools. Both committees unanimously voted to support the recommendation to continue the service with Charter Communications. INET fiber maintenance was reviewed by the Finance Committee on May 21. There was a discussion about the history of the service and a request to look into the possibility of simply having Charter offset the fee from its franchise payments. Mr. Zimmerman commented that five years seemed a long commitment; he wished to understand why and if there was a cancellation clause. Mr. Miozzi said the fiber network has been used for the past 17 years, and the contract was put in place for the next five years because it was a lower cost than for one year. He expects it to last for 30 or more years, and said that the contract is less expensive than other options might be with shorter contracts. He would like to lock in even longer contracts. Ms. Senturia commented she appreciated Mr. Miozzi’s explanation and how he had worked with the schools and library to find least-cost options. The contract was approved as an emergency to put in place a contract before the July renewal deadline.
  4. Ms. Speese presented a request for approval to renew the triennial Tree Assessment at the current rate of $1.16 per front foot. The current triennial tree assessment for the maintenance of trees in the city’s rights-of-way expires at the end of 2018. This assessment funds the city’s forestry program, including planting, maintenance, and removal of trees. The assessment of $1.16 per front foot is levied against all properties in the city with the exception of property owned by the city and the school district. While this request did not go to the Safety & Public Works Committee due to timing, it was presented to the Tree Advisory Board on May 16. The Tree Advisory Board wholeheartedly supported this request. It is expected to generate $740,000 per year, will maintain current service levels, and will focus on eradicating the Asian Longhorn Beetle that is damaging trees. This request was also approved by the Finance & Administration Committee on May 21. Mr. Malone commented that this was sufficient for tree maintenance but did not account for maintaining the capital equipment used for the service. This should also be budgeted and separately brought before council, he said. The tree assessment was approved.
  5. Mr. Baker requested approval of several 2018 budget amendments for passage on first reading as emergencies. As the city implements its yearly budget, certain items may require changes or corrections in order to provide adequate appropriations for all expected expenditures. Finance is requesting to amend the 2018 budget for two debt service funds, the Economic Development Fund, the CCSE (Contract Charges and Statutory Expense) Fund, and one Special Revenue Fund. Mr. Baker summarized the changes required. All department expenses fall into two categories, either personal service or “other.” Directors can move funds within these categories without amendments, but not between categories. This was approved by the Finance and Administration Committee on May 21. The amendments were approved.
  6. Mr. Baker presented his request to authorize “Then and Now” certificates for payments of various transactions, which he summarized. This item was also approved by the Finance and Administration Committee on May 21. The payments were approved.

Mayor Weiss adjourned the meeting at 8:08 pm.
Frank Goforth and Ryan Brady

Finance Committee, May 21, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
May 21, 2018

