Observer Reports

City Planning Commission/ Board of Zoning Appeals, Jan. 7, 2020

January 22nd, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, council member; Joseph J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning, citizen members

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William M. Gruber, law director.

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01072020-376

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. He announced that during its meeting the previous Monday evening (Jan. 6), City Council appointed newly re-elected Sean Malone as the council representative to the Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission effective Feb. 1. The mayor thanked Mr. Zimmerman for his eight years of service, and Mr. Zimmerman in turn thanked his colleagues for their work on the board.

The minutes of the Dec. 3, 2019, meeting were approved unanimously, with minor corrections.

Tapas Lounge/Bar – 16704 Chagrin Blvd. (across the street from Heinen’s)

Continuation of a Public Hearing on the request of Kenneth Gibson, Tapas Lounge/Bar, for a Conditional Use Permit for a lounge/bar and for a variance to the parking requirements since there is no onsite parking. In this former retail space, the applicant proposes to establish a lounge/bar, a similar use to the brewpub/wine bar conditional use category in the Commercial Mixed Use zoning district. This case was continued at the July 2019 meeting so the applicant could apply for the Conditional Use Permit.

Mr. Gibson presented the plans for the Tapas Lounge/Bar. He contends that the primary use is as a restaurant, that no permit is needed, that he received permits last year to begin renovation and began construction in January. Mr. Feinstein stated that a permit was erroneously issued by the Building Department for interior renovation without completing the zoning review and, further, that what has been built does not conform to the plans approved by the Building Department. Mr. Gibson believes that he has done what is required of him.

Staff suggested denying the Conditional Use Permit for the following reasons: the applicant has not submitted information about how the intended use is similar to a brewpub/wine bar, that none of the Conditional Use Permit standards have been addressed, and that there is no information on file relative to operational use, maximum number of patrons, or security. Further, the property is adjacent to single and two-family residences.

During the public hearing, a Kenyon Road resident who lives behind the proposed lounge/bar, spoke about the noise, gunshots, and nuisance problems from A Touch of Italy restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard to the east. She has been calling the police regularly for disturbances at that restaurant since the late 1990s. She likes living in Shaker but may be forced to relocate if similar problems occur at the Tapas Lounge/Bar. Ellory Smith, of Warrensville Heights, spoke in favor of the lounge/bar. Mr. Smith, a minority partner of Mr. Gibson in this enterprise, was concerned that the city allowed construction to begin and that a considerable amount of money had already been spent on renovations. He also stated that the Tapas Lounge/Bar should not be blamed for problems at other establishments. Mr. Gruber responded that Cleveland Heights had revoked Mr. Gibson’s permit to operate in that city because he did not comply with requirements issued for his establishments there. Mr. Gibson objected to that statement, saying it was not true, and Mr. Gruber replied that he was quoting from Cleveland Heights records. The mayor closed the public hearing and asked for a motion. Mr. Gibson and Mr. Smith left the room before the vote was taken.

The board voted unanimously to deny the Conditional Use Permit and that the parking variance was moot since the permit was denied.

Shaker Redo LLC – 3700-3704 Lee Road

Public Hearing on the request of Nick Fedor, Shaker Heights Development Corp., representing Shaker Redo LLC, for a Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District and variance to the sign regulations in order to install a sign projecting above a building cornice line. The applicant proposes to mount a blade sign, wall signs, and window signs to provide signage for the commercial buildings at the corner of Lee and Nicholas Roads. A Local Sign District is required in order to use blade or projecting signs. There is one blade sign proposed on the Lee Road side in order to identify businesses, and it is proposed to extend above the flat roof. Code does not allow a sign to extend above the cornice line of a building, but this site is two buildings. Council confirmation of a Conditional Use Permit is required.

Staff supported the request with the following conditions: no portable signs are allowed; projecting signs are limited to 12 square feet with a 3-foot projection; signage requirements will be included in tenant leases; all signage requires Architectural Board of Review design approval.

Elicia Gibbon, Gibbon Architecture, presented the signage plans for the buildings, which included gooseneck lighting and aluminum cutout letters, a wall sign on the Nicholas Road side, and a projecting sign on the rainscreen element. The signage will join the two buildings visually. The Architectural Board supports the blade sign design,

There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes – 2600 South Park Blvd.

Public Hearing on the request of Jodi McCue, Environmental Design Group, on behalf of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, for improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail. The Nature Center is reconstructing the trail with essentially the same layout, which includes sections of wood boardwalk, bridges, benches, platforms, and a treehouse. A new trail entry feature is proposed in the Nature Center parking lot as well as new entries at both South Park and West Park boulevards. The two West Park entries will be connected by a 3-foot-wide mulch path that extends to the Shaker Boulevard sidewalk. Council approval of improvements to public land is required.

