Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (April 16, 2023)

Apr 16, 2023 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

Welcome to my Ann Arbor City Council newsletter, where you can connect with primary sources to understand the work of your local government. My goal is to provide clear explanations of all the issues your elected representatives will be discussing at their next meeting and alert you to local policy and decisions that have been assigned to unelected Mayoral appointees.

This week, Council considers a very short regular agenda, which includes first reading of increases to water and stormwater rates, and a public hearing and final approval for the rezoning of 415 W. Washington (unanimously approved at first reading). On the consent agenda, Council will re-consider a 20-year lease for the City’s airport, rescinding lease terms approved five months ago in order to substitute a different lessee. I’ve written more about that below in my “Additional Thoughts” section. 
The meeting will also include a presentation of the FY24 City budget by City Administrator Milton Dohoney.


The City Clerk’s office is preparing to implement nine days of early voting in the 2024 election cycle. Residents can participate in a survey to help the City learn how voters prefer to cast their ballots and their general awareness of the new early voting option. The survey is open through Monday, May 22, 2023.

Earth Day – Public Power!

Join the campaign for a municipal power utility to replace DTE – Ann Arbor for Public Power is hosting an Earth Day celebration on April 22 from 5-8 pm. For more information, visit

Ann Arbor Public Power Earth Day April 22 2023

Budget Presentations

This year, City Council approved a calendar that did not include any work sessions for Council members and the public to hear from City Staff and ask questions about the annual City budget allocations. Instead, City staff has prepared YouTube videos that Council members can choose to watch at their convenience. Some of these videos have already been released:

Also note that at this week’s Council meeting (April 17th) the City Administrator will present his proposed FY24 budget. A document/presentation will be attached to this Legistar item on this week’s agenda (as of the publication of this newsletter, the budget has not yet been posted).

INT-3 (23-0399) City Administrator’s Presentation of Proposed FY24-25 Budget

The FY24 budget will be adopted (along with any Council approved amendments) at the May 15th Council meeting.

In Case You Missed It…

On my YouTube channel, you can find recordings of public meetings that are open to attend live (online or in-person) but are not made available by the City to view later. Please reach out if you have suggestions about public meetings that should be recorded. Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you would like to be alerted to new content as it gets added.

Council Administration Committee: April 11, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee. Video was not made available.

This meeting featured a presentation by Deputy City Administrator John Fournier about the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport. The presentation materials displayed during the meeting were not made available on Legistar. The committee discussed many details about the future of the Ann Arbor airport: lengthening and shifting of runways, increased traffic concerns, potential expansion, and what would happen if the City ceded control of the airport to the FAA/MDOT.

333 E William (Core Spaces) Public Engagement Meeting: April 10, 2023

This is my Zoom recording of a public engagement meeting held on April 10, 2023. The meeting was led by Core Spaces and Bonner Advisory Group for a proposed 16 story residential building at 333 E William on the Ann Arbor Credit Union site.

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda

Below is my summary of issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, you can email all of Council at

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday April 17, 2023 7:00PM
Ann Arbor City Hall (2nd Floor)
301 E Huron St, Ann Arbor 48104

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda, and instructions for dialing into the meeting) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:

City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99) and online at
Meetings are also streamed live on the CTN YouTube channel:

How to reserve public comment

People that wish to comment at a City Council meeting must sign up with the City Clerk’s office in advance. Speakers are allotted 3 minutes, with the first 15 speakers allowed to speak in a 45 minute session near the beginning of the meeting. Remaining speakers will speak at the end of the Council meeting. Public comment can be made either in person or remotely via phone/Zoom audio.

To sign up for public comment, please go to or call the City Clerk’s Office at 734-794-6140 on the day of the meeting between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. At 1:00 PM, all speakers that have signed up are randomly ordered in “priority groups”. After 1:00 PM, speaking times are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. No new speakers will be added to the list after 5:00 PM. For more information, visit the City Clerk’s webpage about electronic meetings, section “City Council Public Commentary Time”

Questions to the Agenda

In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.

AC-3 (23-0667) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – April 17, 2023
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

Communications from the Mayor

MC-1 (23-0565) Appointments – Confirmations
This mayoral nomination was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Dr. Elisabeth Gerber – Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority

Consent Agenda

Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote.

