Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (August 5, 2023)

Aug 5, 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 regular agenda is relatively short. There is one public hearing on an ordinance amendment that lifts requirements for membership on the Transportation Commission. At first reading, Council will consider several items: a request for rezoning at State/White/Henry (“SouthTown by 4M”), an amendment to TC-1 zoning, and a new ordinance requiring Home Energy Audit disclosures when homes are sold. 

One item of note on the Consent Agenda: CA-15 will approve a list of Public Art Commission Capital Improvement Enhancements for FY24-FY29. Included on a long list of projects (e.g. Allmendinger Park, Gallup Park, downtown restrooms, roundabouts at Moore/Longshore/Pontiac Trail and Dhu Varren/Pontiac Trail) is the band shell at West Park. This explanation caught my attention:

MF-PR-24-04, West Park Band Shell: It is apparently unclear whether the project will be (significant) repairs, replacement, relocation, or demolition. If not just demolition, we recommend a preliminary enhancement budget of $20,000 (1%) be included in the $2,000,000 project budget. (FY2024-26).

The West Park bandshell was first constructed in 1938, by the Works Project Administration (WPA). Over the years, it has hosted many remarkable events and performances, including a Grateful Dead concert in 1967. It is listed on the Ann Arbor Register of Historic Places. You can read more about the West Park bandshell’s history here:

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 7, 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 (23-1326) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – August 7, 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 (23-1256) Nominations and Appointments for August 7, 2023
These appointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

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

MC-2 (23-1318) Resolution to Appoint a non-resident elector (7 Votes Required)
This appointment from the Mayor is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next 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

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 (23-1232) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the General Services Agreement with Kennedy Industries, Inc. for Pump Repair and Maintenance Services ($150,000.00; total contract amount $380,000.00)

CA-2 (23-1234) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the General Services Agreement with Utilities Instrumentation Service, Inc. for Utilities Instrumentation Services RFP No. 22-45 ($150,000.00 increase; total contract $900,000.00)

CA-3 (23-1073) Resolution to Approve a Sole Source Purchase Order to Hach Company for Turbidimeters and Controllers ($79,776.00)

CA-4 (23-1173) Resolution to Approve Extension No. 1 to the Contract with Strawser Construction, Inc. for Capital Preventative Maintenance for Fiscal Year 2024 ($1,550,000.00)

CA-5 (23-1170) Resolution to Approve Extension No. 1 to the Contract with P.K. Contracting, LLC for Pavement Marking Maintenance – FY2024 ($483,240.00)

CA-6 (23-1117) Resolution to Approve Professional Services Agreements with Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. in the amount of $750,000.00; Wade Trim Associates, Inc. in the amount of $750,000.00; Fishbeck in the amount of $500,000.00; and Spalding DeDecker Associates, Inc. in the amount of $500,000.00 for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services (RFP No.23-27)

CA-7 (23-1176) Resolution to Authorize a Sole Source Purchase Order to Yunex LLC for Transportation Materials, Supplies, and Products in the Amount of $555,000.00 Annually

CA-8 (23-1264) Resolution to Authorize a Purchase Order to Carrier & Gable, Inc. for Transportation Materials, Supplies, and Products in the Amount of $585,500.00 Annually

CA-9 (23-1204) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Fulmer Street (Miller to Foss) ($100,000.00)

CA-10 (23-1203) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of a Towable Woodchipper from Bandit Industries Inc. (MiDeal – NTE $129,970.00)

CA-11 (23-1190) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for the Rental of Street Sweepers from MacQueen Equipment Co. (MI Deal – NTE $103,740.00)

CA-12 (23-1167) Resolution to Approve a General Services Agreement with The Davey Tree Expert Company for Routine Street Tree Pruning & General Forestry Services ($516,410.00; RFP #23-30)

CA-13 (23-1094) Resolution to Purchase Cohesity Backup System and Support and Professional Services from CDW Government LLC ($383,823.47)

CA-14 (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)

This item was deleted from the agenda on August 4, 2023. See the Agenda Response Memo (dated August 3rd) for more information about this item.