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, and Anthony Moore.
Others present: Mayor David Weiss (by telephone conference), Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Information Technology Frank Miozzi, Director of Recreation Alexandria Nichols, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:30 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the April 16, 2018, meeting for approval. The minutes were approved.
  2. Mr. Miozzi recommended that the city enter into an agreement with Charter Communications Operating LLC for maintenance of the I-Net fiber network for a period of five years (2018-2023) at a total cost of $75,400. Funds are provided in the Information Technology operating budget. The fiber network is essential to the city’s operations, he said, providing remote city buildings with access to the city’s shared telecommunications and computer resources. Mr. Malone wished to know the history of the city’s fiber network. Mr. Miozzi said that the city, schools, and library originally contracted with Adelphia to build out the fiber network in 2000 (within the city, not connecting outside). Then in 2012 Ohio allowed suppliers to charge for connection services—and the city, schools, and library contracted separately. Mr. Kolb asked what the $275,000 franchise fee was for. Mr. Miozzi explained that suppliers pay a franchise fee to the city each year. Ms. Chaikin interjected the fee is regulated by Ohio. Mr. Miozzi continued that the supplier provides other services beyond the fiber cable maintenance. Ms. Lalley remarked that the collaboration between the city, schools, and library was commendable and inquired if a broader collaboration would be beneficial. Mr. Miozzi said the original 2000 study considered a broader collaboration and they would revisit that idea. Mr. Cicarella asked if the city could deduct the $75,000 contract fee from the $275,000 franchise payment, in case the supplier performance did not meet expectations. Ms. Chaikin said the city law director would need to approve. Mr. Malone wished to know the physical location of the fiber—was it buried? Mr. Miozzi said the physical fiber-optic cable is mounted above-ground on poles along main streets. Mr. Malone next asked him to explain the difference of “dark” versus “lit” fiber. Mr. Miozzi explained that dark fiber is the physical cable. A lit network includes the power and electronic switches necessary to provide services on the cable. The city has this equipment, allowing the choice of services and speed for various city functions; the contract is for maintaining this equipment. Mr. Miozzi said the city would prefer longer contracts, because fiber-optic cable will be the choice for many decades. Mr. Williams wished to know how wireless would impact the use of fiber cables. Mr. Miozzi answered that external fiber-optic cables will support faster wireless inside buildings and more wireless would come to the city as computers are upgraded. Mr. Malone wanted to know the expense to maintain dark fiber. Mr. Miozzi replied that squirrels are the worst pests because they chew through cables, but cables do degrade due to weather. The request was approved unanimously.
  3. Ms. Nichols would like the committee to recommend that City Council change ordinances that relate to the age ranges for rink fees and pool passes. The age ranges for the two facilities do not align, and Ms. Nichols said she does not know why. Mr. Cicarella wondered if there was any basis to expand the younger age bracket in order to get people involved earlier and for longer. Mr. Zimmerman asked if this change would have a physical impact on facilities. Ms. Nichols answered that it would not. The request was approved unanimously.
  4. Ms. Speese asked for approval to renew the triennial Tree Assessment at the current rate of $1.16 per front foot. The current assessment expires at the end of 2018. This assessment funds the city’s forestry program, including planting, maintenance, and removal of trees in the city’s rights-of-way. The assessment of $1.16 per front foot is levied against all properties in the city with the exception of property owned by the city and schools. Mr. Williams asked if this charge included resident’s requests for tree choices. Ms. Speese replied that residents can choose different species and sizes of trees for fees ranging from $200 to $1,000. She also shared that the city has a new forester this year, with a degree in forestry, and he was enforcing the contractors to properly care for trees and tree lawns when working nearby, particularly being careful with root systems. Mr. Malone asked if this charge was sufficient. Ms. Speese replied that it was sufficient for normal maintenance, but that 50-year blights and infestations, such as happened with ash borers, cannot be planned and that equipment was not part of this request. Ms. Moore commented that monocultures were commonly used in the past and the city had an abundance of vulnerable maples. Ms. Speese remarked the new forester was aggressively pursuing insurance claims after accidents damaged trees. Mr. Malone asked if there was an inventory of city trees. Ms. Speese said there is a complete inventory by street and we have a great variety now. Ms. Lalley asked if there were federal restrictions on what could be done and by whom. Ms. Speese replied the city was free to maintain trees in-house or under contract. Mr. Kolb asked if some disease infected our trees during the next three years, would the city be stuck with the cost. Mr. Baker replied the city could not increase the assessment. Mr. Malone remarked that this worst case would require the city to use general funds to treat the trees. The request was approved unanimously.
  5. Mr. Baker next summarized the 2019 Tax Budget. His summary included a detailed explanation of “inside millage” (10 mills allowed across government entities) and “charter millage” (millage voted on and included in the city’s charter). The city’s share of “inside millage” is 4.4 mills. The county can claim any surplus the city does not use from the 4.4 mills, so the city always plans to spend all it receives so that it doesn’t have to give back any revenue. Ms. Moore voiced appreciation for the detailed explanation. Mr. Baker added the state had recently changed the laws for rural and urban counties. The budget was approved unanimously.
  6. Mr. Baker requested approval of several 2018 budget amendments and asked the committee to recommend them to City Council for passage on first reading as emergencies. As the city implements its yearly budget, certain items may require changes or corrections in order to provide adequate appropriations for all expected expenditures. Finance is requesting to amend the 2018 budget for two debt service funds, the Economic Development Fund and one Special Revenue Fund. Director Baker summarized the changes required. All department expenses fall into two categories, either personal service or “other,” and directors can move funds within these categories without amendments—but can’t move funds between categories. Mr. Moore asked if funds can move from one personal line to another. Mr. Baker confirmed they can, as long as the total personal budget stays the same. Mr. Moore next asked if the debt service notes had already been sold. Mr. Baker confirmed they had been sold last week. Mr. Moore then asked if this change would have any effect on the closing sale of notes. Mr. Baker advised that if the changes were not made, then the notes sold would technically be in default and have to be reissued at higher interest rates. Mr. Williams asked if the notes were sold to local banks. Mr. Baker confirmed. The amendments were approved unanimously.
  7. Mr. Baker requested authorization of “Then and Now” payments for various transactions. They were approved.
  8. Mr. Baker presented the 2018 First Quarter Budget Update through March 31. Both the real estate and income tax receipts were higher than in 2017, likely due to federal tax law changes. He said he would keep everyone informed as the year progresses. However, for all other revenue lines, the city is collecting less than in 2017. Ms. Lalley wished to know if Mr. Baker had anticipated this. Mr. Baker said he had not, but the Van Aken delays are contributing. Mr. Malone wished to know what might happen if the municipal court transferred to the county. Mr. Baker did not know for sure; however, the municipal court is prohibited by the state from making more money than it costs. The court cannot raise fees above their costs, so there is no upside for the city, but the court has supported itself for many years and is convenient. Mr. Baker continued: all departments’ expenses are within bounds. Ms. Lalley asked if the city were satisfied with the service it receives from RITA. Mr. Baker said he has no control over what we learn from RITA. The city does have input to RITA in regards to subpoenas issued by RITA against delinquent taxpayers. The city wants to pursue every one. Additionally, individual taxpayers who file estimated taxes, mainly those self-employed, introduce big spikes in revenue. RITA does provide the city a list of “top 10” taxpayers, which is always a surprise as their income is episodic.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:58 a.m.
Frank Goforth

City Council Work Session, April 9, 2018

May 1st, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council Work Session
April 9, 2018

Present: Interim Mayor Anne Williams; Council members  Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Earl Williams, and Rob Zimmerman; CAO Jeri Chaikin; and Law Director William Gruber

Ms. Williams called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.