Staff supported the request based on the following: the renovations match the new All People’s Trail; the trail is being replaced in essentially the same location; the amenities and access benefit the general health and welfare of residents; portions of the trail are ADA accessible; and the essential character of the neighborhood is not negatively affected.

Ms. McCue presented the plan and Kay Carlson, director of the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, provided further information.

During the public hearing, a neighbor across West Park asked about sight lines from street level, especially the proposed treehouse, which is not yet designed. Ms. McCue and Ms. Carlson assured him that the top of the treehouse would not project above street level; it is merely replacing the current structure, which is at the level of Doan Brook. They also assured him that the trailheads would be simple, comprising only an exposed concrete walk, cast sandstone bench, bike rack, and trash receptacles.

The board voted unanimously to approve the improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail at the Nature Center.

The next meeting is Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

Library Board of Trustees, Jan. 21, 2020

January 22nd, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Bertsch and Katz. Absent: Cicarella, Gleisser, Hirsch, Meinhard, Rashid.
Lacking a quorum, the board could do no business and immediately adjourned the meeting.

Kathleen Hickman, observer

Board of Education, Jan. 14, 2020

January 17th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Lisa Cremer, Emmitt Jolly and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, Treasurer Bryan Christman, Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations Scott Stephens, Director of Buildings & Grounds David Boyer, Director of Primary Education Dr. Erin Herbruck, Director of Pupil Services Elizabeth Kimmel, Preschool Coordinator Kristin Koengsberger, High School Principal Eric Juli, Assistant Principal Tiffany Joseph, and teachers Stacey Steggert and Marc Enie

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Isaacs at 6 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Mr. Isaacs explained to the public there would be an organizational meeting to install newly elected board members and elect new officers preceding the regular meeting. Mr. Isaacs then welcomed three Lomond Elementary School 4th grade students to share their IB experiences, followed by comments from Lomond Interim Principal George Clark.

Mr. Christman administered the oath of office to new board member Dr. Emmitt Jolly and returning member Jeffrey Isaacs. Heather Weingart was then nominated and unanimously elected president of the school board for 2020 and Ayesha Bell Hardaway was nominated and unanimously elected vice president for 2020. The board then unanimously agreed to serve without pay and approved several motions renewing various statutory requirements.

Ms. Weingart opened the regular meeting with a vote on the approval of the Dec. 10, 2019, board meeting minutes. The minutes were approved without comment.

Ms. Weingart then opened the meeting to public comment. Angela Chapman introduced herself and the members of the NewONEShaker group promoting equity in the community.

Superintendent Glasner shared the sad news of the death on Jan. 10 of Marcia Joan Jaffe, a beloved retired teacher and cofounder of SGORR. A fund will be established in her honor by SGORR and other events are being planned to commemorate her contribution to the community.

Dr. Glasner then acknowledged students and staff for special recognition: Shaker Heights High School is the No. 1 public high schoolin Ohio, according to PolarisList, a website that gathers data from public and private high schools nationwide and ranks them based on how many students from a high school matriculate at top colleges. Currently, the site tracks Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

The high school has been selected as a German American Partnership Program (GAPP) School of Distinction, which recognizes schools for their outstanding engagement and best practices that facilitate youth exchanges in their school, community, and beyond. Congratulations to German teachers Keith Szalay and Andrea Bradd Cook.

The SHHS class of 1950-51 and PTO are bringing Improbable Players to our district later this month. Improbable Players is a theater group whose work focuses on addiction, alcoholism and the opioid epidemic. There will be two in-school performances and one evening public performance on Thursday, Jan. 23.

The Communications Department, led by Assistant Director Kristen Miller, implemented a new staff Intranet site on shaker.org. The new site provides a password-protected home for employee-specific information.

Members of the boys and girls basketball teams got a special preview before the Cavaliers-Charlotte Hornets game Jan. 2. They were invited to watch warm-ups with the players, including Shaker alum and Charlotte point guard Terry Rozier (SHHS ’12).

Mr. Stephens introduced Betty J. Halliburton, Partnership Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce – U.S. Census Bureau, for a presentation about the importance for school districts to get an accurate count during the 2020 Census. The census occurs only once each decade and an education budget of $675 billion is at stake, particularly affecting special needs and low income students. There will be a special effort to count babies aged 0-5 years. Ms. Halliburton stressed that there was no citizenship question and that all people should be encouraged to answer the census online if possible. The census will begin in March and there are many local census worker positions available to adults over age 18 paying $22.50 per hour to work in their own neighborhood and earn some college tuition money.