CA-15 (23-1059) Resolution to Approve Public Art Enhancement Recommendations for Ann Arbor Public Art Commission Capital Improvements Enhancements for FY24-FY29

CA-16 (23-1210) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Ann Arbor SPARK for Economic Development Services ($80,000.00)

CA-17 (23-1261) Resolution Recognizing Apple Playschools as a Civic Nonprofit Organization Operating in Ann Arbor for the Purpose of Obtaining a Charitable Gaming License

CA-18 (23-1295) Resolution to Accept a Sidewalk Easement at 3002 and 3203 Chelsea Circle from Mill Creek Townhouses, LLC (8 Votes Required)

CA-19 (23-1296) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at 3002 and 3203 Chelsea Circle from Mill Creek Townhouses, LLC (8 Votes Required)

CA-20 (23-1265) Resolution to Approve Participation in the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Amaizin Pop LLC Property in Webster Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Legacy Land Conservancy, and Appropriate $75,000.00 (8 Votes Required)

CA-21 (23-1298) Resolution to Approve Street Closure of Washington Street between Fletcher and Thayer Streets for the University of Michigan Go Blue Mix on Saturday, September 2, 2023 from 3:00 PM until 1:00 AM on Sunday, September 3, 2023

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 (23-1175) An Ordinance to Amend Section 1:207 (Transportation Commission) of Chapter 8 of City Code (ORD-23-23)
An ordinance amendment will lift the requirement that one commissioner be the “owner or operator of a transportation business operating in the City of Ann Arbor.” The Transportation Commission was first established in 2016, when the Taxicab Board was disbanded. Since 2016, the Transportation Commission has included eleven members:

  • 6 members of the public
  • 1 owner or operator of a transportation business operating in Ann Arbor
  • 1 member of the Planning Commission
  • 1 member of the Commission on Disability Issues
  • 1 individual appointed by the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority
  • 1 member of City Council

After this amendment, seven members of the general public will serve on the Transportation Commission.

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 (23-1175is 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 (23-1161) 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, (1601 S. State Street – South Town Rezoning from R4C to C1A/R with Conditions) (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Ten parcels with addresses on South State Street (1601, 1605, 1607, 1609, 1611), Henry Street (714), and White Street (1606, 1608, 1610, 1612) will be rezoned from R4C (Multiple Family Residential) to C1A/R (Campus Business Residential) in order to permit the construction of a development (“SouthTown by 4M”) that includes 216 dwelling units with a 54 space parking garage.

Staff explains that the rezoning “increases the development of the block about three times over what is currently allowed.” The height limit for current zoning is 30 feet and the developer proposes zoning with the condition that height not exceed 100 feet. The maximum FAR (a calculation of permitted density) for C1A/R zoning is 300% and this development has requested a variance because it exceeds that maximum. Inclusive of the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 345%; excluding the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 308%.

The block proposed for rezoning and redevelopment/gentrification currently contains 49 housing units on 1.7 acres. There is one single family home at 714 Henry Street and the other nine properties are multi-family housing containing three to thirteen units each. The current R4C zoning prohibits these units from being used as dedicated full-time short term rentals. The zoning change to C1AR will allow the new housing units to be used as short-term rentals, consistent with the adjacent properties owned by the same developer.

Read about the 66-bed short-term rental development on Henry Street (owned by the same developer):

C-2 (23-1168) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.15, 5.16 and 5.17 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (TC1 Uses, Auto-related and TC1 Development Use Specific Standards, Transit Corridor Additional Standards)
Proposed amendments to the TC-1 zoning category address two potential uses:

  • Automobiles, Motorcycles, Recreational Vehicles, Equipment (Sales and Rental)
  • Automobile, Truck, Construction Equipment Repair

These amendments are in response to a City Council resolution (12/5/22 – Legistar) requesting that the Planning Commission “evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 Zoning District or Unified Development Code (UDC) that:

  • Incorporate limited automobile-related uses into the TC1 District, excluding drive throughs and gas stations
  • Address constraints of existing narrow rights of way”

In a memo (4/18/23 – Legistar), City Staff explained that these amendments do not offer “an evaluation or recommendation to address the constraints of existing narrow rights-of-way, or propose an amendment to the maximum building height limits. These issues will require more time and resources than consideration of permitted uses.”

In that memo, City staff recommended that these uses be permitted as a primary use:
“Staff recommend approval of the proposed amendment to allow automobile, motorcycle, recreation vehicle, equipment (sales and rental) in the TC1 district.”