First item on the agenda was a public hearing for amendments to the zoning ordinances for the creation of a small lot infill development overlay district, revised sign design standards, and text revision regarding Landmark Commission process.

The City Planning Commission makes recommendations to Council regarding amendments to the zoning ordinance.  Three readings and a public hearing at City Council are required.  This was the second reading and the required public hearing.

Planning Department Director Joyce Braverman introduced the zoning text amendments and asked city staff member Kamla Lewis and Kris Hopkins of CT Consultants to present detailed information.

First, a Small Lot Infill Development (SLID) overlay district is proposed. The district will allow for creative infill housing on small vacant lots in the north and south Moreland neighborhoods. The new district, designed to ensure infill housing that is compatible with the existing neighborhood, is exclusively for the existing two-family zoning district in the north and south Moreland neighborhoods.

Ms. Lewis noted that there are 100 city-owned lots available for development.

Second, sign design standards are proposed to be added to the CM Commercial Mixed Use zoning district design standards and principles section. These changes provide sign standards to raise the design to the same level as the design standards already integral to this zoning district.  Currently there are high standards for building design but no guidance for signs and no coordination with the overall district, other development, or streetscape.

Third, the revision to the Landmark Commission process will allow more flexibility in the application process. The proposed change to the submission process will allow the process to be set by administrative rule, which is more in line with other boards and commissions.

Ma. Williams opened the public hearing and asked for questions or comments from the audience.  There were none.

Following a short recess, Ms. Williams called the meeting back into session, paid tribute to former Mayor Earl Leiken, now chief of staff for Cuyahoga County’s chief executive, and described the process City Council went through to find a replacement for Mr. Leiken. Council’s responsibility is to name a mayor who would serve for the rest of 2018 and must run in the November 2018 election.  The  community would then vote to determine who would serve until December 2019 to complete Mr. Leiken’s full term. With special thanks to Ms. Chaikin, Mr. Gruber, and the city’s communications department, Ms. Williams described the process Council developed to select a replacement, including announcing the vacancy and inviting interested applicants to apply. Seven timely applications were received; five were interviewed in hour-long sessions. A majority vote of Council was needed to select a new mayor. Ms. Williams announced Council’s choice:former City Council member David E. Weiss.

Ms. Williams then took official action and moved to appoint Ms. Weiss as mayor. The motion was seconded, and all voted in favor except Ms. Senturia, who abstained. Mr. Weiss was introduced as the new mayor, sworn in by Judge K.J. Montgomery, and received a standing ovation.

In brief remarks, Mr. Weiss expressed his thanks to Council and to those joining him tonight and acknowledged the honor and privilege he feels in being selected to serve.  He and his family have lived in Shaker for 30 years, during which the community has benefited from superb mayors.  He moves into the office with big shoes to fill and looks forward to the challenges and opportunities. He expressed admiration for the professionalism and dedication of the city staff and closed by noting that the future for Shaker is bright, with exciting developments in the Van Aken area, in the Moreland area, and in all of the neighborhoods. What makes Shaker so special are the people who choose to live here, he said, and he looks forward to working with everyone to move the community ahead.

Ms. Williams adjourned the meeting and invited those present to join a reception honoring the new mayor.
Jan Devereaux

Finance Committee, April 2018

April 29th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
April 16, 2018

Members Present: Committee members Sean Malone (chair), Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, and Anthony Moore
Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Human Resources Manager Sandra Middleton, and Council Member Julianna Senturia

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:31 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. The minutes of the March 19, 2018, meeting were approved.
  2. Ms. Chaikin presented a request from Ms. Middleton asking that the Finance Committee recommend City Council authorize an appropriation of employee Flexible Spending Account forfeiture money in the amount of $5,027 in the Human Resources Department operating budget for the purpose of employee Lunch and Learn and Employee Recognition programs. The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a benefit provided by the city that lets employees set aside a certain amount of their paycheck into an account before paying income taxes. The employee has the entire benefit year plus an additional 2½ months to use the funds toward qualified expenses. After that time, any remaining FSA contributions are forfeited. The request was approved.
  3. Ms. Speese presented her request to accept a proposal and authorize a contract for construction inspection services to GPD Group for the 2018 Street Resurfacing project at a cost of $34,200. The 2018 Street Resurfacing program is funded in the amount of $2 million and involves the resurfacing and inspection of 12 streets with the option for additional streets as funding permits. On March 23, the city three proposals for construction inspection services related to the 2018 Street Resurfacing project. The Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent to six firms and posted on the city’s website.