A Fernway School update was provided by Mr. Boyer along with Todd Gerber, Gilbane Senior Project Manager, and Christopher P. Dewey, Principal Architect, Van Auken Akins Architects. The interior work will be substantially complete by May 15 and final completion is on track for the first day of classes Aug. 19, 2020. All wall studs, and mechanical, electrical and water installations, are complete and insulation is installed on the second floor. Drywall is next. Roof trusses are set, sheathing is complete, and slate tiles are being mounted. The added parking along Dewey Street requires a zoning variance, which will be presented to neighbors Jan. 30 and then to City Council Feb. 4.

Director of Primary Education, Dr. Erin Herbruck, along with Ms. Elizabeth Kimmel, Director of Pupil Services, and Mrs. Kristin Koengsberger, Preschool Coordinator, reviewed changes to Shaker Schools Early Childhood Program. The goal is to expand the preschool offerings with class compositions that are reflective of the Shaker community. Preschool offerings currently cost $11,000 per student per year, and in order to expand, some changes will be made to the program, including an increase in tuition for the full-day “Shaker’s First Class” program and the implementation of tuition for the half-day “Integrated Preschool” program. The changes: The new “Early Childhood Program – Full Day” will accept up to 18 students per class aged 3-5 years for two classrooms offered only at Onaway School, with paraprofessional support based on student need. Tuition will increase from $8,000 to $9,000 per year, with free or reduced meal eligibility rather than full scholarships.

The new “Early Childhood Program – Half-Day” will remain at Onaway with five classrooms of 16 students per class and paraprofessional support based on student need. Tuition of $2,000 per year will be charged for students without special needs, and free or reduced meal eligibility.

There will be an enrollment lottery due to the level of interest. Program information will be shared publicly on or around Jan. 17; information sessions will be held Jan. 23 and Jan. 27, with applications due Feb. 7 and acceptance notifications made Feb. 21.

High School Principal Eric Juli, Assistant Principal Tiffany Joseph and teachers Stacey Steggert and Marc Enie provided an update on their culture and community efforts. The goal is a culture of trust and risk-taking between students, faculty, and staff whereby each student feels connected to at least one adult in the school.

Ms. Weingart asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. All were approved. Ms. Weingart additionally invited public comment regarding the proposal to reemploy retiree Lisa Gibson as senior administrative assistant, the position Ms. Gibson held before her retirement. There were no public comments.

Dr. Glasner recommended authorizing the execution and delivery of an electricity audit agreement between the District and Power4schools’ partner, Yankel and Associates. These audits have historically identified billing errors in favor of school districts amounting between $5,000-$23,000 per district. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner recommended ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Shaker Heights Board of Education and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Local 200, SEIU, reducing the pay of member Isaiah Leak by $1 per hour of pay effective from Oct. 21, 2019, until he obtains his required student endorsement for his CDL license. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner recommended the school board adopt a Resolution Opposing the State of Ohio EdChoice Scholarship (Voucher) Program. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner presented a second reading of recommended revisions to 13 board policies. A third reading and vote on these policy revisions will occur at the next board meeting.

Mr. Christman presented the monthly financial report and the transfer between funds for the fiscal year to date through November 2019: Real estate tax revenue received YTD was $4.2 million, or 15% more than the prior year, due to a return to a normalized receipt pattern of real estate tax revenue following the perturbations caused by the federal tax law deductions changes for 2018. The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2020 as in Fiscal 2019. Other local revenue was $206,063, or 30% more than the prior year. Other state revenue was $118,071, or 86% more than the prior year due to the $117,616 receipt in October representing one-half of the annual amount for the new Student Wellness & Success Funds enacted with the new state biennial budget. Investment earnings were $175,050, or 30.8% more than the prior year. The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal YTD was $0.6 million or 1.6% more than the prior year amount, due primarily to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The financial report was approved.

Mr. Christman next presented a recommendation to adopt the 2020-2021 Tax Budget and was directed to file the tax budget with the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission.

Dr. Glasner reported on his discussions last week with the Educational Equity Policy team, his sharing with State Senator Matt Dolan the results of meetings with Shaker residents regarding their opposition to EdChoice, his meeting with the district PTO Council Jan. 13, the “Hey Shaker” podcast on EdChoice, and the Facebook Live event scheduled Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. regarding Educational Equity.

The board adjourned the public session at 8:32 p.m.
Frank Goforth, observer

Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee, Dec. 11, 2019

January 17th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

The meeting focused on one business issue: Accepting Round 3 SBA-Muni-County Small Business Initiative Funding ($150,000) and appropriate $50,000 from the Housing and Economic Development Reserve Fund to replenish the SBA Shaker Partnership Loan fund.

