October 14, 2021

The meeting of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission (County Planning) was called to order by Director Dever at 2:00 p.m.  and the roll call showed a quorum was present.

On a motion by Mayor Brennan, seconded by Mayor Byrne, the minutes for the August 12, 2021, meeting minutes were duly adopted by unanimous vote.

Discussion Item – Board Appointments/Terms of Office
Director Cierebiej discussed the upcoming elections that will potentially affect the County Planning Governing Board seats and representation, as well as terms that are expiring December 31, 2021. Several Planning Commission Board Members are running for re-election, including Mayor Dylan Brennan, Mayor Gammella, Mayor Procuk, and Councilwoman Brown is running for a Congressional seat. Ms. Cierebiej will be working with Director Dever, the County Executive’s office, and County Council to fill all the Planning Commission seats at the Organizational Meeting on February 10, 2022.

A Special Thank you was given to Mayor Byrne as he is retiring and will not be running for re-election to retire. Councilperson Simon, who was in County Council budget hearings, came in later to address Mayor Byrne’s service. When Councilperson Simon arrived, she thanked Mayor Byrne for his years of service and presented a proclamation from Councilperson Simon and Councilperson Brown in appreciation for everything contributed through the years. Mayor Byrne thanked everyone for the recognition.


Resolution No. 211014-A requesting the approval of Professional Development Policy.

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission asked to approve the addition of Section 5.21 to Section 5 – Employment with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, in the CCPC Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual, adopted on August 14, 2014 (Resolution No. 900814I). This section was brought before the County Law Department for review before this meeting. The current CCPC Personnel Policies & Procedures Manual did not contain a policy related to professional development. Resolution No. 211014-A is an amendment to Section 5 – Employment with the CCPC to create a new Section 5.21allowing for CCPC staff to strengthening their professional knowledge and expertise through professional memberships and continuing educational opportunities. Many of the planners are AICP certified and need 32 credits a year to stay current.  This is critical for County Planning’s future success and allows CCPC to budget for anticipated Professional Development expenses. Director Dever asked how the policy would impact the budget. Director Cierebiej answered that in the past there have been partial and inconsistent reimbursements to the staff because there was no official policy, and therefore no line item defined for professional development in previous budgets. Having a policy and understanding costs associated with memberships and annual professional development events will help us plan accordingly.

Mr. Seren found a grammatical error in the policy and asked if the policy allowed for any flexibility and practicality regarding timelines to request events. Director Cierebiej answered that there is flexibility but as a rule, time is usually needed to prepare the internal approval and cover the absence. Mr. Seren then asked if management requests staff to join a training would they be offered the same courtesy. Directory Cierebiej stated that the issue was not written into the policy, but the planning conferences are typically known ahead of time by the staff and understands that there may be some exceptions. It was agreed that the official policy did not require a revision to include that language.

Councilperson Simon briefly joined the meeting.

On a motion by Mayor Gammella, seconded by Director Dever, Resolution No. 211014-A requesting the approval of the Professional Development Policy edits as discussed at the meeting, was duly adopted by unanimous vote.

Mayor Sellers joined the meeting.

Director Cierebiej welcomed Ms. Meghan Chaney, AICP who joined the team as a Senior Planner, Ms. Laura Mendez Ortiz, AICP Candidate who joined the team as a Planner and a special addition of Ms. Michaela Stryker, Micah and his wife are enjoying their little baby girl.

Both Kevin Leeson and Jennifer Karaffa celebrated 25 years of employment with the Cuyahoga County Planning in September, 2021. A big thank you and congratulations to them!!

Continuing with the Kudos Corner, Director Cierebiej announced an early congratulations to the Solon Connects Project Team, winner of the 2021 APA Ohio Planning Award for comprehensive Plan for Small Jurisdiction (announcement Friday, October 15, 2021).

Congratulations also to Mayor Blackwell, the recipient of the 2021 APA Ohio Planning Award for the Norman Krumholz Equity Award (announcement Friday, October 15, 2021).

Director Cierebiej gave project updates:

  • Lakefront Public Access Plan Draft Final Report received, and the project is advancing.
  • Community Confluence Preliminary Engineering had a public meeting earlier in the week. This began as a TLCI project and it’s exciting to see projects move into implementation.
  • Broadview Hts. Master Plan was adopted by Council in September, 2021 and is ready for implementation.
  • Inter-Agency Agreement with Department of Development approved by Board of Control and held first internal project team meeting.
  • Transit-Oriented Development Study, in partnership with GCRTA in discussions and continuing with in-kind work.
  • Advancing projects with Brooklyn Hts., Garfield Hts., Maple Hts., Middleburg Hts., Rocky River; First Suburbs Consortium and several others with new work on the horizon.
  • 2022-2023 Workplan will dictate new projects and continued collaboration

Financial Report

Ms. Jennifer Karaffa gave a 2021 Budget overview:

2021 is Year 2 of Biennial Budget, and with the County’s new ERP system, County Planning is now considered a fully General Fund Agency. There is no longer a subsidy transfer of funds. This year, operating expenditures have been kept low and within the approved budget. The COVID pandemic is still having an impact on operations with things starting to pick up and engage with the public in traditional ways. Funding for staff was again funded at twenty (20) full-time employees with appropriation for three (3) unfilled positions, and under Director Cierebiej’s leadership, two (2) of those positions have been filled. Both positions were vetted with Personal Review Commission (PRC) and posted through County HR. County Planning now has a staff of nineteen (19) including funding for a full-time intern.