Ms. Lalley inquired about the long-term capital needs for street repairs. There had not been a separate and complete discussion of the city’s infrastructure plan and how that plan was to be financed. Ms. Chaikin replied that the 10-year capital fund set aside $2 million per year for street maintenance, $2 million per year for sewer, and $3 million per year for rolling stock and buildings. Mr. Baker interjected that beginning in 2010, when interest rates became exceptionally low, the city began using short-term notes to fund maintenance on streets. The city has had no debt service for these repairs since 2006. That will change in the future as interest rates rise. Bonds cannot be used for street maintenance as streets do not have a sufficiently long life. Mr. Malone added that a special Finance Committee meeting would be scheduled to review the infrastructure plan and how it is funded. The request was then approved.

  1. Ms.  Speese presented her request to authorize an appropriation of money in the Street Maintenance Fund to cover the county share of maintenance for several projects. In May 2013 City Council passed legislation authorizing the city to participate in the Countywide Preventative Maintenance Program through the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works (CCPDW). As a result, Shaker is eligible for the two additional options now being offered by CCDPW under this program. The first is a road maintenance grant; the County will reimburse the city for materials for repairs of catch basins, crack sealing, manhole replacements and other miscellaneous maintenance items. The materials to rebuild catch basins on Warrensville Center, Coventry, and Lee roads as well as on Fairmount Boulevard qualify for this grant ($55,707). The second is the pavement maintenance grant, which is a 50/50 split between the county and city for an approved project in its entirety. The Fairhill Road resurfacing project ($249,040) qualifies for this grant.

Mr. Malone asked if this was the first year these grants were available to the city. Ms. Speese replied that this was the first year for the 50/50 grant. Mr. Kolb asked if the city’s portion of these projects was part of the $2 million-per-year street maintenance budget discussed in item 3. Ms. Speese confirmed they were, and that $500,000 had been set aside for Fairhill Road, so that $250,000 was now available for other street repair projects. Mr. Zimmerman wished to know the condition of Fairhill Road and whether was it critical to repair it this year. Ms. Speese confirmed Fairhill Road needed repair this year and was budgeted. Mr. Kolb was surprised Fairhill Road was a county road. Ms. Speese confirmed that it is. Mr. Malone asked to confirm we could repair additional streets with the budgeted funds and Ms. Speese confirmed so. Mr. Cicarella inquired if Fairhill Road would have been repaired by the county anyway. Director Speese replied that yes, the county would normally share costs 80/20, but the county was out of funds this year and Fairhill Road was probably seven-eight years later in their priority. Mr. Kolb wanted clarification that Fairhill Road would have been done by the city this year. Ms. Speese replied that yes, the Fairhill Road condition would not tolerate a wait of eight years. A motion was made and approved.

  1. Ms. Speese presented her request to accept a proposal and authorize a contract with Quality Control Inspection (QCI) for construction observation services for work within right-of-way. Historically, Public Works has spent an excessive amount of time responding to residents, following up with the utilities contractor on restoration, and ensuring maintenance of traffic plans are adhered to. Payment for construction observation would be at the expense of the utility company working in a right of way.

Mr. Malone wished to confirm the utility would pay the fee. Ms. Speese confirmed this. Mr. Cicarella asked if this was normal procedure. Ms. Speese remarked that too often utility contractor’s “clean-up” left many residents’ property poorly restored and many of them complained to the city. Mr. Malone asked what specifically had gone wrong on the Lee Road repaving project. Ms. Speese said that the contractor had closed Lee Road without informing the city so that traffic could be rerouted, had worked during quiet hours, and ruined lawns throughout the area. These inspectors, paid by the utility, would coordinate with city services, be the city’s “eyes and ears,” and protect city and residents’ assets. Mr. Malone continued to ask if Lee Road would be repaved this year to repair the poor paving done last year. Ms. Speese replied that further repair was necessary at Green Lake before repaving. Ms. Lalley wished to confirm how and who pays the inspector. Ms. Speese explained that the utility places a deposit with the city and the inspectors draw from this account. A motion was made and approved.

  1. Mr. Baker presented his request to authorize an appropriation of $850,000 from the Economic Development and Housing Reserve Fund for the ABA Insurance Services and McGlinchey Stafford “Vision Fund” loans. City Council approved Vision Fund loans for ABA Insurance ($500,000) and McGlinchey Stafford ($350,000) on July 25, 2016, and April 6, 2017, respectively. Funds were not appropriated for either loan, as they would not be expended until 2018 and beyond. These loans are for the Van Aken District and have two parts: upfront to prepare office spaces and yearly thereafter through the 10-year life of loan. The office build outs for both firms in the Van Aken District have commenced and upfront funds are expected to be requested for reimbursement between May and August 2018 ($250,000 for ABA and $200,000 for McGlinchey Stafford). This will leave $5 million in the Economic Development Fund.