CA-1 (23-0595) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2023 Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s “Top of the Park” – June 4, 2023 through June 28, 2023

CA-2 (23-0594) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for Sonic Lunch – June 29, 2023 and July 17, 2023

CA-3 (23-0602) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the ALLIANCE (National Training Institute) Opening Ceremony Dinner – Sunday, July 30, 2023 from 6:00 AM to Midnight

CA-4 (23-0552) Resolution to Change the Date for the Mayor’s Autumnal Green Fair to Friday, September 22, 2023 from 3:00 PM until 11:00 PM

CA-5 (23-0606) Resolution to Approve a Budget Amendment for Continued Professional Services Provided by Carlisle Wortman, LLC, Under Their Existing Contract and to Amend the FY23 Budget and Appropriate Necessary Funds of $100,000 (8 Votes Required)

CA-6 (23-0482) Resolution to Appropriate $205,000.00 from the Alternative Transportation Fund Balance to the Pedestrian Improvements portion of the Allen Creek Berm Opening Project (8 Votes Required)

CA-7 (23-0484) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Material Testing Consultants, Inc. ($275,000.00); Mannik and Smith Group, Inc. ($275,000.00); and Tetra Tech, Inc. ($100,000.00) for Geotechnical and Environmental Services

CA-8 (23-0523) Resolution to Approve a Two (2) Year General Services Contract for Right-of-Way Mowing and Landscaping Services with Lansing Real Green Lawn Care, Inc, ITB-4727 ($109,765.00 annually; $219,530.00 for two years)

CA-9 (23-0550) Resolution to Rescind Resolution R-22-374 for a Lease Agreement with Great Lakes Air Repair d/b/a Beacon Aviation and to Approve a Lease Agreement between the City and Herron Aviation Group LLC for a Corporate Hangar Located at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (8 Votes Required)

CA-10 (23-0524) Resolution to Accept a Grant of Easement for Watermain from Williamsburg Properties 76, LLC at 500 E. Eisenhower Parkway (8 Votes Required)

CA-11 (23-0582) Resolution to Accept an Easement for Public Right-of-Way at 660 Earhart Road from the Toll Northeast V Corp. (8 Votes Required)

CA-12 (23-0556) Resolution to Approve Amendment Number 3 to the Agreement with Monaghan, P.C. for Legal Services Relative to City Projects Requiring the Acquisition of Easements or Other Property Interests

CA-13 (23-0551) Resolution to Approve the Ninth Amendment to Professional Services Agreement with Bodman, PLC, for Legal Services Relative to 1,4-Dioxane from Gelman Sciences, Inc., dba Pall Life Sciences ($150,000.00)

CA-14 (23-0597) Resolution to Authorize a Professional Services Agreement with Interface Studio LLC for Comprehensive Plan Services (RFP #22-73) ($699,110.00)

Public Hearings

Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.

PH-1/B-1 (23-0277) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 2.5 Acres from PL (Public Land) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), 415 West Washington PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 415 West Washington (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-23-10)
The parcel at 415 W Washington will be rezoned from Public Land (PL) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) to facilitate the development of residential and mixed uses as permitted in the D2 zoning district including residential, commercial and office uses. The PUD will require a minimum of 15 designated affordable housing units or 15% of the total units or a contribution in lieu of units, whichever number is greater. The PUD will also require 60% open space amenities such as the extension of the Treeline Trail, benches, and ambient lighting.

Jerry Hancock, the City’s Stormwater and Floodplain Programs Coordinator, responded to this plan in a memo dated February 6, 2023. His memo includes this statement:

“The current proposal to rezone the land from PL to PUD, sell the property, develop it more intensely than the existing condition, and to facilitate a large residential structure is inconsistent with the established floodplain mitigation policies of the City. As such the proposed rezoning would not meet the review standard of the UDC, Section 5.29.11.F.4 4 unless adequate justification is provided for departing from the policy direction the City has taken for floodplain mitigation.”

Council unanimously approved this rezoning (at First Reading) on March 20, 2023. You can watch highlights of that discussion here:
A2Council Update video for March 20, 2023 (timestamp 8m21s)

Ordinances – Second Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.

B-1 (23-0277) is the same as PH-1 above.

Ordinances – First Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for “first reading”. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting (“second reading”), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.

C-1 (23-0532) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Water rates will be increased. City staff estimate that the average residential customer will see an increase of 6% and share this historical chart of recent changes:

Water rate increases (April 2023)

C-2 (23-0534) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Stormwater rates will be increased. City staff estimate that the average residential customer will see an increase 4% and share this historical chart of recent changes:

Stormwater rate increases (April 2023)

Motions and Resolutions

The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked “DC” are proposed by Council members, items marked “DB” are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked “DS” are proposed by City staff.

DC-1 (23-0621) Resolution to Approve Amendments to the Council Rules
Proposed amendments to Council Rules will allow agenda items on the same property, facts, or issue to be sequenced together for consideration. Council will also be permitted more flexibility to postpone agenda items to the next meeting, to any future meeting, or relative to a specific event or occurrence.

