Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (August 19, 2023)

Aug 19, 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’s City Council meeting includes three public hearings: rezoning of annexed properties (Victoria Circle, Bird Rd., Newport Rd.), a new ordinance requiring home energy audits, and amendments to a brownfield plan that increases tax abatement for a developer. The rest of the agenda includes first reading of an ordinance amendment extending permissible hours for marijuana dispensaries, rezoning at Ann Arbor-Saline Road, and a resolution calling for a state ban on flavored tobacco.

There is an item worth noticing on this week’s Consent Agenda.

CA-9 (23-1127) Resolution to Sell 350 S. Fifth to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
A resolution directing that $6,200,000 be transferred from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to the City’s General Fund, to purchase the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth (the “Y Lot”). The City paid $5.2 million for this property in 2018. Staff confirmed that approximately $5 million is needed to relieve debt attached to it and the additional funds (~$1 million) from the Housing Commission would be used for “other initiatives.”

Link to Council Agenda Response Memo (7/13/23)

In August 2018, the City issued $5.35 million of Limited Tax General Obligation Capital Improvement Bonds to purchase 350 S Fifth Avenue. These bonds have a 16 year repayment schedule ending in 2034. Debt service is paid out of the City’s General Fund; payments on 350 S. Fifth currently cost the General Fund $547,000 per year. The DDA is paying one third of this debt service for FY2023 and FY2024.

The purchase in CA-9 will transfer funds previously designated for affordable housing – $1 million in ARPA funds and $5.2 million in revenue from the Affordable Housing Millage – back into the City’s General Fund. Staff this week explained “The City’s debt must be relieved.”

Link to Council Agenda Response Memo (8/17/23):

For more on this topic, see my “Additional Thoughts” section below.

Police Chief Update

This past week (Monday), the City hosted a meet and greet for finalist candidates to be the new police chief. Council also held a special meeting (Tuesday) to interview those candidates. The City posted information about the candidates here:

You can watch the interviews here:

MLive published a story about the candidates:

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 August 21, 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 4:00 PM, all speakers that have signed up are randomly ordered in “priority groups”. After 4:00 PM, speakers are added to the end of the applicable priority group in the order received. 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-1 (23-1389) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – August 21, 2023
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

Communications from Council

CC-1 (23-1391) Resolution to Appoint Neal Elyakin, Janet Haynes, and Rodrick Green to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
These appointments are from CM Ghazi Edwin (who serves on the Human Rights Commission), CM Harrison (who serves on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission) and CM Song (who serves on both the Human Rights Commission and Independent Community Police Oversight Commission). This is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. Seven votes will be required, because according to the resolution, “Janet Haynes and Rodrick Green are not registered electors of the City of Ann Arbor”.

  • Neal Elyakin – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
  • Rodrick Green – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
  • Janet Haynes – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission

Communications from the Mayor

MC-1 (23-1256) Appointments – Confirmations
These appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Mark Hanss – Energy Commission
  • Julie Weatherbee – Planning Commission
  • Sadira Clark – Zoning Board of Appeals

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 (23-1313) Resolution to Approve Street Closure of North University between Thayer and Fletcher for the University of Michigan Center for Campus Involvement’s Festifall Event on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 from 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM

CA-2 (23-1340) Resolution to Approve a Street Closure of Washington Street between Fletcher and Thayer Streets for the Eli Lilly Mobile Research Unit on Thursday, September 7, 2023

CA-3 (23-1345) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the UM Show Your Love A2 Party on Sunday, September 10, 2023 from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM

CA-4 (23-1339) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the Neutral Zone 25th Anniversary Event – Saturday, October 7, 2023

CA-5 (23-1200) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner to Evaluate and Identify Opportunities for Stormwater Improvements in the Swift Run Creek Drainage District (Total Estimated Cost: $250,000.00)

CA-6 (23-1301) Resolution to Approve the Interlocal Agreement Between City of Dearborn and City of Ann Arbor for Fire Vehicles

CA-7 (23-1306) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of Two Toro Groundsmaster 7210 Mowers and Accessories from Spartan Distributors Inc. (Omnia Partners – $129,865.84)

CA-8 (23-1342) Resolution to Approve the City’s Participation in the Settlement of the National Prescription Opiate Litigation Against Walgreens

