Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, Feb. 4, 2020

February 11th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports, Uncategorized

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Sean Malone, council member; Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, citizen member

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:


The meeting was said to be recorded, but the audio was not available at the time of this writing; there is still no audio of the January 2020 meeting available.

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Mr. Feinstein had been waiting for Dr. Ganning to arrive, but she was delayed and did not get to the meeting. Before attending to the meeting’s business, Mayor Weiss welcomed Sean Malone as the council representative to the Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission.

The minutes of the Jan. 7, 2020, meeting were approved unanimously, with one correction.

Fernway School – 17420 Fernway Road

Public Hearing on the request of Chris Dewey, Van Auken Akins Architects, on behalf of the Shaker Heights School District, Fernway School, for site plan review, subdivision of land, and variances in order to expand the parking lot and consolidate the playground as part of the renovation of the school. Two building additions and a subdivision of land were approved last year as part of the renovation of the fire-damaged school building. The site work includes expansion of the parking lot on the Dorchester Road side of the building and consolidation and relocation of the outdoor play area to the southern rear yard. The applicant proposes to consolidate two parcels of land. The proposed parking lot adds 18 spaces in the Dorchester Road side yard, set back 12 feet from the property line and screened with shrubs, but code requires a 50-foot setback from the street and a 25-foot landscape area for a parking lot. The dumpsters are proposed to be enclosed with a masonry wall and remain located in the Ardmore Road side yard, but code allows dumpsters only in the rear yard (Fernway School has three front yards since it faces three streets).

During the public hearing, Brendan Daly, a resident of Ardmore Road whose property abuts the southern rear yard of the school, expressed concern about the proposed landscape screening for the playground and what he believed would be increased use of the site, perhaps even to 24/7/365, when finished. The architect stated there would be ample site lighting and the mayor indicated regular police patrols of the area would prevent problems.

Staff suggested approval of the site plan and variances to both dumpster location and parking ordinances, with the conditions that the final subdivision to combine two parcels into one under district ownership be submitted to the city and filed with the county, and that a taller shrub species be used in the landscape bed on the Dorchester Road side

The board voted unanimously to approve the site plan and variances.

The meeting was adjourned around 8:00 p.m. The next meeting is March 3 at 7 p.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, May 7, 2019

June 4th, 2019  |  Published in Uncategorized

Members Present: Mayor and Chair David Weiss; Council Member Ron Zimmerman; Citizen Members John J. Boyle, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning

Others Present: Director of Law William M. Gruber, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Senior Planner Dan Feinstein

The agenda for this meeting may be found here:


The meeting was recorded and the audio is available here:


The meeting Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

The minutes of the April 2, 2019 meeting were approved without comment and are available here:


Since there were many new faces among the visitors, Mayor Weiss told the assembled group the format for these meetings: the hearings start with a report from staff, applicants then typically provide more information, board asks questions of both applicant and staff, then the hearing is opened for public content. He assured the group that there would be plenty of time for their comments.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Mendell Residence, 2676 Cranlyn Road:

Public Hearing on the request of Stuart Mendel, 2676 Cranlyn Road, for a variance to the fence location and height regulations on a corner lot. The applicant proposes to install a 4-foot-tall black aluminum ornamental fence that will connect to an existing wire fence on the Calverton side of this corner lot at Cranlyn and Calverton Roads, but Code allows only a 3-foot-tall fence on a corner side yard. Code requires that fences located in corner side yards not extend in front of the setback line of the principle building on the adjacent lot. The fence is proposed to be located 36 feet off the Calverton Road sidewalk, but the adjacent house on Calverton Road is set back 48 feet. The area around the fence is a mature garden planted with a variety of existing shrubs and trees, which will remain to screen the fence from street view. Additional evergreen bushes are proposed to further screen the fence and rear yard. Staff supports the fence location and height variances.

The applicant, Mr. Mendel, said he and his wife had moved to the house in 2016 and discovered that the neighborhood had lots of dogs. The fence is meant to contain the family’s two dogs and keep other dogs out of the yard. There is a temporary fence there now that you cannot see, and plantings (six burning bush plants spaces with others) are planned to keep the permanent fence hidden. Mr. Zimmerman comments that he lives in the neighborhood. that there are many dogs, and that he understands the need for a barrier for their dogs to not get out of the yard. There are other corner lot fences similar to this one that provide precedent in the neighborhood.

There were no comments during the public hearing. The board had no further questions and a vote was taken. The panel unanimously approved the fence location and height variances with the condition that a final landscape plan be approved by staff.