Additional Thoughts

I also published this on my website:

Ann Arbor Airport Lease: “A More Directed Approach”

The April 17, 2023 Council agenda illustrates just how much transparency is lost when City decisions happen outside of public process. Item CA-9 is an amendment to a 20 year lease agreement (with option to renew for 10 years) for building maintenance and management of services at the Ann Arbor airport.

CA-9 (23-0550) Resolution to Rescind Resolution R-22-374 for a Lease Agreement with Great Lakes Air Repair d/b/a Beacon Aviation and to Approve a Lease Agreement between the City and Herron Aviation Group LLC for a Corporate Hangar Located at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (8 Votes Required)

On November 21, 2022 (the very first meeting for five new members), City Council unanimously approved a resolution to award the airport lease to a business partnership led by two entities: Great Lakes Aviation Repair and Herron Aviation Group (doing business as “Beacon Aviation”). This week, Council considers rescinding that resolution to amend the leasing terms and remove one of those partners. As amended, the lease would be awarded to “Herron Aviation Group,” alone.


Many City decisions begin with the issuance of an RFP, or “Request for Proposals.” This is a transparent, public process that can be found online through the City’s website:

Information about RFP’s issued across the state of Michigan are also published here:

The RFP process publicizes both the City’s needs (the actual “request”) and the list of who submitted proposals to meet those needs (“bid tab”). Prior to a final decision by Council, anyone can look at the results of a City RFP and see the list of entities offering proposals.

In 2019, the City began a process to identify the best entity to manage services and improve facilities at the Ann Arbor airport. That process included an RFP and described a primary objective:

The City of Ann Arbor is seeking qualified firms or individuals to redevelop the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) building located at 719 Airport Drive at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (ARB) in Ann Arbor, MI.

The 2019 RFP prompted three proposals:

  • Aer Powers (preferred but withdrawn)
  • Aviation Center & Wyatt Property Management
  • Solo Aviation

In 2020, the preferred proposer could not move forward, which led to another RFP in 2021. The 2021 RFP was updated to include this language:

The City is open to another FBO operation in the building, but not solely focused on that use. Redevelopment of the facility with a primary aeronautical use that benefits the users of the airport and the City is the key objective.

The 2021 RFP also prompted three proposals:

  • Whisper Aviation (preferred but withdrawn)
  • Solo Aviation
  • Ace Aircraft LLC

Meeting minutes of the Airport Advisory Commission confirm that for both RFPs, a subcommittee reviewed proposals, conducted interviews, and recommended a “preferred proposer” to move forward for “due diligence.” The subcommittee’s recommendations were ultimately voted on by the whole of the Airport Advisory Committee. In both 2019 and 2021, the “preferred proposer” withdrew before anything could be sent to City Council for final approval.


In 2022, the process of awarding this airport lease changed significantly. As explained in a memo from 11/21/22:

“At that point, the Airport was approached by three different parties who were interested in the building after the withdrawal of Whisper Aviation. After consultation with the City’s purchasing manager, it was determined that an additional RFP was not needed since the City was not purchasing anything through the process. The lease for Aviation Center has no cost to the City, therefore it is not a traditional contract that requires bidding. The two previous RFPs were issued for transparency and to attract the best possible deal for the city. When they failed, a more directed approach became the City’s best strategy for finding a quality tenant.”

What had begun as a public, transparent process of consideration through an RFP turned into something very different. The 11/21/22 memo explains that “the city proceeded with a third bidding period with pre-selected bidders to reach a final contract award after two public bidding processes failed” (emphasis added).

Minutes from 2022 meetings of the Airport Advisory Committee (AAC) describe discussion among the subcommittee, actions from the Airport Manager (who “reached out to other parties”), and review of a proposal from KARB Ventures that was submitted by Brian Herron and Dale Foerschler. On 5/18/22, the AAC approved a subcommittee recommendation to move the KARB Ventures proposal forward to the due diligence phase. At their 7/20/22 meeting, the AAC approved sending a recommendation to the whole of City Council to approve a 30 year lease with Great Lakes Air Repair d/b/a Beacon Aviation (formerly KARB Ventures).

It is worth noting that the Airport Advisory Committee meetings happen via Zoom. Meeting minutes are the only public record of what is discussed; recordings of these Zoom meetings are not posted anywhere.