CA-9 (23-1127) Resolution to Sell 350 S. Fifth to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

I wrote about this in my “Additional Thoughts” section below

CA-10 (23-1346) Resolution to Accept an Award from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity in the amount of $652,453 for the Ann Arbor Climate Corps AmeriCorps program and Appropriate Funding in the amount of $652,453 (8 Votes Required)

CA-11 (23-1347) Resolution to Authorize the Sustaining Ann Arbor Together Grant Program (SA2T) to Support Community Stakeholders with Advancing A2ZERO and the Community’s Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2030

CA-12 (23-1233) Resolution to Approve a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for Central at Stadium Blvd – 2060 West Stadium

CA-13 (23-1136) Resolution Approving an Agreement for I.T. Services between Oakland County and the City of Ann Arbor for Continued Participation in CLEMIS for Five Years FY24 – FY28 and Appropriate Funding ($527,900.00) (8 Votes Required)

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 (23-0973) An Ordinance to Amend the Zoning Map, Being a Part of Section 5.10.2 of Chapter 55 of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor, Zoning of 11 City-Initiated, Annexed Parcels On Newport Road, Bird Road, and Victoria Circle from TWP (Township) to R1D (Single-Family Dwelling District) (CPC Recommendation: Approval 5 Yeas and 2 Nays) (ORD-23-22)
Eleven annexed parcels will be added to the zoning map of the City of Ann Arbor. The parcels are located on Newport Road, Bird Road, and Victoria Circle and will be rezoned from TWP (Township) to R1D (Single-Family Dwelling district). City staff recommended R1A zoning, but Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission recommend R1D. The R1D zoning is distinct from the surrounding R1A zoning but will allow increased opportunity for the properties to be divided for additional housing.

The distinction between R1A and R1D is explained in the Unified Development Code: “Application of the R1D and R1E district may require a greater degree of services than the less dense Single-Family Zoning Districts. To assure health, safety and welfare, any future R1D and R1E zoning areas should be contingent upon the availability or provision of adequate public services to serve the higher densities permitted by that district, in addition to other pertinent planning considerations.”

The minimum lot size for R1A is 20,000 sq. ft; the minimum lot size for R1D is 5,000 sq. ft.
The minimum front setback for R1A is 40 feet; the minimum front setback for R1D is 25 feet.

A chart with these and other differences between the two zoning districts (e.g. setbacks, lot width, etc) can be found in section 5.17.3 on page 80 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at the link below.

PH-2/B-2 (23-1293) An Ordinance to Add Chapter 106 (Home Energy Rating Disclosure) to Title VIII (Building Regulations) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-23-26)
A new ordinance will require sellers of certain residential housing units to disclose a “Home Energy Audit” prior to sale. Requirements do not apply to multi-story/multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, mobile homes, or commercial buildings. Sellers will provide a Home Energy Score Report completed by a Home Energy Assessor (certified by the US Department of Energy). Included in an audit will be estimates of annual and monthly energy use and cost by fuel type, as well as comparative Home energy scores for similar dwellings. These seller disclosure requirements may be waived at the “sole discretion” of the Director of the Sustainability and Innovations department (Dr. Missy Stults).

The Office of Sustainability and Innovations (OSI) has explained “plans to hire a full-time home energy assessor to do free home energy assessments for residents” and that other firms “could be put under contract to offer additional help during high demand periods and [they are] working with those firms to hire additional capacity” with the “goal to get all homes in Ann Arbor scored using the Home Energy Score.”

This week, OSI staff offer a substitute ordinance with a few changes:

  • “Listing Service” is now defined in the ordinance as the database tool used by realtors
  • Home Energy Score must be disclosed in “at least one” rather than all Real Estate Listings
  • Disclosure requirements that refer to “Real Estate Listing” and “Public Listing” no longer include a sign display
  • Noncompliance is determined at time of sale
  • Fines for noncompliance no longer compound daily

PH-3/DB-1 (23-1315) Resolution to Approve the Amended 303 North Fifth and 312-314 Detroit Redevelopment Brownfield Plan
The developer of parcels at 303 North Fifth and 312-314 Detroit Street has requested an increase in Brownfield tax abatement that was previously awarded. A five-story building (14 residential units) is currently under construction at the intersection of Catherine Street and North Fifth Avenue, south of the Kerrytown Market. On July 5, 2022, the project was approved to receive $2,674,011 in Brownfield funds in reimbursement for environmental activities, excavating and cleaning up contaminated soils.