Mr. Malone asked if these loans were approved in prior years. Mr. Baker confirmed they were approved. Mr. Moore asked if any prior loans had been written off. Director Baker answered that one prior Economic Development loan had been written off when the company’s office had moved to California. Mr. Moore asked the value of the lost loan. Mr. Baker replied that the loan was for $19,000 and $8,000 was written off. Mr. Moore inquired if a qualifier should be added to loan terms. Mr. Baker answered that a guarantee would likely cause these companies to choose other cities for their location; these loans are structured to attract new business and still have a low risk. Mr. Moore asked if that was the reason the loan is structured to pay back in two years. Mr. Baker confirmed that reason and added that these loans are usually paid back 2-for-1 over the loan lifetime. Ms. Lalley wanted to understand what happened to any profit from these loans. Mr. Baker explained any excess went back into the Economic Development Fund. Mr. Cicarella stated he has not seen this result with industrial tax abatement and asked if there was data to support this past loan experience. Mr. Baker said he will separately report the details to the committee. Mr. Malone stated he would also wish to see the data, as these two loans were larger than past loans. Mayor Weiss asked if the delayed loan payments were new. Mr. Baker replied, yes, prior smaller loans were paid out upfront. Mr. Kolb also expressed his concern that he would like to see more detailed and regular tracking for these larger loans. Mr. Zimmerman asked to see data for all these incentives. Ms. Lalley agreed with the desire for better tracking but applauded the creative use of these funds. A motion was made and approved.

  1. Mr. Baker presented his request to authorize the issuance and sale of $1.8 million of notes, in anticipation of the issuance of bonds, for the purpose of paying costs of improving streets as designated in the plans approved or to be approved by Council. The 2018 Streets Notes are consistent with past the city practice of financing street improvements. The notes are rolled over each year, and at maturity 10 percent of the original principal amount will be retired, so the entire issue will be retired in 10 years. The interest rate that will apply each year will be a one-year interest rate determined at the time of the rollover. Since streets are not a long-lived asset, notes are more appropriate financing than longer-term bonds. The entire note issue can be repaid on any maturity date, as was done for the 2010 road notes repaid in 2016.

Mr. Cicarella asked about any added fees for notes. Mr. Baker said there are fees paid by the city to the financial advisor while other fees are paid by the purchaser of the note. The request was approved.

  1. Mr. Baker presented his request to authorize “Then and Now” payment for the transactions on Exhibit A, a payment to Rea & Associates. Rea & Associates has a “letter of arrangement” to supply auditor services and last year the letter was mailed to Mr. Baker during his vacation, so he missed the payment.

Mr. Williams asked if this was a contract. Mr. Baker replied that Rea & Associates do not contract separately for each service but bills for services as needed by the city according to this letter. The request was approved.

  1. Ms. Chaikin introduced a new item requested at the April 9, 2018, City Council work session. There are two capital projects at City Hall to be addressed. The first project is an addition to the existing elevator upgrade in process. The second is a new project to repair and upgrade the basement, garage area and second floor of the area in city hall vacated by the Fire Station move. Ms. Braverman continued: The elevator addition is $70,000 to extend the elevator into the second floor space vacated by the Fire Department so that it may be repurposed in the future for city administration and/or public use. The second project would first require a $75k study of three options for the available basement, garage and second floor space considering the entire City Hall needs. The actual implementation cost for any chosen upgrade would be a separate future project.

Mr. Moore asked if the elevator to the second floor is needed if the space is not used by the public. Director Braverrman replied it would be necessary for access for employees as well as the public. Mr. Weiss stated that operating money must be spent to study options and capital for actual upgrades. Mr. Moore added that ADA compliance would be necessary for all uses. Ms. Chaikin warned the actual implementation cost may be triple the study costs. Mr. Malone wanted to know what other costs are expected. Ms. Chaikin answered the $70,000 is added only for the elevator. Mr. Williams asked what extent might this trigger for other ADA changes. Ms. Braverman replied that six or seven years ago there was an ADA complaint and City Hall was made compliant, but not the Fire Hall section of the building. Mr. Kolb remarked that the city could thus be facing significant costs for other changes. Ms. Speese said that the elevator addition would require four to six weeks to implement. Ms. Lalley said that she understood the combined Building & Housing office would move into the City Hall basement, according to the original restoration project. Ms. Braverman replied that Building & Housing would move to upgraded second floor space and an employee lunch room would be in the basement. Mr. Kolb wanted to know if there was room at “The Dealership” for Building & Housing. Ms. Chaikin replied there was no space left at The Dealership. Mr. Zimmerman remarked the proposal is for improvements and not rebuilding. Mr. Moore remarked it was sensible to request a full design for building usage rather than piecemeal. Mr. Malone summarized that the committee did not need to vote as this was not a formal agenda item but he would draft a memo to council members that the Finance Committee discussed the new item and there was support to recommend this to the council, but there was no formal Finance Committee vote.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:47 a.m.
Frank Goforth