Supporting documents are here: http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/835?fileID=2870

Choi Residence, 3554 Riedam Road:

Public Hearing on the request of Connie Choi, 3554 Riedham Road, for a variance to the location and setback requirements for air-conditioning condenser units. The applicant proposes to locate two such units in the side yard (the property is a 2-family residence), located 2 feet from the side property line. The existing side yard is 5 feet wide. Code requires that air-conditioning condenser units in a side yard be located only in side yards measuring a minimum of 25 feet wide and be screened by a solid wood fence or evergreen vegetation. Rather than using evergreen shrubs to screen the units from the street, the applicant proposes a solid wood gate, which goes with the other treatments there; the back of the neighbor’s garage screens the area from the side. The units meet the maximum 76-decibel sound limit. Staff supports the location of the 2 air-conditioning condenser units and setback variances.

There were no comments during the public hearing. The panel unanimously approved the location and setback variances for the air-conditioning condenser units with the obligation of continuing to meet the city’s noise ordinance.

Supporting documents are here:


Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard:

Public Hearing on the request of Craig Cawrse, CT Consultants, representing Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard, for variances to the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and the accessory structure location requirements. The applicant proposes to construct a new soccer field and parking lot along South Park Boulevard, additional parking in the Courtland parking lot, and a new maintenance structure. In addition, 3 tennis courts will be relocated. The new South Park Boulevard parking lot will be located 5 feet 3 inches off the sidewalk, and the extended Courtland parking lot will be set back 14 feet from the sidewalk; Code, however, requires a 25-foot landscape setback around an institutional property. Evergreen shrubs, trees, and mounding are proposed to screen the parking lots. The spaces in the new parking lots are proposed to be 8 feet 6 inches in width, but Code requires a minimum 9-foot-wide parking space. A new maintenance structure is proposed adjacent to the dumpster loading area on the Courtland side of the building, which is in the front yard and set back 40 feet from the property line, but Code allows an accessory structure only in the rear yard. All the land surrounding Hathaway Brown school is considered front yard. Evergreen trees and shrubs are proposed to screen the structure from the street view. Staff supports the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and accessory structure location variances, with several conditions and review by the architectural board.

The head of school, Dr. Fran Bisselle, related a bit of Hathaway Brown’s history in Shaker Heights (here since 1927) and that students currently number 380 and faculty/staff 200. She pointed out that students, faculty/staff, board members, parents, and neighbors were all in attendance at this hearing. This is the first part of a master plan that is intended to address some issues of an aging structure as well as developing institution, although there are no plans to grow. The school wants to athletic fields for lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer so children do not have to be bussed to Ursuline College for practices. They would like to create an additional 93 safe parking spaces to accommodate students; students and faculty/staff do not park in the same places—where you park partially depends on the entrance you use. The school wants to be a good neighbor, steward of its land, and a safe school. In maximizing its footprint, it understands the limitations. They have had an open house for neighbors to see plan and raise concerns/problems and have addressed some of those concerns.

During the public hearing five neighbors who live on North Park or Sherbrook Road objected to the loss of green space in both proposed parking lots, but especially replacing the public land at the Sherbrooke and North Park triangle with an unsightly parking lot proposed; the closeness of that parking area to Doan Brook; and the possibility that property values will decrease as a result. There was discussion of underground parking and/or a parking structure, both of which Dr. Bisselle said were prohibitively expensive. The architects said construction would take place over a two-year period so as not to interfere unduly with school activities.

After a good deal of back and forth between the panel members and the architects and head of school about elements of the master plan, the panel unanimously approved the parking lot location, landscape setback, parking space width, and accessory structure location variances with the following conditions: the South Park parking lot be revised to be no closer to the South Park Boulevard sidewalk than the proposed parking space adjacent to the east side of the driveway; the loop pick-up entry to the natatorium parking lot be eliminated; staff review and approval of a revised landscape plan and tree survey, the parking lot light fixture (to ensure a shielded fixture), and the parking lot lighting in the South Park Boulevard lot turn off at the end of school activities; the Architectural Board of Review approve the storage structure design.

Supporting documents are here:


City Planning Commission

Shaker Heights Country Club, Parkland Drive:

Continuation of a Public Hearing on the request of Rob Myers, Myers homes, representing Shaker Heights Country Club, Parkland Drive, for a subdivision of land and an amendment to the zoning map to create two single-family lots. The case was continued at the July 11, 2018 meeting to review the impact of regulations regarding the Doan Brook watershed, including the location of the flood plain and other environmental conditions on the property. The two proposed single-family parcels are each more than one acre in size at the western end of their property on the north side of Parkland Drive, at the intersection with Attleboro Road. The new parcels are proposed to be rezoned from the PR Parks and Recreation zoning district to SF-1 Single Family Residential zoning district. The club intends to sell the two new lots for individual single-family construction. This request requires Council action. Staff supports the rezoning and subdivision of land, with several conditions including no on-site organic material storage, a maintenance and access agreement for Doan Brook, and a conservation easement held by a third party and recorded on the plats.