The proposed amendment requests a $624,984 (23%) increase in brownfield reimbursements due to “unexpected site conditions” that have generated more labor and equipment costs in order to drive pilings around the perimeter of the site. The most recent staff report explains that “The developer has demonstrated that the amendment is necessary to allow a reasonable return on investment.”

If approved, the amendment will approve a new total of $3,298,995 in brownfield tax abatement for redevelopment of the property.

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 (23-0973is the same as PH-1 above
B-2 (23-1293is the same as PH-2 above

New Business – Boards and Commissions

DB-1 (23-1315is the same as PH-3 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 (23-1160) An Ordinance to Amend the Zoning Map, Being a Part of Section 5.10.2 of Chapter 55 of Title V of The Code of The City of Ann Arbor, (2670 & 2690 Ann Arbor-Saline Road – Rezoning from R1C Single-Family Dwelling District to O Office District) (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Two parcels at 2670 and 2690 Ann Arbor-Saline Road are proposed to be rezoned from Single-Family Dwelling district (R1C) to Office District (O). The house at 2670 was previously a rental home and is currently an office. The house at 2690 is currently nonconforming in its use as a personal storage unit. 

This rezoning will permit both parcels to be used as Non-principal Residence Short-term Rentals. See Permitted Use table on page 37 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at the link below.

C-2 (23-1319) An Ordinance to Amend Section 7:602, Sections 7:604 to 7:606, Section 7:608 and Section 7:613 of Chapter 96 (Medical Marijuana Facilities and Marijuana Establishments) of Title VII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This ordinance amendment will create a new class of “micro-business” under city regulation of Marijuana facilities. Currently, one category of micro-business is defined as a facility cultivating up to 150 plants and processing/packaging/selling them to individuals over the age of 21. The amendment will establish a second category of micro-business (“Class A”) that allows a facility to cultivate up to 300 plants, package marijuana, purchase marijuana concentrate or infused products from a processor, and sell them to individuals over the age of 21. The new Class A micro business will not be permitted to process marijuana.

The amendment also includes an expansion of allowable hours of operation. Currently, marijuana facilities may not operate after 9 p.m. of before 7 a.m. The amendment will permit operation until to 12 a.m. (midnight).

City staff response to agenda questions explains that “there has been interest among marijuana business owners to allow extended hours of operation.” Additional staff explanation this week refers to “discussions among Council Members.”

Factors that were considered include discussions among Council Members regarding the disparity between the closing hours of establishments in which liquor can be purchased or consumed (2:00 am) and marijuana dispensaries and consumption establishments (9:00 pm).”

Currently, no Council Members are named as sponsors of this amendment. Staff explain further:

AAPD had concerns about a potential 2:00 am closing time because of the amount of cash kept at dispensaries. AAPD recommended allowing marijuana establishments to remain open until 12:00 am for a trial period to see if there might be an uptick in crime during the extended hours, and to allow a later closing time if there are no issues with the 12:00 am closing time.”

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 (23-1318) Resolution to Appoint Vanesa Jackson to the Human Rights Commission as a Non-Resident Elector (7 Votes Required)
This appointment from the Mayor was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the the “appointee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor”. 

  • Vanesa Jackson – Human Rights Commission

DC-2 (23-1210) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Ann Arbor SPARK for Economic Development Services ($80,000.00)
An $80,000 contract with SPARK for “economic development services” will fund their work attracting new business to Ann Arbor. From staff explanation: “The deliverables are the attraction and retention of companies that add or maintain taxable value and add or retain jobs.” Ann Arbor SPARK will provide business support services for the period of July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024. This contract was postponed from the 8/7/23 Council Agenda.

DC-3 (23-1375) Resolution Urging the Michigan Legislature to End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products, Including Menthol Products, and Repeal Local Preemption of Tobacco Licensure and Sales Policies in the State of Michigan
By resolution, City Council would urge the Michigan Legislature to outlaw flavored tobacco products and repeal current laws that restrict local units of government from regulating the sale and licensure of tobacco products for distribution.