Shaker Heights was one of two cities to successfully pilot the first round of the SBA-Muni-County Small Business Initiative Funding in 2014. To launch the pilot program, the city and Cuyahoga County each committed $250,000. Of that initial $500,000 fund, $143,654 remains. There are three possible projects planned for the first quarter of 2020. To be able to continue to support small business growth throughout the remainder of the year, the city applied to receive Round 3 funds ($150,000) from the county. The Round 3 county awards for Shaker Heights, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights are subject to final approval from the Cuyahoga County Board of Control as well as a required contribution by the city of $50,000. Total Round 3 funding ($200,000) in addition to the remaining pilot funds ($143,654) will bring available loan funds to $364, 654. This proposal passed.

The second item on the agenda was an update by Colin Compton about Neighborhood Engagement Work with Kay Coaching. Neighborhood Engagement focuses on building relationships with the residents using a “bottom-up” approach. The residents are encouraged to participate and establish connections with each other, building on the existing skills and interests that they possess. Ultimately, the goal is to build safe and active streets, self-supportive and stable networks, and “pride of place.”

If you are interested in seeing a copy of the PowerPoint, please contact Eileen Anderson at eileenperryanderson@gmail.com.

Eileen Anderson, League observer

Finance Committee, Dec. 9, 2019

January 8th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen member Anthony Moore

Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Interim Director of Finance Frank Brichacek, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Director of Economic Development Laura E. Englehart, Director of Recreation Alexandria Nichols, and Senior Economic Development Specialist Katharyne Starinsky

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:37 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the Nov. 18 Finance Committee meeting and corrected minutes of the Oct. 21, 2019, meeting for approval. Both meeting minutes were approved.

Ms. Nichols requested that the Finance Committee recommend to Council the approval of a contract with Senior Transportation Connections (STC) to provide transportation services for senior Shaker residents who are financially or physically unable to transport themselves. The contract term is Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, with a cost not to exceed $110,000. This amount is included in the 2020 proposed budget for senior transportation. Mr. Williams noted that 65% of senior trips last year were medical-related and asked if most were to South Pointe Hospital or the University Circle hospitals. Ms. Nichols confirmed that they were. Nancy Moore added that she had questioned the funding of this service in the past but has learned from many of our long-time resident seniors that they are critically dependent on the service, not only after losing their ability to drive but particularly when they have difficulty walking or cannot walk at all. Many cannot afford taxis or cannot afford smart phones to arrange rides online. They become prisoners in their own homes where they dream of aging in place. Anthony Moore asked if there were eligibility requirements other than age and residency. Ms. Nichols replied that physical disabilities could qualify a non-senior. Mr. Moore asked if a resident was automatically eligible if they met the age requirement. Ms. Nichols replied that they must first register with the city to confirm eligibility. Mr. Moore asked if a senior was limited to one-way trips. Ms. Nichols answered that a senior can make a round trip, but it is charged as two trips. The request was approved.

Ms. Starinsky requested that the Finance Committee recommend to Council that the city enter into an agreement with the county and federal Small Business Administration (SBA) to accept Round 3 SBA-Muni-County Small Business Finance Initiative funds in the amount of $150,000 and appropriate $50,000 from the Economic Development and Housing Reserve Fund to participate in the Round 3 initiative. Shaker Heights was one of two cities to successfully pilot the first round of these loans in 2014. Since then the city has invested $356,346 in forgivable loans, which resulted in $2,425,009 in total financing for new small businesses. Round 3 will emphasize attracting locally run small businesses, rather than franchises, to the Chagrin-Lee area. Mr. Williams remarked that Protem Healthcare was a home run from the first round of funding and asked if this business was really able to employ 50 people in its small office. Ms. Starinsky replied that Protem had many employees who would check in at the office and then travel to individual homes where their services were provided. Mr. Williams then asked if Protem would need to move to a larger building. Ms. Starinsky replied that Protem had inquired about expansion but were not planning to move. The request was approved.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8 a.m.

Frank Goforth, LWV observer

Board of Education, Dec. 10, 2019

December 14th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:03 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members William L. Clawson, Lisa Cremer, and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, Treasurer Bryan Christman, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Grosse, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marla J. Robinson, Director of Human Resources Crystal Patrick, Shaker Heights Library Director Amy Switzer, and Shaker Heights Library Board Vice President Michael Bertsch

Superintendent Glasner welcomed the public to the meeting, then introduced Joshua Dunnings, a fourth grade student at Boulevard Elementary, to present his experience of the MAC Scholars program. Principal Neal Robinson then offered brief remarks on events and other projects at Boulevard.

The minutes of the board’s Nov. 7 meeting were approved without comment.