County Planning is administering two (2) County Executive big initiatives:

  • Lakefront Public Access Plan
  • Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grants

Several partnerships are in process with Executive Agencies both in-kind work or through inter-agency agreements. Outside entities are also being served as County Planning continues to provide planning, zoning, and other services under revenue generating contracts that are deposited back to the General Fund.

County Planning was originally appropriated with just over 2.8 million dollars in spending authority.  Throughout the year however, the operating budget was increased and amended to just over 3.6 million dollars.  This included federal CARES monies funding deposited to Salaries budget that helped offset the 40-hour furlough that the staff contributed to last year, as well as additional funding under Contract and Professional Services account.

Combined, salaries and benefits are still County Planning’s largest component of the expenditures budget, but the contracts account is the next largest appropriation in County Planning’s operating budget.  However, most of this appropriation is not operational but instead pass-through funding for grants or contracts that County Planning holds with outside vendors. The Contracts account includes the original new round of appropriation of 1 million dollars for Healthy Urban Tree Grant program, but also includes carry over balances from the Urban Tree Grants unspent from the previous year.  The Contracts account also includes pass-through dollars for contracts with outside vendors for the Lakefront Public Access Plan and the Community Confluence study. Combined only 40 thousand dollars are left for other operating expenses and supplies.

So far this year, County Planning has only spent about half of its total spending authority.  As of the end of third quarter, County Planning had only spent down 2/3rds of its operating budget on salaries and benefits appropriation which reflects vacancies that were funded and authorized but unfilled until recently. In terms of contracts, about seven hundred thousand dollars has been disbursed in grant and contract awards, which totals about 38% of the budget. To date, only about $90,000 in reimbursement requests have been issued under the Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grants program, which is a reimbursement grant program.  More plantings are expected this Fall, and so County Planning expects more reimbursement requests next quarter.  Ultimately however, any unspent encumbered contract dollars will roll over into 2022. County Planning is forecasting that all its Supplies budget and most of its Other Operating budget will be used by the end of the year. In total, County Planning expects to end the year under budget largely due to a salary’s surplus from open positions earlier in the year, but also from lower conference attendance, lower mileage expenses and fewer professional development opportunities this year.

County Planning has many active contracts and has been able to bring in Outside Revenue which is deposited into the County General Fund.  To date, County Planning has generated just over $157,800 in revenues, already surpassing the past couple of years of outside revenue collections. Ms. Karaffa noted that they are ramping up for Third Quarter billing, which is the final quarter for deposit this year.  Another $72,000.00 to $83,000.00 in revenue collections are estimated this calendar year.

It was reported that County Planning’s 2022-2023 operating budget has been significantly reduced. The base budget in inadequate and was based on payroll projections from Pay 12-2021 which ended June 5, 2021- before County Planning’s new hires started.  The majority of the cuts are in the form of personnel services, but requests for additional budget appropriation has also not been honored.  County Planning’s Budget Hearing is scheduled for November 4, 2021 and will ask that its operating budget be restored to maintain the current operations and perform essential tasks.

County Planning will continue to supplement its 2022/23 Operating Budget with outside revenue; the 2022-2023 workplan will dictate new projects and the continued collaboration. Director Cierebiej added that the budget cuts are concerning with the new staff onboarded and amount of planning work ahead. Director Cierebiej invited any Board members with questions to reach out and discuss the budget and finances.

Director Dever commented that all County Departments are faced with reduced budgets as part of the County Executive’s Recommended biennial budget and are navigating their way through Budget Hearings with County Council to restore their operating budgets.


The next meeting will be November 18th the third Thursday due to Veterans Day on November 11th.

Approvals Required at the next meeting include:

  • Contract with City of Middleburg Hts. – Zoning Map Update
  • Contract with City of Parma – Parking Analysis
  • Contract Modification with Public Works – Lakefront Public Access Plan, Prelim Eng.
  • Contract Modification with First Suburbs – Single Family Zoning, Phase 2
  • Solid Waste Policy Committee

No old business

No new business

No requests for public comment.

On a motion by Director Dever, seconded by Mayor Sellers, the meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.


October 14, 2021

Mayor Pamela BobstNo
Mayor Michael Dylan BrennanYes
Councilperson Shontel BrownYes, Mr. Kahlil Seren
Mayor Michael ByrneYes
Director Freddie CollierNo
Director Michael DeverYes
Mayor Anthony DiCiccoNo
Mayor Michael GammellaYes
Mayor Michael ProcukYes
Mayor Brad SellersYes
Councilperson Sunny SimonYes, Mr. Brenden Doyle