The president of Shaker Heights Country Club, Lee Weingart, said the plan has three benefits: the city will gain income tax and the schools property tax; the contaminated soil on-site will be removed and replaced; the storage tanks for gas on-site will be removed. It is privately held land that is available to be used. The Country Club provides a public service. Unlike any other golf clubs in the area, it does not ask visitors to leave, and runners, walkers, and dog walkers are on the golf course year-round and skiers when there is snow. The Shaker Heights Country Club is a community asset and also a friend and partner of the community.

The panel asked questions and learned that, like any other infill home proposed within the city, the design will be reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review and site plan and any variances will be reviewed by the Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission. Mr. Gruber clarified that a conservation easement on the property, required by Code, will preclude development anywhere close to the stream or in the flood plain; that the Country Club would need to acquire all environmental approvals and disposal permits that are required by state and federal law; that codified ordinances require review of any such removal and/or land disturbance on this site before any work commences; that the Van Sweringen brothers, developers of Shaker Heights, gave the land to the Country Club—it was never owned by the city—and any deed restrictions on that property have expired and are no longer enforceable. Later Mayor Weiss, citing his real estate experience, said the owner of the property is clearly responsible for any environmental or health studies and removal analysis, as well as also for any of the environmental clean-up. There are clear environmental laws at the state and federal levels with which the Country Club will need to comply. Mr. Weingart said Partner’s Environmental completed the Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental studies requested by the City Planning Commission and that a document has been submitted that shows the extent of any environmental issues on the site. Mr. Meyers said there are different levels of contamination, and the type at this site is not considered to be a hazardous controlled substance; it will be removed, but it is not the worst of contamination levels in any way. He related that they have contacted several excavation companies that are familiar with how to remove this type of contaminant and will follow all environmental regulations with the removal and disposal of the contaminated material.

During the public hearing, five neighbors spoke. One, who lives across the street on Parkland, is a cancer epidemiologist and employed by the Cleveland Clinic. He said that the benzo(a)pyrene in the contaminated soil that had been dumped at the site is six times what is permitted in a residential development and that he is concerned about how the removal will affect residences nearby and the public at large. He also indicated that the gates to the area had been left open lately, as if the Country Club wanted neighbors to see the area as an eyesore. He also wanted to know if there is conflict of interest with any of the panel being members of the Country Club. Mayor Weiss responded later that the city does have conflict of interest policies and that no one on the panel was a member of the club. Other residents wanted to keep the area as green space but to abate the infill in any case—to clean up the dump regardless.

Dr. Ganning was concerned that there is a carcinogen in the soil that could be an ongoing issue. She insisted on additional testing after any remediation and removal of soil to make sure nothing dangerous has seeped into the soil or gone farther than what is indicated in the studies by Partners’ Environmental. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells said he does not think that the development is worth the loss of the green space.

A motion was made to recommend approval. Mr. Boyle, Mayor Weiss, and Councilman Zimmerman voted aye; Mr. Dreyfus-Wells voted nay; Dr. Ganning abstained. The motion passed with the following conditions: that a permanent conservation easement be recorded with each parcel that includes the boundaries of the 75-foot riparian setback and the 100-year flood plain, whenever it exceeds the riparian setback; that the conservation easement be assigned to an appropriate third party as described in Section III D 2 h of the riparian and wetland setback regulations; that riparian setbacks be clearly delineated on site before any land-disturbing activity; that a maintenance access easement agreement is created between the Country Club and the city that includes access to both banks of Doan Brook and is recorded with the plats of each new lot; that Shaker Heights Country Club not be allowed to establish on-site storage of organic material at another location on the property and that organic material must be removed from the property; that final subdivision plat needs to be submitted to the city and filed with the county.

Supporting documents are here:


The mayor adjourned the meeting at 10:15 pm.

The next meeting is June 4, 2019, 7:00 pm.

Barbara Bradley

Board of Education, August 2018

September 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Uncategorized

Shaker Heights Board of Education
August 14, 2018
Shaker Administration Building

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:00 p.m.

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and Board members: Bill Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins, and Treasurer Bryan Christman.

The Board Approved the minutes of the July 17th Board Meeting.