Mr. Isaacs next opened the meeting to public comment. Kim Harris and Roscelle Ogbuji voiced their concerns on the equity of school policies, particularly the equity of the suspension/expulsion policy. Ms. Ogbuji also lamented the lack of empathy and compassion in hallway encounters between students and between school personnel and students. Angela Chapman brought the group “New One Shaker” to everyone’s attention; the group promotes equity in Shaker. Vicki Elder encouraged everyone to complete one of the Strategic Planning Feedback Forms and share their thoughts on equity, or use the online feedback form. Monica Boone felt that student voices were not always heard and asked what form of complaint system is available for students to express their frustrations and suggestions.

Superintendent Glasner acknowledged students and/or staff for special recognition and/or honors: *The artwork of eight Shaker High art students was selected for inclusion in the Cleveland Clinic’s eXpressions exhibition. Shaker Heights High School had more student works selected than any other school in the exhibition. The opening, including a formal program and reception, will be held on Thursday, February 13, 2020. *Fernway students and staff had the opportunity to sign a steel beam on Nov. 13 and 14, which will be the last one put into place at Fernway Elementary. The beam is part of a construction tradition, known as “topping out.” Fernway Principal Chris Hayward thanked Gilbane and Van Auken Akins for carrying on this tradition, and to Shaker Schools COO Jeff Grosse for making it happen. *High School seniors who signed their NCAA Letters of Intent: Calvin Brown, baseball, University of Pennsylvania; Lora Clarke, field hockey, University of Michigan; and Ryan Skall, soccer, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Board President Jeff Isaacs recognized Bill Clawson for his service to the board for the last 8 years. This meeting would be Bill’s last, at least for the near future. The board presented Bill with a Shaker Schools armchair for his service and Bill offered a short remembrance of the progress the board had made during his tenure, particularly regarding equity and the Pre-K program. Mr. Isaacs then asked Mr. Clawson to “take the gavel” and chair the remainder of his final School Board meeting.

COO Jeffrey Grosse, with the help of Gilbane & Associates personnel, presented an update on the Fernway rebuilding project. The roof is going back on and the new addition is being constructed during winter break. Interior wall studs, piping, wiring, and ductwork is being installed in both the old and new sections and drywall installation will begin this month. The building is on schedule to open for classes next August.

Ms. Switzer and Mr. Bertsch provided an update on the main library building restoration and upgrade, particularly upgrades which served the schools and students. These include a Technology Hub, a café, teen services, children’s services, and expanded study rooms on the first floor as well as a “Play & Learn” room on the second floor.

Mr. and Ms. Patrick presented the new administrative procedures for handling reports of employee misconduct. The goals were to build relations with union groups, provide a consistent, repeatable and equitable due process which not only conformed to the Ohio revised Code but also encouraged employee participation and delineated administrator duties. Board members voiced their desire for a process that was more transparent for the community while still maintaining confidentiality for the employee.

Dr. Robinson presented an update on the Strategic Planning Process for the Shaker Schools. The Board has selected Resolute Educational Solutions LLC to help craft the District’s next strategic plan. Parents, staff and the community are encouraged to review and contribute to the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Equius Group founder Erica Merritt presented an update on Educational Equity. A Leading Equity Cohort comprising School Board members, district administrators and Dr. Glassner have met to learn, engage, and explore challenging concepts around race and other dimensions of diversity; a second cohort of community leaders will launch Jan. 22. An Educational Equity Policy Implementation Advisory Team will be formed; more than 130 people have already applied to participate and the first members meeting will be called in January. A Facebook Live event on Jan. 21 will explore the Equity Policy with the community; it will be promoted via email, PTO newsletters, and social media channels. Ms. Merritt and John Morris, president of the Shaker Heights Teacher’s Association, will launch a community book discussion regarding equity and inclusion in early 2020; Ms. Merritt recommended “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram Kendi.

Mr. Clawson asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. All were approved. Dr. Glasner did want to call attention to the retirements of Mathew Hoyt and Deborah Wright for their service of 38 and 35 years respectively.

Dr. Glasner introduced two Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) granting two extra paid holidays for OAPSE Local 149 secretary/clerical workers and SEIU Local #200 workers. The motion was approved.

A first of three readings of revisions to several board policies were presented, a third reading and final vote will occur at the February 2020 meeting.

Mr. Christman presented the monthly financial report and distributed detailed financial statements.

For the fiscal year to date through September 2019: Real estate tax revenue received YTD was $4.2 million, or 15% more than prior year, due to a return to a normalized receipt pattern of real estate tax revenue following the perturbations caused by the federal tax law deductions changes for 2018. The District is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2020 as in Fiscal 2019. Other local revenue was $221,871, or 37.6% more than prior year. The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal YTD was $1 million, or 3.1% more than the prior year, due primarily to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The financial report was approved.

Mr. Christman next presented a proposal to accept a $22,000 school safety grant from the state of Ohio. The proposal was approved.