DC-4 (23-1390) Resolution for Community Events Fund Disbursements from the FY 2024 BudgetThis resolution approves disbursement of the FY24 Community Event Fund budget of $94,000.00 to the following entities:

  • $5500 Ann Arbor Jaycees (2 events)
  • $12,125 Ann Arbor Art Fair (2 events)
  • $1,000 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
  • $11,125 State Street Association
  • $11,125 Guild of Artists & Artisans
  • $1,000 A2 Ole Skool Family Productions
  • $2,000 Jim Toy Community Center
  • $125 Veterans for Peace
  • $6,000 Leslie Science & Nature Center & AA Hands On Museum (3 events)
  • $2,000 Standing Tough Against Rape Society
  • $2,000 Michigan Cultural Events Committee
  • $3,000 Main Street Area Association (2 events)
  • $35,000 Ann Arbor Summer Festival
  • $2,000 NAACP Ann Arbor Branch

Additional Thoughts

This week, City Council will consider CA-9, an agreement to sell the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission for $6.2 million. Some have called this agreement a “financial shell game” – it will transfer $6.2 million from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission back into the City’s General Fund, where it can be used for other purposes. These funds come from Affordable Housing Millage revenue and ARPA allocations, previously designated for use in developing affordable housing.

CA-9 (23-1127) Resolution to Sell 350 S. Fifth to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

I made a video this week, illustrating recent money transfers related to affordable housing funds. Below are links to primary sources cited in my video:


The 2018 Debt Service Agreement for 350 S. Fifth describes annual payments of $547,000 that are currently paid out of the General Fund; these payments continue through 2034. A 2022 agreement with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) obligates the DDA pay one third of debt service payments on 350 S. Fifth for FY2023 and FY2024.

4/1/19 Resolution directing analysis of City-owned properties for the development of affordable housing. The property at 350 S. Fifth is included in this resolution, which explains that “Redevelopment of City-owned properties to provide building sites for affordable housing units can significantly lower the cost of these developments.”

11/18/19 Presentation from Jennifer Hall, director of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, regarding the feasibility of developing affordable housing on City-owned properties. Her presentation explains that the supply of affordable housing cannot be increased by acquisition or new construction without public financial support to reduce the cost. She recommends “reduced-cost or no-cost land” as one form of financial support.

4/20/20 Consultant assessment of 350 S. Fifth including proposed financial arrangements.


In November 2020, City residents approved an Affordable Housing Millage to fund the development of affordable housing in Ann Arbor. 

4/4/22 City Council approved $3.5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the purpose of “property acquisition for affordable housing.”

5/15/23 City Council approved two budget amendments, allocating $900,000 in Marijuana Excise Tax revenue to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission.


In just the last two months, millions of dollars have been transferred to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. Additionally, City Council has directed the City Administrator to evaluate how the Ann Arbor Housing Commission might borrow money through revenue bonds.

6/5/23 Resolution asking the City Administrator to evaluate the use of revenue bonds for the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, to be used for “more immediate financing for affordable housing units and/or acquiring additional parcels.”

6/20/23 Grant agreement transferring the proceeds from the Affordable Housing Millage – $6.3 million to $7.2 million per year – to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission

7/6/23 Grant agreement transferring 40% of the proceeds from the Mental Health & Public Safety Millage – $880,000 to $1,134,000 per year – to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission.

7/6/23 Grant agreement transferring all Marijuana Excise Tax revenue – $1,375,000 – to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission.


3/20/23 City Council spent ARPA funds ($3.5 million) to purchase Siller Terrace, paying its owner the full appraised value for the property so that it can be managed by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission as affordable housing.

In November 2022, the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth was appraised at a value of $6.2 million.

On this week’s agenda, CA-9 proposes that the Ann Arbor Housing Commission pay the full appraised value – $6.2 million – in order to buy 350 S. Fifth from the City. These funds would return to the General Fund, where they can be used for purposes other than affordable housing.


3/20/23 City Council voted unanimously to transfer the City-owned property at 121 E. Catherine to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission for $1. That resolution explains that “a fair market value appraisal for this transfer is unnecessary because the property shall be used for the public purpose of providing affordable housing and other public uses, and shall be restricted to these uses by the AAHDC.”

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