1) Public commenters Dan Hoffman on achievement gap and Lisa Vahey on the Equity Task Force followed.
2) Interim Shaker Schools Superintendent Dr. Wilkins recognized the following For the past four years, Karen DeMauro’s High School portfolio class has participated in the Memory Project, a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence, and extreme poverty.; 18 Shaker students traveled to the 2018 National Latin Convention; 3 juniors were named, the mission of which is to the Attorney General Teen Ambassador Board, its mission to provide Ohio’s future leaders with an inside look at Ohio law and government. Eight alums will be inducted into the Shaker HS Alumni Hall of Fame September 28 – the full list and bios are on the website. Shaker sent its IB coordinators and coaches to the IB Global Conference in July. Two new assistant principals were hired – one at the HS and one at the MS.
3) The Equity Task Force update by community member Lisa Vahey followed. She reported on the progress over the past 3 months and highlighted upcoming events open to the public including a Book Chat by the authors of “All-American Boys” on October 1 at the SHHS at 7 pm and a film night discussion on the struggle for integration. The task force is working on how to educate the general public on their work and to put their working time line on the website.
4) Director of Operations Dave Boyer provided an update on the district capital plan and the summer construction programs with the help of the architects and consultants. All are aware of the start of school August 22 and it is hoped as much can be done prior to that however rain and unforeseen changes will delay the completion of the much needed parking lot improvements at the High School and Onaway. Some work will happen over the weekends like the HS boiler replacement. Five pilot classrooms are done; 4 in process; upgrading the main entrance of the Middle School will be rebid; some projects are done and being closed out.
5) Fernway Public Adjuster Michael Hickle from Alex N. Sill company spoke about their role as the main adjuster allowing the district to be about the business of education! He reviewed the following: site inspections and walk thrus; total loss content reviews, roof clearing and roof-deck joint inspection; temporary roof inspection (a permanent roof can be installed over top), restoration of power, fire alarms restored; installation of camera and security system, A/C operational in the library, and the architect selection process which will drive the permanent repairs.
6) School operations- Dr. Breeden and Principal Hayward – Fernway teachers and staff were given about $1100 to bury supplies and personalize classrooms ($600 per teacher from Shaker Schools Foundation and $500 from the district). Fernway placement letters coming out today. The 3 host schools will have ice cream socials complete with buses for students to try. Parking for new teachers/staff at the 3 host buildings will be premium. The district will work with the Shaker police to determine if any additional street parking can be freed up to handle staff and parents.
7) All personnel updates and changes were approved.
8) The following business items were approved: High School fire alarm bid accepted; change orders for HS and Onaway parking lots and foundation work.
9) The board voted to approve the payment in lieu of transportation resolution at an annual cost of $250/pupil affected. The board voted to approve the school bus stops for the upcoming school year in accordance with the Ohio Administrative code. The board approved the renumbering of the parcel numbers for the Van Aken Plaza development project. The third reading of some board policies was made and adopted. The board approved the authorizing of the 2018-2019 membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
10) The board will soon put together an RFP in looking for a search firm for the permanent superintendent.
11) The Treasurer’s report: Financially, final 2018 fiscal year report showed a $600,000 favorable variance. The General Fund unencumbered fund balance (cash less encumbrances) at June 30, 2018 was $50.8 million, an increase of $10.5 million from the prior year. The balance is $7.4 million higher than the original budget for the year, due primarily to the accelerated tax advances received due to the December federal tax law change and 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 the bonds, reimbursed from the bond issuance proceeds,
• Enterprise status: the District has selected NEOnet IC to support its fiscal services including serving as a project leader for the conversion of the District’s fiscal systems from USAS to SunGard beginning July 1, 2018 for a target ‘go-live’ date of July 1, 2019.
• MS roof – about $2 million was encumbered and paid in the FY2017 budget and this money was reimbursed in December 2018 due to the bond passing.
• Mr. Christman also reported on the following legislative items: House Bill (HB) 87, which requires funds that are returned to the state because of a community school enrollment audit to be credited back to certain public school districts; HB 312, which deals with the use of credit cards and debit cards by school districts and other public entities.
12) Ohio Association of School Business Officials (“OASBO”). This Plan is designed to allow an “Eligible Employer” to establish its own “eligible deferred compensation plan” under Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue IRC (“IRC”). Vote unanimous as a compliance issue.

The Board adjourned the public session at 8:35 pm.