Mr. Christman then presented three separate proposals regarding the renewal of insurance administration plans covering dental/medical/drug costs for district employees: a Medical Mutual of Ohio Medical & Hospital Services Agreement, an Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield Dental Services Agreement, and a MMO-Express Scripts Prescription Drug Agreement. The costs for each plan will remain the same as for 2019. The three motions were approved.

Mr. Christman also presented a proposal to approve Tuesday, Jan. 14, as the date for the fiscal year 2020-2021 tax budget hearing. The proposal was approved.

Dr. Glasner reported on the feedback he had received during the community meetings reporting the results of the State Report Card for each school. He was particularly shocked by the doubling in the number of EdChoice designated schools statewide between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 due to the poorly considered changes to the EdChoice criteria. Dr. Glasner was specifically critical of the way “progress” was measured and cited examples how “less excellent” would be judged as “lack of progress,” moving a school onto the designated list, as was the case for Woodbury and Onaway.

The public session was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

Frank Goforth, observer

Safety and Public Works Committee, Dec. 6, 2019

December 12th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Nancy Moore, council member and chair; Anne Williams, council member; Jonathan Hren and James Sammon, citizen members; Jeffrey DeMuth, chief of police; Patrick Sweeney, chief of fire

Others present: Kelly Baker, special assistant, and Christian Maier, assistant director, Department of Public Works.

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12062019-369?html=true

The meeting was called to order at 8:10 a.m. by Nancy Moore.

Since there was no quorum, no business could be held. Ms. Moore and Ms. Williams had small corrections to the minutes of the October meeting (the November meeting was canceled), portions of which were garbled on the audio tape. The minutes await approval at the next meeting.

Chris Maier presented the proposed easement for a parcel just south of Shaker Boulevard and Coventry Road to give NEORSD access to the large diameter sewer installed there earlier this year as part of the Heights Interceptor. The sense of the committee was to grant the easement.

Ms. Moore congratulated Debra Messing on her retirement and introduced Kelly Baker from the Public Works Department, who will take on Ms. Messing’s duties for the committee. Ms. Moore also thanked the committee, both council and citizen members, whose terms are over. She noted that the mayor will appoint new members for committee work in 2020.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:20 a.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, Dec. 3, 2019

December 12th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, council member; Joseph J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning, citizen members

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William M. Gruber, law director

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12032019-362?html=true

The meeting was recorded and the audio is available here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/DocumentCenter/View/2684/2019-1203-BZACPC-Recording

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. The committee members attended a joint work session with the Architectural Board of Review from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The minutes of the Nov. 7, 2019, meeting, approved unanimously without corrections.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Davis Residence, 2734 Endicott Road: Public hearing on the request of Jason Rion, Highland Construction, on behalf of Jed and Jill Davies for a variance to the pool equipment location regulations. The applicant proposes to replace their in-ground swimming pool in the rear yard in essentially the same location as the existing pool. The existing pool equipment will be replaced but sited in a different location behind the garage, 2 feet from the rear property line. Code requires a 10-foot setback for mechanical equipment. The existing 5-foot-tall wood fence will screen the view of the pool equipment. Two neighbors wrote in support of the project.

Staff supported the request. There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the variance.

Malone Residence, 24100 Stanford Road: Public hearing on the request of Michael Beightol, Exscape Designs, on behalf of Ann and Kevin Malone, for a variance to the location requirements for an open porch. The applicant proposes to erect an attached porch/pavilion with a fireplace off of the rear of the house. An attached open porch is required to be located in the rear yard and must be set back 9 feet 8 inches from the side property line to match the existing house in this instance. A setback of 3 feet 5 inches to the rear corner is proposed. New trees and an existing 6-foot tall wood fence are proposed to screen the pavilion from the side neighbor.

Staff supported the request. There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the variance.

City Planning Commission

Hornton Residence, 3639 Avalon Road: Public hearing on the request of Douglas and Sharee Thornton for subdivision of land in order to join a city-owned vacant lot with their property. The applicant is purchasing the vacant lot next door at 3643 Avalon Road. The applicant proposes to integrate the vacant lot into their yard with a fence. This combined lot would meet code requirements in the SF-3 Single Family Residential zoning district. Subdivision of land requires City Planning Commission approval.

Staff supported the request. There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the subdivision of land.

Shaker Heights Animal Hospital, 3505 Lee Road: Public hearing on the request of Jeremy and Lisa Welsh, Shaker Heights Animal Hospital, for variances and a conditional use permit in order to operate an animal hospital/veterinary clinic. The applicant proposes to relocate their animal hospital business to the former bank property at the corner of Lee and Kenyon Roads. A conditional use permit is required for an animal hospital/veterinarian office. A variance is required to locate this business closer than 100 lineal feet to a residential use, as there is a house next door on Kenyon Road, separated by an existing fence. A variance is required to enclose the dumpster with a wood fence instead of the required brick wall. Council confirmation is required.

