City upholds sign restrictions despite opposition

By Melissa Martin

March 15 city council meeting

Brecksville officials said they will continue to support newly adopted sign legislation despite recent challenges to the ordinance that surfaced during the Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School wrestling team’s pursuit of a state title.

Mayor Jerry Hruby said the new law, which prohibits installation of temporary signs on city property, was challenged in March after members of the high school athletic boosters placed signs supporting the wrestlers’ trip to Columbus on public square.

The signs, Hruby said, were up for a day or two before they were brought to his attention and removed by the service department.

Though community members pushed for changes to the law on social media, through phone calls and emails, Hruby said the city will continue to enforce the ordinance.

Brecksville Law Director David Matty explained that council’s legislation committee vetted the sign legislation for six months before its adoption last fall.

“If someone wanted to come forward, they had every opportunity to do that. … This [was] not something that [was] rushed through,” Matty said.

Matty said council was required to take an “all-or-nothing” approach to temporary signs, which means that all temporary signs, regardless of content, are prohibited on city property.

“We can’t pick and choose by content,” he said. “We can’t say signs for school sports teams are permitted and decide not to honor a similar request from another organization that has a message we might not want on [the city’s] property.”

Hruby said he referred individuals in charge of placing signs to the owners of businesses along Route 82, who allowed signs supporting the athletes to be placed on their property throughout their state-championship run.

He reminded the community that residents and business owners retain the right to post non-commercial opinion signs on private property as long as the placement of the signs complies with the size and location guidelines specified in the city’s sign code regulations.

Residential assessments

City council unanimously passed a resolution declaring it necessary to improve certain lands in the city through the installation of an 8-inch sanitary sewer and 6-inch laterals along Chippewa and Calvin Drive as part of an upcoming sewer project.

The bulk of the $5.4 million project, scheduled to begin in May and wrap up in October, will be paid through grants, loans, city tax dollars and other funding secured by the city. The remaining $1,087,500 to complete the project will be paid by the 75 residents whose properties are affected.

The city sent certified letters notifying those residents, who each will be assessed approximately $14,500 for the improvements to be paid over 20 years as part of their city tax bills. Residents have two weeks from the time they receive the notice to contest the assessment, City Engineer Gerald Wise said. Objections will be ruled upon by an equalization board formed by the city. Once the objections are resolved, council is expected to seek bids for the project.

As part of the project, a new sanitary sewer will be installed, and separate connections for all residents along the line will be installed. Owners then can tie into the line and abandon their existing septic systems, Wise said.

The project will also upgrade the 1935-era storm sewer. The existing 12-inch sewer pipe, which has collapsed in many locations, will be expanded to a 30-inch pipe at county expense.

Recreation improvements

City council voted unanimously in favor of accepting grant funding from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. According to Recreation Director Rachel Engle, grant funding is available to the city annually, and the city plans to use its allocation to increase the number of adaptive programs and services at the community center. Among the items being considered, she said, are in-water wheelchairs and renovations that will make Kids Quarters more ADA compliant.

Engle said the city also will explore ways to create more adaptive programming for youths and adults with special needs, including additional recreational therapy and sports and wellness programs.

Engle said the city will apply for funding through the AARP Community Challenge Grant. She said that if the city is awarded funding, it plans to use the money to improve the community center’s bocce courts late this summer or in early fall.

In addition to installing scoreboards, she said the city is considering the installation of updated flooring, new support structures and concrete borders. Engle said the project has been accounted for in her department’s five-year plan at a cost of $45,000.

The city also plans to submit three applications for funding as part of the Ohio Capital Budget through the Ohio General Assembly. Those applications call for funds that would be used to install an ADA ramp in Kids Quarters at the community center, the construction of a salt storage bin at the city’s south end and the purchase of recreation equipment for the new fieldhouse, which opens later this year.

Council also:

  • Approved resolutions allowing the mayor to enter into an agreement with Tom English to be youth baseball and softball league director for 2022. A similar agreement was approved for Gregory Thacker to become community youth soccer director for 2022 and with Margaret English as the Brecksville Travel Baseball Association president and liaison to the recreation department for 2022.
  • Approved the purchase of two mobile vehicle lifts for the service department for $20,261.
  • Approved a $12,800 payment to Excel K-9 Service Inc. for a police service dog, including training and certification.
  • Approved the $8,302 purchase of a new walk-in cooler for the human services department. ∞