Respectfully submitted by Observer Holly Wang

Shaker Heights Chapter VOTER Newsletter

April 3rd, 2017  |  Published in Uncategorized


County Council, Nov. 25, 2014

November 30th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting:  November 25, 2014

Observer: Janice Patterson

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

The meeting was called to order promptly at 5:00 p.m. by President C. Ellen Connally with all Council members except David Greenspan present. The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m. There was a 15-minute executive session about halfway through the meeting.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

President Connally stated that the closing of the MetroHealth System clinic at Asia Plaza came as a surprise to Council members and that she would join Council member Yvonne Conwell in introducing a resolution that would require MetroHealth to require a 90-day-notice to Council when closing a site. County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s only statement of the evening was his “on point” comment on this contemplated action.

A public comment was made by Janice Ridgeway of Garden Valley Neighborhood House urging Council’s support for the pending contract supporting emergency food services.

III. Business Transacted

Six items were approved upon second reading under suspension of rules:

  • Amendment to MetroHealth policies & procedures permitting joint purchasing with other local hospitals
  • Authorization for sale of sales tax revenue bonds for sewer district improvements and for County facilities improvements
  • Sale of tax-exempt economic development bonds for the Medical Mart/Convention Center project
  • Sale of taxable economic development bonds for the Western Reserve Fund (a revolving loan fund supporting job creation and retention in the County)
  • Award of $1.095K fiscal agent services contract to United Way for emergency food purchases for Cuyahoga County residents

Nine items received their second reading:

*  contract for community works service placement and supervision program

*  group healthcare benefits for county employees and eligible dependents with three providers

MetroHealth System Year 2015 Budget

*  amend name of fiber maintenance service provider

*  contracts for 22 persons to provide real estate appraisal services

*  an ordinance establishing guidelines for financial management of County operations and a long-term County financial plan

Ten items received first reading and were referred to various committees:

  • Six resolutions supporting applications to the Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program for specific areas
  • Change of scope and additional funds for design engineering services contract for Royalton Road project
  • Authorization of Mayfield Village’s participation in a benefits regionalization program
  • Five-year maintenance and support contract for automated fingerprint identification system
  • Four-year agreement with MetroHealth System for services at the County Corrections Center.
  • Additional funds for two organizations providing Staff for Secure Shelter Care Services
  • An ordinance establishing a post-secondary, small business internship

IV. Notes:

The Council will convene as a Committee of the Whole on Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. and on Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m.

The next regular Council meeting is Dec. 9 at 5:00 p.m.

There will be a special year-end meeting on Thursday, Dec. 18, with the time yet to be determined.

County Council, Nov. 12, 2014

November 30th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: November 12, 2014

Observers: Grennetta Taylor and Lynda Mayer

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I.  Introduction.  The meeting was called to order by Council President Connally at 5 p.m. with all Council members and County Executive FitzGerald present. Because yesterday was Veterans Day, the meeting took place on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

II.  Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment.  Ms. Connally congratulated winning candidates of last Tuesday’s elections.  During the meeting, she acknowledged County Executive-Elect Armond Budish and County Councilmember-elect Shontel Brown, who were both in attendance.  Mr. Budish addressed the council and indicated he has established a diverse Transition group.  He said his priorities included job growth, establishing a path from poverty, elevating the area as an economic powerhouse, and maintaining an open-door policy.

III. Business Transacted.

*  Two new resolutions were introduced by Council.  One would approve the MetroHealth System’s policies and procedures for participation in joint purchasing associations.  The second would determine which services and programs will be provided and funded from the Veterans Services Fund in 2014.

*  An ordinance establishing guidelines for the County Community Development Block Grant Fund Program, proposed by Council, was adopted on third reading.

* Another Council ordinance enacting the Cuyahoga County Appointment and Confirmation Act was likewise adopted. Councilman Miller commented that the ordinance will streamline the appointment process and make all information on nominees available to the committee.

* The Administration submitted nine new resolutions for referral to committee, some of which were the following:

—  The 2014/2015 Biennial Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program Update.  This will be reviewed twice by the Committee of the Whole before year-end adoption.

—  The MetroHealth System Year 2015 Budget, likewise referred to Committee of the Whole.

—  $1.5 million to Downtown Cleveland Alliance for a Streetscape Improvement Project in the Gateway and Warehouse Districts.

—  $4 million loan from the Casino Revenue Fund to Landmark-May, LLC for the benefit of the May Company Building Project.

—  A $3 million loan, also from the Casino Revenue Fund, to Gateway Huron, LLC for the Gateway Huron Project located at E. 4th Street downtown.

—  $1.5 million in 2015 Community Development Block Grant awards to various communities for projects.  These include projects in Parma Heights ($150k), Shaker Heights ($150k), Rocky River ($150k), Maple Heights ($149k), Olmsted Falls ($150k), Middleburg Heights ($150k), Newburgh Heights ($150k) and Seven Hills ($150k).

