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 meeting is happening on Tuesday, due to the Presidents’ Day holiday. Council considers another very short agenda, including the twice-postponed resolution to re-start planning and design of improvements to the E. Medical Center Drive Bridge.
For more on the multi-year planning process for reconstruction of this bridge, see:
To understand the significance of re-starting this process and delaying the project a full year, start watching at timestamp 2:42 in my A2Council Update summary video of the January 23, 2023 Council meeting:
Electrification (“Gas Ban”) Updates
Also this week: the City Planning Commission cancelled a working session that would have discussed ordinance changes requiring electrification in new construction. As reported by MLive:
The meeting was expected to be an informational session ahead of a potential Planning Commission vote March 7 on a city staff proposal to ban gas starting this year for all new buildings and substantially renovated or expanded buildings.
The topic of electrification was also discussed at the last Council meeting, when a re-zoning of 67.6 acres at Pontiac Trail and Dhu Varren was unanimously approved at first reading. That re-zoning will lead to the construction of 320 gas-fueled apartments as part of “The Village.” You can watch an excerpt of Council defending the decision at timestamp 6:32 in my A2Council Update summary video of the Feb 6th meeting:
As MLive reported about that Council meeting:
Having gas heat for hundreds of new apartments conflicts with a key strategy of the city’s A2Zero plan, which states all new residential and commercial buildings should be designed and built to operate without natural gas, avoiding the increased cost of having to later retrofit them. The city’s plan also calls for having all new buildings designed to net-zero energy standards.
In Case You Missed It…
On my YouTube channel, you can find recordings of public meetings that are open to attend live or in-person but are not made available by the City to view later. This week, I uploaded two meetings (one recorded via Zoom, one recorded in person) which you can watch at the links below.
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.
3874 Research Park Drive (Sartorius) Public Engagement Meeting of February 15, 2023
Portage Capital Partners propose a 112,000 square foot building addition to be used for research/development and warehouse space. Additional parking spaces are also proposed.
Briarwood Mall (Sears) Public Engagement Meeting of February 16, 2023
Simon Property Group and Hines propose the demolition of the existing Sears building in order to accommodate a new grocery store, a 2-level retail building, an approximate 4 level multi-family residential building and an outlot building.
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 CityCouncil@a2gov.org
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday February 18, 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 a2gov.org/watchCTN
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-1 (23-0285) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – February 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 (23-0267) Resolution to Appoint Brooks Curtis to the Environmental Commission
This nomination is from CM Akmon and CM Disch, who serve on the Environmental Commission. This nomination is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Brooks Curtis – Environmental Commission
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (23-0181) Appointments – Confirmations
These mayoral nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Brooks Curtis – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- Diane Heidt – Local Officers Compensation Commission
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. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.
CA-1 (23-0236) Resolution to Approve the Closing of Monroe and Tappan Streets for the Annual Monroe Street Fair, Saturday, April 1, 2023
CA-2 (23-0228) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2023 Take Back the Night/Standing Tough Against Rape (Rally and March) – Wednesday, April 5, 2023
CA-3 (23-0224) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run on Sunday, June 4, 2023
CA-4 (23-0123) Resolution to Approve Change Order 3 with Gerace Construction Company, Inc. for the 2022 Bandemer Park Bridge Repairs and Renovations Project (RFP 22-18, $86,035.00 Increase) (8 Votes Required)
CA-5 (23-0110) Resolution to Approve the Agreement with the Regents of the University of Michigan for Water Treatment Plant Pilot Plant Operational Assistance and Research ($450,000.00).