Library Board of Trustees, April 2018

April 29th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
April 16, 208
The meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m. All board members were present except Mr. Gleisser. Also present: Library Director Amy Switzer and a number of staff members.
Minutes of previous meetings were approved, with minor corrections. Bylawss changes were approved, on recommendation of the board bylaws committee.
The fiscal officer’s report included nothing unexpected. Income is slightly ahead of usual, apparently due to taxpayers’ paying property taxes earlier to take advantage of changes in the tax code. Cash balances were explained in more detail. A five-year depository agreement was approved (per state law), and it was noted that it was not an exclusive arrangement, and other banks could be used also if there were reason to do so. Also approved was participation in a cooperative purchasing program to take advantage of discounts negotiated by the state. Cost of participation in the program is $100, with possible savings of a few thousand dollars.
Ms. Switzer reported attending the annual legislative day in Columbus for Ohio librarians, and speaking with a number of legislators. Also noted was a presentation on community outreach by Shaker library staff at a national conference, which was well-attended and well-received.
The board approved a new Clevnet contract, to go into effect at the beginning of 2019. The agreement has been under development since 2015. Clevnet began as a service of the Cleveland Public Library in 1982, and Shaker Heights Library was one of the first members. It has since grown to include 44 libraries; the new contract reflects the need to distribute decision-making functions more equitably and also to adjust the cost structure to take into account developments in use of new media and technology. It is anticipated that the cost of participation for Shaker Heights Library will decrease slightly under the new framework.
Quarterly use statistics show a continuation of the shift to use of electronic media. The Library offered more programs (up 4 percent) and attendance increased (up 9 perent). The passport application program is now fully operational.
The board accepted and allocated several memorial gifts before the meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

Board of Education, April 2018

April 29th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
April 10, 2018

Present: William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Jeffrey Isaacs, Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Treasurer Bryan Christman

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6 p.m. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

The meeting began with an update by Woodbury Principal Danny Young. The regular meeting followed:

  1. The minutes from the March 13 regular board meeting were approved.
  2. Recognition/Honors of Staff/Students: Five members of the first high school PenOhio team qualified to compete at the State Tournament May 19 at the College of Wooster. Mercer kindergarten student Liam Collins was the subject of a Fox 8 piece that honored Autism Awareness Month. High school students Noa Marcus and Sophia Geisler earned national medals (less than 1 percent of 350,000 submissions win) in the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Fifth grade teacher Chante Thomas-Taylor published her first illustrated children’s book. Senior Ose Arheghan was named one of 25 Young Futurists 2018 by The Root magazine. Ose will attend OSU on a full scholarship (and was our first Shaker League Chapter Legacy Intern), is a champion of the LGBTQ community, and was honored in the Social Justice and Activism category. The high school celebrated the 30th anniversary of its exchange program with Japan. The district honored with a proclamation the legacy of Dr. Robert “Doc” Schneider, retired music department chair and director of choirs, who recently died.
  3. Isaacs offered the opportunity for public conversation with the board: one person urged the board to be more transparent with respect to updating the district’s stance on gifted learning.
  4. An update on the Equity Task Force followed, given by several members of the task force, including student member Katrina Cassell. (It was established in June 2017 and is part of the ongoing five-year Strategic Plan on removing barriers to help all students achieve at a higher level.) There will be opportunities announced shortly on community participation in equity workshops and training.
  5. Minority Students Achievement Network is a national coalition of multiracial school districts that come together to understand and eliminate opportunity/achievement gaps that persist in schools—an update was given by six high school students who attended a recent conference at Kent State. These students’ energy and passion about this conference was evident and they want to come up with a proactive action plan with a goal of increasing the GPA of minority ninth graders from 2.0 to 3.0.
  6. An update on the Gifted Policy status was given by Dr. Terri Breeden and Dr. Marla Robinson along with community team member Alex Liston Dykema. This updated policy covers annual identification of students who are gifted using an array of tools, the district’s plan for a continuum of services, written education plans, gifted education personnel, and annual report and accountability to the Ohio Department of Education
  7. Highlights of the facilities update by Dr. Stephen Wilkins, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations followed. Architects from Legat and Van Akins Aukins reviewed projects and their status by school building. A breakdown of the various projects with estimated budgets was shared along with the logic of combining bid packages to maximize savings.
  8. The majority of the items for approval on the published agenda involved action on personnel matters, such as new appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments and resignations, all of which were approved and are listed in detail on the published agenda. Five staff members were recommended for continuing contract status (tenure).
  9. The board approved a resolution accepting the lowest responsible and responsive bid from Lakeland Management Systems for the high school and Onaway foundation and wall repairs and one for ABC Piping Co. for the boiler installation at the high school (and a change order credit that reflects the removal of chemical treatment components from these new boilers). The board also accepted a resolution approving the lowest responsible and responsive bid from Chagrin Valley Paving related to the parking lot improvements at the high school and Onaway.
  10. Revision of board policies: first reading of updated policy “Programs for Students Who Are Gifted” (no action). Third required reading of three: the following policies have been updated (covering Title IX and nondiscrimination on the basis of sex/sexual harassment, broadcasting and taping of board meetings, student transportation services, board policy development and adoption, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, interscholastic athletics, graduation requirements, English learners, and truancy). The board voted to adopt these policies.
  11. Treasurer Bryan Christman presented monthly financial and budget reports and highlighted what is happening as far as the state budget and Shaker funding (details of each financial report are included as exhibits to the published agenda available online). Tax advances for January-March are $4.9 million ahead of last year at this time, perhaps due to the changes in the tax laws and people trying to pay ahead. Included in other local revenue YTD is the receipt of $1.7 million of capital expenses (primarily the middle school flat roof and cafeteria ceiling projects) paid for by the General Fund prior to the issuance of bonds, now reimbursed from the bond issuance proceeds received in late December ($9.9 million bond anticipation notes). On March 28, we priced $20.1 million of bonds and on April 4, $8.395 million of bonds, proceeds of which will be used to refund the bond anticipation notes issued in December. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time.
  12. Superintendent’s report: Students of the Shaker Schools traveled during spring break. The largest group was 67 students from the high school choir and orchestra who performed in Greece, as well as two immersion groups, one to Costa Rica and one to Morocco. Dr. Hutchings reviewed with the board a plan for declining enrollment, with four options as far as attrition of staff and refilling (or not) open positions. Mr. Christman reviewed the financial considerations and savings with each of the four attrition options. The board asked questions of both and will study this topic and do more in-depth research in coming up with a direction to take.

The meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.
Holly Wang

City Planning & Board of Zoning Appeals, April 2018

April 29th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals & City Planning Commission
April 10, 2018

Members present: Citizen members John Boyle; Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells; Rob Zimmerman, City Council; David Weiss, mayor and chair
Others Present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the March 6, 2018, meeting were approved with minor typo corrections.

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

 Louck Residence, 2979 Broxton Road

The homeowner requests a variance for fences at this Broxton and South Woodland corner lot. An ornamental fence is proposed to extend to 40 feet off the South Woodland Road sidewalk and screened with new bushes. Code requires corner side-yard fences not extend in front of the setback of the home on the adjacent lot, which in this case is 75 feet. A 6-foot-tall wood board-on-board fence is also proposed on the rear property line, screened by existing landscaping, though code allows only a 3-foot-tall fence. Staff recommends approval of the ornamental fence, and approval of the board-on-board fence as long as it doesn’t extend beyond the South Woodland Road side of the neighbor’s house. After discussion, the topic was opened to public comment; there were none.

Mr. Boyle moved to approve the ornamental fence as proposed and approve the board-on-board fence with these modifications: 4 feet tall from the 75-foot setback to the 65-foot mark, then 6 feet tall to the property line. Approval was unanimous.

McGlinchey Stafford

McGlinchey Stafford (a law firm) requested a variance for an increased letter size on a primary sign for their business to be located on the Warrensville Center Road façade of the C-1 building in the Van Aken District. Staff recommends approval because a code-standard sign would be extremely difficult to read on the third floor of the building.

Mr. Zimmerman expressed concern that only a month after the signage standards were approved, the board is being asked for a variance. Mr. Feinstein explained that there are only two other spaces in Van Aken where this question would arise, so no precedent is being set. After discussion, the topic was opened to public comment; there were none. Mr. Zimmerman moved to approve the variance. Approval was unanimous.

 CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

Wendy’s Restaurant – 3516 Warrensville Center Road

Linear Architects, representing MUY! Hamburgers, requested a Conditional Use Permit, site plan review, variances, and re-subdivision of land for construction of a new Wendy’s at the corner of Warrensville and Chagrin. A Conditional Use Permit is required for the drive-through, which includes two stacking lanes and access to Warrensville. Site plan review is required to demolish the existing building and construct a new one. Variances were requested to the rear buffer, shade trees, front-yard maximum building setback, and the number-of-signs requirements. Commercial Mixed Use district design standard variances were requested and include variances to parking lot frontage, percentage of clear first floor windows, arrangement of public space, and street context and franchise architecture. Re-subdivision of land is required to combine several parcels into one, including combining the vacated right-of-way at the corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center Road. A working group developed the proposal and staff recommends approval.

A representative from Linear Architects walked through the highlights of the plan, then Jim Moll, a representative of MUY! Hamburgers (the Wendy’s franchisee) answered questions. Mr. Boyle and Mr. Weiss had questions about the colors of the Wendy’s red “blade” sign that would dominate the front of the building. Mr. Moll said that they’re open to changing it to an architectural feature, such as stone, rather than the red brand color. He also noted that all newer Wendy’s use the blade at that standard height, and that this location would not have a monument sign.

Ms. Braverman noted that the board can’t approve the signage package because only the number of signs had been submitted, not the actual designs, which need revision. She also noted that re-subdivision of the land, approved at the March meeting, is still awaiting signature by the owner before it goes to County Council for their approval.

Mr. Boyle said that the site plan looked good, assuming the landowner signed the re-subdivision agreement.