They explained further:
“Given the existing form-based development standards of the TC1 district, incorporating vehicle sales and rental and vehicle repair uses will have minimal long-term impacts. Newly established vehicle sales, rental and repair uses are required to be in buildings of at least two stories, with an active street-level use, and easy for transit and nonmotorized-transportation users to access. As with any business in TC1, auto-related businesses would only be allowed limited areas on site for outdoor storage of vehicle inventory, or vehicles waiting for repair or pick-up.”

City Council will not consider this recommendation from City staff. Instead, Council considers the recommendation of five Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission, who propose that these categories be allowed only as “special exception use.” By City ordinance, all applications for a “special exception use” are ultimately accepted or rejected by the Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission.

The approval process for Special Exception Use is explained in the “Procedures Summary Table” in section 5.27 on page 170 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at the link below.

It is worth noting: six votes are required for the Planning Commission to act on plans, policy statements, granting of special exception uses, recommendations to City Council, and petitions. Due to three absences and one recusal, the 5-0 recommendation to approve these ordinance amendments was not actually approved by the Planning Commission. Minutes from the 4/18/23 Planning Commission meeting explain that “the motion as amended failed.”

Coincidentally, at their 7/18/23 meeting, the City Planning Commission considered Bylaw amendments that would lower the vote requirement to five. That and other proposed changes will be discussed at the August 15th meeting of the Planning Commission.

C-3 (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
A proposed 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).

In questions to the agenda, several Council Members relayed concerns from realtors and asked about how this ordinance might delay real estate transactions. The Office of Sustainability and Innovations (OSI) provided this response:

  • “OSI is dedicating Community Climate Action Millage dollars to hire a full-time home energy assessor to do free home energy assessments for residents. We expect this person to be hired in the coming weeks (the job is currently posted), so they’ll be ready by the time this ordinance would take effect.”
  • “OSI has been coordinating with local energy service providers to help meet any additional demand that may exceed the ability of the soon to be hired Energy Assessor. This includes meeting with firms that could be put under contract to offer additional help during high demand periods and working with those firms to hire additional capacity to ensure they are ready to support the program as needed. Furthermore, these firms have agreed to work with the City on additional workforce development (i.e. training additional assessors) to grow both the Ann Arbor as well as the region energy assessment labor field.”
  • “Additionally, apart from the HERD ordinance, OSI has a goal to get all homes in Ann Arbor scored using the Home Energy Score. This goal helps move us toward achieving A2ZERO, and as it relates to HERD, getting homes scored before they decide to sell means it’s not a non-issue come listing & sale.”

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 (23-1201) Resolution to Appoint Julius Buzzard to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (7 Votes Required)
This appointment is from CM Radina, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the nominee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor.

  • Julius Buzzard – Greenbelt Advisory Commission

DC-2 (23-1251) Resolution to Approve the Request from Kerrytown Concert House, Inc. for a New Club Liquor License to be Held in Conjunction with a Dance Permit and an Entertainment Permit, Located at 415 N. 4th Avenue, d/b/a Kerrytown Concert House
Kerrytown Concert House – a nonprofit arts venue – requests a New Club Liquor License, Dance Permit, and Entertainment Permit for use at 415 N. 4th Avenue. The Council Liquor License review committee approves the permits and there are no objections from any relevant City departments.

DC-3 (23-1328) Resolution to Analyze Ann Arbor’s Emergency Response During Severe Weather Events and Related Widespread Power Outages
This resolution would direct the City Administrator to provide an analysis of:

  • geographic patterns of weather-related power outages
  • emergency-related communication and coordination between the City, DTE, and community organizations
  • systems impacted by and City/community response to these events
  • the role of resilience hubs in these events

The City administrator is also directed to provide an inventory of community cooling/warming centers and an estimate of total emergency City costs related to power outages in February 2023, March 2023, and July 2023. The City Administrator is directed to provide this information and recommended actions for improvements by September 30, 2023.

DB-1 (23-1013) Resolution to Approve Revised Bylaws of the Transportation Commission
This approval is related to the ordinance change in B-1. Council would approve changes to the bylaws for the Transportation Commission.

Power Outages & Resilience Hubs

In July 2023, the City of Ann Arbor experienced an extended power outage that impacted thousands of residents. Learn about the City’s support for “resilience hubs” and where public money was spent.

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