Staff supported the request. During the board discussion, the issue of waste products and how often the dumpster would be emptied was raised. There will be bushes around the turf-covered pet relief stations and a stand that provides plastic pet-waste bags and a place to dispose them.

During the public hearing, James Williams, owner of the home next door on Kenyon Road, had no demands but said he really did not know what questions to ask. Regarding the dumpster, he mentioned that with businesses at that location in the past, both early morning pickups and infrequent pickups were both problems. He suggested moving the dumpster away from the back of his home and fencing it on all four sides. The plan is to enclose the dumpster fully with a solid wood fence and to keep the gate locked. The animal hospital/veterinary clinic has had no odor or waste pickup problems at its current location. David Lewis, Lewis Electronics, across the street on Lee Road, welcomed the new business, which he noted required no subsidies from the city. He mentioned traffic problems going in and out of the property from Lee Road, but that there would be a lot less traffic than was the case for the banks. Nick Fedor, Shaker Heights Development Corporation, also spoke in favor of the business.

The board voted unanimously to approve the variances and conditional use permit with proviso that the dumpster be moved and fully enclosed and its placement approved by staff.

The next meeting is Jan. 2, 2020, at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 pm.

Barbara Bradley, observer

Library Board of Trustees, Nov. 18, 2019

December 7th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: All board members, Library Director Amy Switzer, library staff. Also present: representatives of Bialosky Architects and Shaker Heights Schools superintendent Dr. David Glasner.

The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m. at Bertram Woods branch.

After approval of the minutes from the October meeting, a presentation was made by Bialosky Architects concerning the schematic design for renovations of Main, and questions about the next steps. Including all desired features would take the project over budget, so the next steps include refining cost estimates and making choices to bring the project cost down. It was pointed out that this was not an unusual scenario in large projects. The building committee will be proceeding with that task, with input from Bialosky and Turner Construction.

Dr. Glasner spoke to the board about the possibilities of locating the school district’s outreach center and registration office at the library. The suggestion of school-library collaboration was received enthusiastically by board members, who approved drafting a memorandum of understanding about the matter and placing it on the agenda for the December meeting. The issue is especially timely since it would involve designing appropriate space in the renovated building.

The fiscal officer’s report noted an increase in the Public Library Funds received from the state over last year, and budget projections indicate a sizeable surplus at year end. The board approved the 2020 salary schedule and a required resolution for a tax advance for 2020, as well as matters involving bank accounts related to the renovation process.

The library technology plan was introduced and remained on first reading. The plan includes revamping the website and shifting files to cloud storage, as well as renovation-related items.

The third quarter usage report was presented: The only sector reflecting decreases was that of CDs and DVDs. Other electronic media use increased, as did (slightly) hard copy books. Gifts were accepted and allocated; staff changes noted. The board went into executive session at 8:30 p.m.

Kathleen Hickman, Observer

City Council, Nov. 18, 2019

December 7th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Mayor David Weiss and all seven Council members were present: Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams, and Rob Zimmerman

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Mayor David Weiss.

The following are highlights of that meeting.

  • Proposed Tax Increment Financing on Wendy’s Property: Under consideration is a proposal to use tax increment financing (TIF) as a tool to promote additional development of properties on Warrensville Center Road and Chagrin Boulevard in the greater Van Aken District. The city can leverage the demolition and construction of the new Wendy’s restaurant at 3516 Warrensville Center Road by establishing a TIF and directing the proceeds into a fund for future development activities. Council is being asked to approve a TIF on the Wendy’s property and to authorize entering into a School Compensation Agreement with the Shaker Heights City School District. Earlier this month the Board of Education approved the TIF and authorized entering into the School Compensation Agreement.

A base value of the property is established at the time Council passes an ordinance authorizing the TIF. The increase in the value of the property over the base value creates the increment that is captured by the TIF. The property owner continues to pay the full amount of the “taxes,” but the additional monies are put into a fund for improvement activities. The type of TIF being authorized can only be used for public improvements in the geographical area of the Van Aken District to generally benefit the TIF property.

Council passed the ordinance unanimously.

  • Acceptance and Support of the Forward Together Vision Plan: The city is being asked to accept and support The Forward Together Vision Plan, “A Vision for Community Facilities,” in partnership with the school district and the public library.

The plan was prepared by the Joint Facilities Task Force with assistance from consultant “Planning NEXT,” through a collaborative process that included four public meetings, participation by nearly 800 people, and more than 4,250 individual comments and ideas. Key elements include an overview of existing facilities and connections; a collection of projects, processes, or programs suggested by the community to advance the future of Shaker facilities; and a list of the next steps to continue the collaborative effort beyond the Vision Plan.