The meeting was opened for public comment. Dan Carducci spoke, representing Shaker FV Holdings, which owns the property south of the Wendy’s location and is also the landlord to Wendy’s, the lessee of the underlying property on which the current Wendy’s stands and former operator of the Wendy’s. Shaker FV sold the business to the Wendy’s Company, which franchised it to MUY! Hamburgers. He explained that Shaker FV had only recently received the new plans, which require their approval and MUY! had proceeded without consultation, collaboration or approval. Shaker FV’s concerns:

  1. The site plan shows a grassy triangle for “proposed future,” which is separate Shaker FV land. When that and the adjacent Shaker FV property are developed, they would expect that requests for cross-access and utility sharing would be recognized. Mr. Carducci requested the information be added to the site plan.
  2. Carducci suggested that a grassy area on the current Wendy’s site might be used for parking in the future, if their adjacent property were developed, and requested it be noted on the site plan.
  3. Access to the alley to Lomond Road, behind the location, is being removed. Mr. Carducci asked if a study was done. He also noted that Shaker FV, the underlying landowner, was not consulted and may have a problem with the decision.

Mr. Weiss asked the staff about Shaker FV’s concerns. They responded that it’s inappropriate to add possible future use notations to a site plan. Any future development would need to be reviewed when presented. Mr. Carducci then stated that the existing lease with Wendy’s on the land mentions cross-parking and access, though the full lease is not on file with the city; only a memorandum of understanding is legally filed.

Mr. Weiss asked staff about shared utilities. Ms. Braverman responded that it would be a private agreement between the companies and doesn’t involve the city. Only sharing the sewer lines would involve the city, and that would be to assess if it’s suitable to handle both businesses.

Mr. Weiss asked about closing the alleyway. Ms. Braverman responded that it’s only one-way access at the Wendy’s property line, but is often used as a two-way street, making it hazardous. Furthermore, the redesign of the Warrensville-Chagrin intersection makes traffic at the light less congested, making the alley cut-through unnecessary. The alleyway is city right-of-way beyond the Wendy’s property line.

Mr. Drefuss-Wells asked staff about earlier plans Shaker FV had presented for the property. Ms. Braverman replied that the owner had presented plans and the city was satisfied, but the owners then decided they didn’t want to add additional building to the property. Mr. Carducci noted that if they had tenants for the property, they would develop it. They’ve had interest from other quick-service restaurants and coffee companies, but those companies are concerned about cross-access and visibility. Shaker FV is in favor of development, and that’s why they’re bringing their concerns to the city.

Mr. Moll shared that, according to Wendy’s corporate legal department, their lease does not require them to give cross-access to another business, though they often do. He also noted that MUY! management thinks the alleyway is a hazard and wants it closed. He added that if and when Shaker FV has a development plan for the vacant parcel, they are open to discussing possibilities but are not willing to put an agreement in place in advance.

Mr. Weiss recommended that there be a continuance until there is a final agreement between Wendy’s, Shaker FV and MUY! Mr. Gruber noted that this should include Shaker FV’s agreement to the re-parcel of the land and the right-of-way vacated by the city.

 O’Brien Residence – 18205 Shelburne Road

Residents building a new single-family house request a variance for a two-car parking pad in addition to a 3-car attached garage. Code allows only a one-car pad with screening. Also, the applicant is removing 26 trees and planting only 17 new trees. Code requires replacing all 26 trees. Staff recommends approval on both variances. The driveway includes a curve and landscaping that will shield the parking pad. Another 34 trees are being retained in the rear yard, and there is no room to replant all the removed trees. In addition, staff recommends requiring tree protection fencing be installed prior to the start of construction.

After presentation of the resident plan and discussion, the floor was opened for public comment.  There was none. Mr. Zimmerman moved to approve the variance per staff recommendation. Approval was unanimous.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority – Farnsleigh Blue Line Rapid Transit Station

Brian Temming from the RTA presented plans for re-construction of the Farnsleigh Road RTA station, including adding a handicap-accessible ramp and modifying the platform design, shelters, signage and landscaping to meet ADA accessibility standards, as well as a shelter over the handicap accessibility ramp that matches the other proposed shelter. The adjacent parking area would be resurfaced in concrete. Staff recommends approval of the plan with the requirement that the southern ground sign be improved with landscape similar to the existing landscape around the north sign location.

Mr. Temming responded to several questions about the nature of the landscaping, confirmed that there would be no change to the parking spaces in the resurfaced lot, that the only lighting would be inside the shelter, and that signage would be only directional, not promotional. The discussion was opened for public comment. There was none. Mr. Boyle moved for approval of the plan with the addition of improved landscaping. Approval was unanimous. The proposal will go to Council for approval.

City of Shaker Heights – Van Aken District Public Art Action Strategy

The Van Aken District Public Art Action Strategy was presented for review. Based on an extensive public process, the input was organized into a set of guiding principles to guide public art installations throughout the district. The plan was approved and will go to Council for adoption.

The next meeting will be May 7 in the STJ Community Building.
Lynn Lilly