—  Almost $1 million in awards to various appraisers for Real Estate appraisal services for properties subject to Sheriff’s Sale.

—  $1.1 million for fiscal agent services regarding emergency food purchases for residents.

*  Several Administrative resolutions were adopted, including the following

—  A contract was amended for the lease of space by the Veterans Service Commission.  Councilman Jones commented the amendment will extend the current lease at a lower cost.  The Council President indicated that upon the expiration the county should consider another location with more accessible space.

—  A lease with an option to purchase the former Juvenile Court Complex will be signed.  Councilman Jones described the planned redevelopment of the site as a boarding school for at-risk youth.  This legislation will enable the developers to begin the quest to secure financing for the project.

— A $2.1 million contract was awarded for design-build services for the Emergency Operations Center Project in Broadview Heights.

—  $1.3 million was awarded to Pictometry International Corp. for GIS data, software, aerial photography and related services for the next four years.  Councilman Miller indicated these services will provide data that will enhance property valuation and zoning; and all communities will have access to the data.

IV.  Notes.  Next regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014.  Observers had the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of Council members.  Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell of the Greater Cleveland Urban League expressed interest in collaborating with the LWVGC on future voting-rights-related efforts.

County Council, Oct. 28, 2014

November 3rd, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: Oct. 28, 2014

Observer:  Lesley Hahn

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction

       President Connally called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. All council members were present, along with County Executive Edward FitzGerald. The meeting ended at 7:18 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

A Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the Regular Meeting listened to Jeffrey Applebaum give a progress report on the Global Center for Health Innovation (Med Mart) and the Inclusion Program involving the operation of the Downtown Cleveland Convention Center.

       Several people, including four local clergy,  spoke at the onset of the agenda in favor of the establishment of a Department of Sustainability to provide better living conditions in the city and to enable Cleveland to become a green city.  See disposition below.

Council President Connally presented to the C.E.O. of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center a proclamation to commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, noting that domestic violence is the No. 1 reason for police calls in the city of Cleveland and in most suburbs.

County Executive FitzGerald said that U.S. Secretary of H.U.D. Julién Castro was in Cleveland at the City Club today discussing early childhood education and recognizing how well the county has cooperated with the city of Cleveland.

III. Business Transacted

*  Two Resolutions of Council were adopted after second or third reading:

—  Appointment of Harriet Shaw Applegate to serve on the Port Authority Board of Directors;

—  Additional funds to hire two employment experts to improve applications and methods of hiring;

*  An ordinance establishing a Department of Sustainability was approved unanimously after third reading.  Several councilpersons commented favorably, its mission being to collaborate with other municipalities, establish plans, and assist in grant writing.  It was co-sponsored by 7 Democratic Councilpersons.  Councilwoman Simon reported that this ordinance received several hearings and the signatures of over 2,000 of supporters.  In addition, five other ordinances establishing administrative processes received committee referrals or second readings.

*  Several resolutions were introduced by County Executive FitzGerald and referred to committees, including these high ticket projects or bond issues:

—  c. $2 million for the design and construction of an Emergency Operations Center in Broadview Heights;

—  $10 million in tax revenue bonds for a pedestrian bridge between Mall C and the lakefront over the existing railroad tracks;

—  $35.8 million in tax revenue bonds for County Sewer District Improvement Bonds;

—  $168 million in tax revenue bonds for maintenance of seven different county-owned buildings, including the Justice Center;

—  $21 million in tax-exempt economic development bonds for the Medical Mart/Convention Center Project;

—  $24.5 million in economic development bonds from the Western Reserve fund for un-named projects.

*  Awards for group healthcare benefits were also introduced:  over $40 million to Caremark PCS Health,  $116 million to Medical Mutual of Ohio, and over $68 million to United Healthcare Services.

*  Several resolutions involving collaboration and regionalism were approved, with FitzGerald noting that, although we may not be able to effect merging of municipalities, we have seen real progress in assisting communities in outsourcing services to a larger entity at real cost savings:

—   An agreement with Oakwood village (the 35th community to sign up) for maintenance and repair of storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water lines;

—  Agreements with the Cities of Chardon (not in Cuyahoga County!) and Cleveland Heights (13 participants) for participation in the Cuyahoga County Benefits Regionalization Program.

*  A contract with Pay for Success of $5 million was adopted, for an intervention program for children in foster care and homeless families of children in foster care for the next five years. Councilman Miller stated that this program could save the county money as it helped to reunite families and reduced the time children spent in foster care.