The Planning Commission recommended establishing a structure format to ensure continued progress. Mr. Zimmerman stressed that the plan is a framework. Council passed the ordinance and accepted the Vision Plan unanimously.

  • Improvements to Public Land – GCRTA Blue Line Rapid Terminus Substation: Greater Cleveland RTA proposes to install an electrical substation building to power the Blue Line Rapid Transit line north and adjacent to the Blue Line Terminus Station tracks and the rear parking lot of the Upstairs apartment building in the Van Aken District. The Planning Commission and the Architectural Board of Review have both approved the project. Council passed the ordinance unanimously.
  • 2020 Cuyahoga County Municipal Grant Application for Chagrin – Lynnfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements: The grant application is for $150,000 with no local match required. Maximal award possible is $150,000 through a competitive Block Grant Program of the Cuyahoga County Department of Development. The request is to install enhancements at the Chagrin-Lynnfield intersection to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross this busy Chagrin Boulevard location. The city was told in 2005 that the signal at the intersection was not warranted, and it was removed that same year. A second study in 2018 also indicated that a signal was not warranted. Sussex residents have requested its replacement since 2005. [The Ohio Department of Transportation performs these studies and makes these determinations.]

The $150,000 grant will be paired with the city’s other application for $50,000 through the county’s 2020 Supplemental Grant Program and with $20,000 in local dollars set aside in the capital budget to work on problems at this intersection. Council passed this ordinance unanimously.

  • Compulsory Retirement Age: City ordinances state that employees other than firefighters and law enforcement officers have no mandatory retirement age. Firefighters and law enforcement officers have a mandatory retirement age of 60. A new labor agreement includes language giving firefighters and law enforcement officers the right to request up to three 12-month waivers of the mandatory retirement age to extend employment to the age of 63, with a process ensuring continued physical and psychological fitness. City ordinances need to be changed to establish a procedure to request a waiver. In addition, code must be amended to authorize waivers for administrative firefighters and law enforcement personnel who are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement. Council passed this ordinance unanimously.  
  • Labor Agreement with Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association/Sergeants and Lieutenants Unit: Council is being asked to ratify the labor agreement for the 2019- 2021 contract. Wage adjustments are 2.25% in 2019 and 2020, with a wage only re-opener in 2021. Some other components of the agreement include “age, ancestry, and gender identity or expression” added to the No Discrimination article; a new section allowing sergeants and lieutenants to request up to three 12-month waivers of the mandatory retirement age to extend employment to the age of 63, with a process ensuring continued physical and psychological fitness; a new substance abuse policy that includes random drug and alcohol testing, including a test for nicotine; a new fitness and wellness program requiring a mandatory annual physical exam and fitness assessment, and the opportunity to participate in a Fitness Incentive test, the completion of which includes a $1,000 incentive payment; and a memorandum of understanding requiring a spousal third-party healthcare benefit survey. Council passed this ordinance unanimously.
  • Request to Appropriate Round Nine Funds from County Demolition Fund Program: In four rounds of funding, the Cuyahoga County Demolition Fund has awarded the city $375,000, $420,000, $440,000, and most recently $400,000 for commercial and residential demolition. Demolition is the tool of last resort, and the mayor tours troubled properties as part of the decision-making process. Council is being asked to appropriate the $400,000 in the General Capital Fund to carry out property demolition. The city will be reimbursed for 100% of eligible demolition expenses as the work is completed. This includes property clean-out, asbestos survey and abatement, and the cost of property demolition. Council passed this ordinance unanimously.
  • Recommendation to set new rates for the sewer system in Shaker Heights: The city has long established usage fees for its public sewer system. The last time the sewer use rate was increased was 2001. Since 2013 the revenues generated from those fees have been insufficient to pay for maintenance, infrastructure improvements, and debt service, so General Fund revenues have been used to supplement sewer fee revenues. Increased sewer user fees are now recommended to eliminate the General Fund subsidy. General Fund dollars exceeding $2.5 million are being transferred to the Sewer Fund, a shortfall that is no longer sustainable. The sewer fee proposal includes a new monthly fee in a fixed amount paid by each property owner and an increase in the MCF (1,000 cubic feet of water) rate. The new monthly fixed fee would be phased in over four years beginning in 2020. Council is being asked to put this ordinance on first reading to allow for more time for public discussion and understanding of the problem and the need for more local dollars. Final adoption is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2019. The ordinance passed unanimously.

The Council meeting was adjourned and a two-hour Joint Council Work Session with the Finance and Administration Committee on the proposed 2020 Capital Budget was held. [This observer did not stay for that session.] The final operating and capital budgets will be presented on Dec. 2. The adoption of the budget ordinances is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Jan Devereaux, Observer