The Airport Advisory Committee includes City Council liaisons; current liaisons are Chris Watson and Erica Briggs. In 2022, when the RFP process was abandoned and Beacon Aviation recommended, the only liaison to the Airport Advisory Committee was Council Member Briggs. At the 11/21/22 Council meeting, Briggs explained the airport lease:

The lease that’s in front of us tonight with Great Lakes Air Repair is one that would result in two hundred thousand dollars of improvements made to the site as well as this provider has strong experience as a fixed-base operator. They would be offering the current services as well as new services is my understanding. I know questions have been raised around the paint shop and it’s my understanding that the paint shop operations would actually be occurring in Mason not here locally.

At their 11/21/22 meeting, City Council unanimously approved awarding a 20-year lease to Great Lakes Air Repair (doing business as Beacon Aviation) to be the “Fixed Base Operator” of the Ann Arbor City Airport. A staff memo explained the credentials of Beacon Aviation:

“Beacon Aviation is owned by Dale Foerschler and Brian Herron and is a full service FBO. They will be increasing the services available to the local aviation community by adding avionics, aircraft painting and upholstery repairs in addition to the traditional FBO services. Mr. Foerschler is currently operating a successful FBO (Great Lakes Air Ventures) in Mason Michigan. Brian Herron is a longtime airport tenant, local businessman and the owner of the Herron Aviation Group which handles aircraft sales.”

The qualifications referenced by Briggs and staff can be found in materials attached to the agenda, listing “Key Personnel”:

Dale Foerschler

Retired military officer with 33 years experience in leadership and management. Owner of Great Lakes Air Ventures, a part 61 and 141 flight school in Mason Michigan, last year assisted 65 pilots attain their first license or upgrade to the next level of pilot experience. Owner of Great Lakes Air Repair last year completed over 30 Annuals, 13 avionics upgrades, painted 8 planes and installed 6 plane interiors.

Brian Herron

Local entrepreneur and instrument/multi pilot, learned to fly at Ann Arbor and keeps an airplane at KARB. Owner of Herron Aviation Group — Michigan License Aircraft Dealer, Herron Farms — local vineyard, and Herron Holdings Group — Michigan Licensed Automotive dealer. President of Opus IVS, an Ann Arbor high tech business adjacent to the airport that has grown from 2 people to over 400. Real-estate development experience and former licensed Michigan builder

This week, agenda item CA-9 will amend the lease in order to award it to Brian Herron, alone, leading “Herron Aviation Group.” A new lease agreement will no longer include Great Lakes Air Repair. Council members submitted one question on the topic of this lease. Staff response acknowledges the value of the partnership approved in November 2022, explaining that Herron Aviation Group must now find a new partner to provide FBO services:

Herron Aviation Group will be partnering with a new FBO service provider to provide these services to users of the Ann Arbor Airport. Once the lease is in place, Herron Aviation Group will begin making renovations to the dilapidated building before beginning service. After building renovation, initial service will include the traditional “full FBO services” of repairs, maintenance, fueling and pilot support. Other services including flight instruction, avionics and body/interior repair services will be spooled up as staffing, licensing, equipment, and facilities are addressed. It is Herron Aviation Group’s intention to offer the full line of services as originally proposed to the City.


The agreement approved in November 2022 was not the result of an open and transparent RFP process. Instead, City staff pursued a substitute process (“more directed approach”) that did not include the open invitation for proposals, timeline for receipt of questions, or scheduled interviews that had occurred under a formal RFP process. However, the decision and subsequent recommendation was, at least, approved by the Airport Advisory Committee after review and discussion in a subcommittee.

Agenda item CA-9 is a significant change to leasing terms that were previously considered and reviewed by the Airport Advisory Committee (AAC). According to Legistar, the AAC has met twice since November, with two Council liaisons in attendance: Chris Watson and Erica Briggs. The minutes for AAC meetings on 1/18/23 and 3/15/23 include no discussion of the lease amendment on this week’s agenda. Approval of this change would award a 20 year lease – including an option for 10 year renewal, and right of first refusal to develop vacant land immediately to the west of the airport building – without any meaningful consideration or review by the AAC or its relevant subcommittee.

At the links below, you can watch highlights of what happened at the 11/21/22 City Council meeting, when leasing terms for the Ann Arbor Airport were first discussed and approved:

I look forward to seeing Council discuss this amended lease.


Last week, the Council Administration Committee discussed many details about the future of the Ann Arbor airport: lengthening and shifting of runways, increased traffic concerns, potential expansion, and what would happen if the City ceded control of the airport to the FAA/MDOT. Meetings of this committee are open to the public (audio only) but not recorded by the City. I recorded the meeting and posted it on my YouTube channel:

Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!
Elizabeth Nelson