*  A $50 million Demolition Fund was unanimously adopted, while eliciting a multitude of comments. This will fund the demolition of 5,000 blighted properties; however, it is estimated that $125 to $250 would eventually be needed, so four out of every five applications would be turned down. Councilman Shron’s  amendment to establish a new body, based on the model of the Clean Ohio fund, was rejected. Councilman Jones’ amendment was adopted to allow Council to establish a Property Demolition Oversight Committee to supervise the program as administered by the executive and the Land Bank. Interest-free loans would be extended to worthy applicants; after the loan was repaid the property owner would be entitled to receive a grant in the amount of one half the original value of the loan. The ordinance was adopted as amended.





County Council, Sept. 9, 2014

September 26th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: Sept. 9, 2014

Observer via Live Stream: Marcia Goldberg

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

President C. Ellen Connally called the meeting to order at 5 p.m. All other Council members were present. The meeting ended shortly before 6 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

There were no announcements by the Council President or messages from the County Executive. Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts, who regularly attends Council meetings and makes comments, did so today both about agenda items and other issues.

IV. Business Transacted

Passed unanimously on first reading under suspension of rules:

  • An amendment to the 2014-15 operating budget to add $2.8 million to help fund the pedestrian and bicycle bridge from the malls to the lakefront (see related legislation below).
  • A collective bargaining agreement between the county and one of the UAW locals representing nine court security officers in the Sheriff’s department for the period Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2015. Ms. Connally said the agreement was “consistent with other contracts” the county has signed with unions.

Passed unanimously on second reading under suspension of rules:

  • Payments of $30,233 each to Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University for scholarships for veterans residing in Cuyahoga County. Although the scholarship money does not amount to as much as was given last year, it would have gone back to the general fund if not used for these scholarships, which will go to veterans no longer eligible for the GI Bill. Mr. Schron said that he would like to see funding for a Fisher House at the VA Hospital here, too—Fisher Houses are residences for veterans and their families receiving treatment at VA hospitals.
  • Allowing the use of certain county facilities on a rent-free basis as set forth in the county’s service agreement with the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, which is hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.
  • An amendment to the county’s agreement made earlier this year selling the Loew’s Building to Playhouse Square Foundation to clarify that all county-owned properties associated with the building are transferred to the foundation.
  • The sale of county-owned property at 2500 East 79th St. to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for $125,000.
  • A 12-month extension to the county’s contract with Reserve Apartments for lease of office space in the building, at a cost of $257,100.
  • An award of $2.8 million to Parsons Brinkeroff for architectural and engineering design services for the pedestrian and bicycle bridge from the malls to the lakefront (see first bullet above).
  • Amendments to contracts with two providers for the operation of OhioMeansJobs, extending the contracts to June 30, 2015, and adding funds totaling more than $2.7 million.
  • An amendment to a contract with United Labor Agency for “employer services,” extending its contract to June 30, 2015, and adding $1.4 million in funding. This program bases job training on the needs of employers rather than on training without employer input.
  • An $860,000 contract with Starting Point for administration of the Universal Pre-K Program. Ms. Simon explained that pre-kindergarten education is not yet universal in the county—that the program is “aspirational.”

Passed unanimously on third reading:

  • An amendment to the county’s contract with Woods Cove III, as purchaser, and Lien Servicing, as servicer, for the sale of tax lien certificates. The contract’s not-to-exceed amount ($25 million) was removed and instead the contract’s life was extended to three years.
  • Creation of a list of certified providers for occupational skills training services for the Individual Training Account System (workforce development) for the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016. The list names 45 different approved providers.
  • The setting of a fee structure for dog adoptions at the county animal shelter. The ordinance gives the director of public works the flexibility to change fees under various circumstances, including overcrowding.

On second reading—and scheduled for a third reading on Sept. 23 were:

  • An ordinance amending copying costs for public records. It sets the price per paper page at 3 cents and $1 per gigabyte.
  • A resolution awarding $337,950 to MCPc, Inc., for wireless infrastructure analysis, hardware and installation services for the period June 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016.

Several other pieces of legislation were on first or second reading and referred to various committees. They included a resolution approving amendments to the NOACA code of regulations, an appropriations resolution, a resolution amending the lease agreement and operating agreement with the Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corp., a resolution authorizing a utility agreement with Highland Heights for maintenance and repair of sewer and water lines, and a resolution authorizing necessary tax levies.