CA-6 (23-0142) Resolution to Authorize a Best Source Purchase Order for Removal of Residuals to Prolime Corporation (Not to Exceed $270,000.00)
CA-7 (23-0116) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 2 to the Professional Services Agreement with Tetra Tech of Michigan, PC, for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($200,000.00 increase, total contract $1,250,000.00)
CA-8 (23-0115) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 3 to the Professional Services Agreement with Fishbeck for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($475,000.00 increase, total contract $1,725,000.00)
CA-9 (22-2014) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 4 to extend the Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc., for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($600,000.00 increase, total contract $2,500,000.00)
CA-10 (23-0111) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of One All Electric Bucket Truck and One Electric Hybrid Bucket Truck from Terex Utilities Inc. and to Appropriate $228,300.00 in Funding from the Major Streets Fund Balance (Sourcewell – $871,274.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-11 (23-0126) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of an Elgin Street Sweeper from Bell Equipment Company (MIDeal – $283,146.60)
CA-12 (23-0107) Resolution to Approve a 2021 American Rescue Plan Act Agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for Reimbursing Eligible Airport Operating Expenses at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport ($59,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-13 (23-0155) Resolution to Approve the Board of Insurance Administration’s Recommendations for 2023 Insurance Renewals effective March 1st, 2023
CA-14 (23-0226) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with Dawn, Inc., d/b/a Dawn Farm, to Provide Drug Abuse Counseling and Rehabilitative Services to Sobriety Court, Veterans Treatment Court, and Mental Health Court Participants ($99,415.00)
CA-15 (23-0188) Resolution to Authorize the Disbursement of $300,000 to Elevate Energy for its Administration and Distribution of Grants as Part of the Low-Income Sustainability Grant Program
CA-16 (23-0154) Resolution to Approve a Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Energy for Creating an Ann Arbor Sustainable Energy Utility and Launching Microgrids in Three Areas of the City
CA-17 (23-0176) Resolution to Approve Amendment Number 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. for Consulting and Expert Witness Services Relative to Platt Convenience, Inc. v City of Ann Arbor ($75,000.00 amendment; $150,000.00 total contract)
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 (22-1968) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 19 (Tax Exemptions for Housing Projects) of Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-23-06)
An Ordinance amendment would repeal and replace the whole of Chapter 19 (Tax Exemptions for Housing Projects). This Chapter allows property tax exemption for certain low-income housing projects, also known as a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). Currently, the chapter allows tax exemptions for affordable housing projects aimed at 60% Average Median Income (AMI). The new Chapter will allow tax exemption for housing projects aimed at 80% AMI. A chart with incomes and housing costs for various AMI can be found here:
PH-2/B-2 (23-0166) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination), Sections 9:150, 9:151, 9:155; and 9:156 of Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-23-05)
The City’s Non-Discrimination ordinance prohibits discrimination based on a number of identities/circumstances such as actual or perceived age, arrest record, color, disability, educational association, ethnicity, etc. The ordinance would be amended to add use of a “government issued ID card” to this list. A government-issued ID card is defined in the ordinance: one that may be issued by a federal, state or local government, specifically Washtenaw County. The ordinance prohibits discrimination against someone for use of such cards, except where there is “reasonable grounds” for determining it is counterfeit/improper or where federal/state law or court order requires different identification.
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 (22-1968) is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (23-0166) is the same as PH-2 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.
There are no ordinance first readings on the Agenda.
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 (23-0180) Resolution to Appoint William Connolly and Maya Curtis as Non-resident Electors (7 Votes Required)
These mayoral nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the appointees are not registered electors of the City of Ann Arbor.
- William Connolly – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- Maya Curtis – Board of Review Panel II
DC-2 (22-1932) Resolution to Commence a Collaborative Planning Process between the University of Michigan and the City of Ann Arbor for the Rehabilitation, Widening, and Non-motorized Transportation Enhancement of the East Medical Center Bridge
A resolution directing a new beginning of collaboration with the University of Michigan for reconstruction of the E. Medical Center Drive Bridge at an added cost of $2,050,000. The City’s contribution will be $500,000. Construction will be delayed to 2024.
This resolution was added to the 1/23/23 agenda in substitution for a construction contract that would have rehabilitated and widened the E. Medical Center Drive Bridge in the 2023 construction session. City Council voted to postpone to the 2/6 meeting and at that meeting staff recommended further postponement to this meeting (2/21).
DC-3 (23-0300) Resolution in Support of Common-Sense Gun Safety Laws to Reduce Gun Violence and Gun Deaths in Michigan
A resolution directs the City’s lobbyist to monitor, advocate for, and support common-sense gun safety legislation, including but not limited to, safe storage laws, universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, protection for domestic violence survivors, and restoration of local control over firearms on public property. Note: the possession of weapons or firearms in public places is governed by State law.
DS-1 (22-1987) Resolution to Approve a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for Union at A2 – 2050 Commerce Drive
By resolution, Council will approve a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the Annex Group, which plans to acquire and develop 2050 Commerce Drive with 250 affordable homes, with an average household income at or below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Their eligibility is dependent on approval of the ordinance change in B-1, which extends tax exemptions to include housing projects for persons and families earning up to 80% of Area Median Income with a project average of 60% of Area Median Income. The housing project will be exempted from all ad valorem property taxes and shall pay an annual service charge in lieu of taxes equal to one dollar ($1.00) for each eligible housing unit in the housing project.
Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!