Cohn suggests big development on the horizon for Cleveland

By Vanesa Brashier,

Cleveland Mayor Otis Cohn is hinting that “another game-changer” is coming soon to Cleveland. In comments during the Nov. 19 Cleveland City Council meeting, Cohn said, “I cannot talk about it right now but it’s going to be huge for Cleveland and will put us on the map nationally.”

Cleveland must be ready for the growth that is projected over the next few years, so the City is hiring another full-time inspector to work in the Development Services Department with current inspector Jeremy Chesnutt.

Councilwoman Jennifer Bergman asked to address some concerns she has regarding Development Services. Bergman said she gets complaints from citizens on a regular basis about the cumbersome process of obtaining permits and inspections.

“We need to come up with a better manner of getting plans and all those things moving through the city. We need to, as a city, come up with a more comprehensive way to approve plans, set timelines and different things like that,” she said. “Based on what you just said, Otis, there is a lot of growth coming our way and we are nowhere ready to deal with it. It needs to be addressed immediately.”

Bergman called the problems with Development Services “the most pressing issue our city is facing right now.”

Other council members chimed in to agree with Bergman that there are problems that need to be addressed.

“At the end of the day, we have to hit a home run with this. Growth is coming to Cleveland. This is our chance,” said Councilman Danny Lee. “Cleveland is growing, and we have to hit this one out of the ballpark. We can’t squander this opportunity.”

City Manager Kelly McDonald offered to take a closer look at the processes within the department to see if streamlining or simplifying would help.

“Right now when plans come into Development Services, they take seven days to two weeks for those to be reviewed based on the amount of work involved,” she said.

Once the new building inspector has joined the city, the workflow should be easier and more manageable, she said.

“That will lighten the load and spread the work around,” McDonald said.

New police officers and a new full-time firefighter have joined the City, and a new deputy city secretary – Jennifer Jeude – has been promoted from within. Police Chief Darrel Broussard said the three officers were sworn in Monday morning and are recent law enforcement academy graduates.

Council approved $84,000 in funding for repaving the north side of Manthey Street between City Glass and the future location of Austin Bank. The request to repave the road was made by the owner of City Glass at a prior meeting. He told Council then that the poor road surface was a deterrent to business. The Council rejected the request at the time; however, Cleveland EDC, which operates with its own budget and board, approved funding the project.  

“The EDC chose to go forward with funding the project because of the number of jobs that were impacted by the street,” McDonald said.

With the EDC backing the project, Council agreed to approve it with the stipulation that if paving exceeds $84,000, then the businesses that benefit will pay the overages.

A final plat for Grand Oaks Reserve Section Five was approved by Council. McDonald said this plat is for a 31-acre section that includes 24 lots in the master-planned community.

Two road closures were approved by Council. Ken Johnson, representing First Baptist Church of Cleveland, asked Council to close S. Cleveland St., between W. Houston and W. Hanson, on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in order to make foot traffic from the church’s old sanctuary – which will soon be torn down – to the gym, where services are being held until the church rebuilds. The other street closure is for a Black History Parade on Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The parade route will start at The Sanctuary Church and end at Samuel Wiley Park.

Council designated Mike Penry as its representative to the Liberty County Central Appraisal District Board of Directors, Carl White to the Montgomery County Central Appraisal District Board of Directors and Susan Bailes to the San Jacinto County Central Appraisal District Board of Directors.

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