County Council Meeting, July 7, 2014

July 18th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

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County Council, June 24, 2014

June 29th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting:  June 24, 2014

Observer: Marcia Goldberg

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

President C. Ellen Connally called the meeting to order at 5:04 p.m. All other Council members were present. The meeting ended just after 6 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

  • Ms. Connally thanked two longtime county employees who are retiring, David Reines and Joseph Gauntner.
  • County Executive’s Announcements: Mr. Fitzgerald also thanked the retiring employees and then told Council about a new jointly sponsored program to support small businesses. The county is providing $750,000 from its Western Reserve Fund (for economic development) to the program, which is also sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Urban League, and the two municipalities where businesses will initially be helped: Cleveland and Shaker Heights. The program is in its “pilot” phase now and will be reevaluated in two years. New or established small businesses accepted into the program must provide their own equity, develop business plans, and qualify for SBA-backed bank loans. Mr. Fitzgerald had attended a press conference about the program earlier in the day and said the undertaking has a “lot of potential and promise.”

III. Business Transacted

  • Seven resolutions, each related to a proposed charter amendment, were referred to the Committee of the Whole. The seven involve: residency requirements for elective offices; issues related to the sheriff’s office; the timeline of the appointment process and the commencement of the term of future Charter Review Commissions; establishing an Agency of Inspector General; establishing an Investment Advisory Committee; changing the composition of county boards and commissions to ensure independence of judgment; and removing party affiliation from elected county office. Mr. Greenspan said that these seven, plus another related to voting rights, would be discussed by the committee at meetings on Wednesday, July 2, 9 a.m.-noon; Monday, July 7, 1:30-5:30 p.m.; and Thursday, July 17, 1:30-5 p.m. The schedule is tight, he said, because the proposed amendments must have their third reading by the second Council meeting in August to make it onto the November ballot.
  • Delayed for two weeks was consideration of an ordinance amending the county code to establish a “more consistent approach to compensation” for county non-bargaining employees. The ordinance was prompted by Council’s displeasure with the fact that the courts—without giving notice to County Council or considering the county’s budget—gave their non-bargaining employees a 3 percent raise last year. But just before today’s meeting, Council members received a letter from four top county judges saying the proposed ordinance would be unconstitutional because of the separation of powers. Mr. Gallagher was livid, complaining that the judges knew about the proposed ordinance last October and not one of them ever showed up at a Council committee meeting where it was discussed or at one of the three Council meetings where the ordinance was read. And Mr. Miller said that the language of the ordinance had already been changed to make notice of any proposed raises a “request” rather than a requirement. But Ms. Connally urged delay to avoid antagonizing the judges, and Council went along. Mr. Gallagher said he would hold another committee meeting on Tuesday, July 8, at 1 p.m. but did not expect anyone from the courts to show up.
  • Passed on third reading were: 1) a resolution appointing Donald N. Jaffe and reappointing Berj A. Shakarian and Jerry L. Young to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Board. Ms. Connally said the board has funds available to remedy recent vandalism to the monument. 2) an ordinance establishing a policy for any requests for new programs that require an additional appropriation either during the budget process or during the year; the policy requires detailed information about unexpected requests because, Mr. Greenspan said, too many requests are being made without enough backup information. Ms. Simon voted against the ordinance, saying accountability could be required without legislation.
  • Passed on first reading under suspension of rules: 1) a mostly routine resolution amending the 2014-15 operating budget; it included $703,000 toward the purchase of Whiskey Island. 2) a resolution approving a “wage re-opener agreement” with the International Union of Operating Engineers; the agreement, which allows renegotiation of an ongoing union contract under certain conditions, is consistent with other agreements the county has with various unions. Ms. Simon voted no.
  • Passed unanimously on second reading under suspension of rules: 1) a routine and state-required resolution adopting the “annual tax budget.” 2) a resolution awarding KeyBank $962,829 for banking services; and 3) a resolution making awards totaling $832,000 to various providers of programs supporting the county’s Fatherhood Initiative—a program to help all fathers in the county and to strengthen their role in families.
  • Resolutions referred to committee following first reading: 1) increased funding for Playhouse Square streetscape improvements from $3.68 million to $4 million; 2) an award of $3 million to Terrace Construction Co. for sewer repairs; 3) an award of $240,000 to One Community for Internet service and fiber maintenance services for the period July 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2018; and 4) an award of about $3 million to various providers for Workforce Investment Act Youth Training for the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.
  • Ordinances referred to committee following first reading: 1) establishing a Social Impact Financing Fund to pay for contracts to improve outcomes and lower costs for contracted government services; Ms. Connally complained that she has listened carefully to explanations of this program and still couldn’t understand it; Mr. FitzGerald said at future committee meetings he would make sure the program was explained more clearly, but that it’s an innovative program that helps government agencies save money by using earlier intervention. 2) establishing procedures for setting the fee structure for sheriff’s department background checks; and 3) authorizing extension of the Capital Improvement Bed Tax shared with the City of Cleveland.