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, the City Council agenda includes final approval (second reading) for two re-zonings: PUD at 530 N. Division and a Historic District at 1201 Gardner. Amendments to stormwater management systems requirements will also be considered at second reading. At first reading, Council will consider amendments to City ordinances – Non-discrimination (C-2) and tax exemptions for affordable housing projects (C-3) – as well as rezoning (R4A) at Dhu Varren/Pontiac Trail.
Agenda item DC-1 is a resolution postponed from the last meeting regarding needed improvements to the E. Medical Center Drive Bridge. At that January 23rd meeting, City Council set aside a $9.6 million construction contract and substituted the resolution in DC-1, which directs a re-design and delays repair for another year. You can see some of that Council discussion (with context and background) at the link below:
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 6, 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 (23-0184) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – February 6, 2023
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
- No Council members asked questions to the agenda for this meeting
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (23-0181) Nominations and Appointments for February 6, 2023
These mayoral nominations are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Brooks Curtis – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- Diane Heidt – Local Officers Compensation Commission
MC-2 (23-0180) Resolution to Appoint William Connolly and Maya Curtis as Non-resident Electors (7 Votes Required)
These mayoral nominations are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next 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
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 (23-0139) Resolution to Close Washington Street between Fletcher and Thayer for the University of Michigan Presidential Inauguration Public Reception from 6:00 AM on Monday, March 6 until 8:00 PM on Wednesday, March 8, 2023
CA-2 (22-2073) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the University of Michigan Big House 5K on Sunday, April 16, 2023
CA-3 (23-0140) Resolution to Close Streets for the Time to Teal 5K and Fun Run to Benefit the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MIOCA) on Sunday, May 14, 2023
CA-4 (22-2139) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Doan Construction Co. for the Sanitary Manhole Raising Project ($1,479,493.00)
CA-5 (22-2135) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate a HUD Grant, Approve a Program Contract with HUD, and Approve a Subrecipient Agreement with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission ($3,000,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (22-2150) Resolution to Adopt the Board of Review Guidelines for Poverty Exemptions from Property Taxation of Principal Residence Pursuant to MCL 211.7u
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 (22-1993) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.22.2 and 5.22.3, of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Storm Water Management Systems) (ORD-23-02)
Amendments to the UDC will eliminate current exceptions and revise standards for alternative stormwater detention to allow more staff flexibility when site constraints make it infeasible to meet the full detention volume requirement. An exception for developments that do not increase total impervious surface has been eliminated; all site plans for developments over one acre in size must address the “First Flush” (first inch of runoff). Impervious areas related to ADA improvements, public sidewalk improvements, and existing areas on Historic structures are no longer exempted from stormwater management requirements. Requirements will not apply to sites less than one acre in size where there is no increase in impervious area. Amendments reorganize standards and requirements for stormwater management.
PH-2/B-2 (22-2094) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 103 (Historic Preservation) of Title VIII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor by Adding Section 8:425.15 Establishing the Robert and Erma Hayden House Historic District, 1201 Gardner Avenue (Robert and Erma Hayden House Study Committee Recommendation: Approval – 3 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-23-03)
The Robert and Erma Hayden House at 1201 Gardner Avenue will be established as a historic district. I’ve previously written more about this home (and the Haydens): https://a2elnel.com/post/robert-hayden-ward-4-people-places-you-should-know-may-14-2022
PH-3/B-3 (22-1958) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.19 Acres from R4C (Multiple-Family Dwelling District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), 530 N. Division Street Zoning and Supplemental Regulations (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-23-01)
A property at 530 N. Division will be rezoned from R4C (Multiple Family Dwelling District) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). As zoned R4C, the 0.19 acre parcel is permitted to have three units but it is currently nonconforming and contains four units. The rezoning to PUD will permit a three story addition on the rear of the quad-plex, each containing a six bedroom unit plus a below grade unit.
PH-4/DB-1 (22-2500) Resolution to Approve 530 N. Division St. PUD Site Plan (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A site plan for 530 N. Division will permit a three story addition on the rear of the quad-plex, each containing a six bedroom unit plus a below grade unit. See item PH-3/B-3 (rezoning to PUD).
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 (22-1993) is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (22-2094) is the same as PH-2 above.
B-3 (22-1958) is 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 (23-0039) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 67.6 Acres from TWP (Township District) and R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District) to R4A (Multiple-Family Dwelling District), 1680 Dhu Varren Road, 1710 Dhu Varren Road, 2670 Pontiac Trail, 2672 Pontiac Trail, 2678 Pontiac Trail, and 2682 Pontiac Trail (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Multiple parcels adding up to 67.6 acres at 1680 Dhu Varren Road, 1710 Dhu Varren Road, 2670 Pontiac Trail, 2672 Pontiac Trail, 2678 Pontiac Trail, and 2682 Pontiac Trail will be rezoned from Township (TWP) and R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District) to R4A (Multiple-Family Dwelling District) as part of The Village of Ann Arbor development site plan. Planned use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses, and comprehensive land use plan.
C-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
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.
C-3 (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
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:
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.
DB-1 (22-2500) is the same as PH-4 above.
DS-1 (22-1996) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 23-02 – An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Storm Water Management Systems) of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
With Council approval, the Stormwater Management Systems ordinance amendments will be summarized to spare expense while satisfying publication requirements. See PH-1/B-1.
DC-1 (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 January 23rd agenda in substitution for a $9.6 million construction contract that would have rehabilitated and widened the E. Medical Center Drive Bridge in the 2023 construction session. City Council voted to postpone. On this agenda, staff recommend further postponement to the February 21st meeting.
DC-2 (23-0120) Resolution to Recommend Approval of Issuance of a Downtown Development District Liquor License to Liberty Drinks, LLC
A Downtown Development District Liquor License will be issued to Liberty Drinks, LLC for use at 118 W. Liberty. The license will permit the sale of beer, wine and liquor (consistent with the MLCC terminology “Class C” license) at a family restaurant, without specific retraction for hours of operation. Approval is recommended by the Council Liquor License Review Committee.
DC-3 (23-0138) Resolution to Revise and Amend List of Approved Participating Establishments in the Main Street Social District
This resolution would amend the list of businesses eligible for inclusion in the Main Street Social District. That social district permits the sale and consumption of alcohol in outdoor dining spaces and allows patrons to move freely within the district while consuming. All eligible businesses must apply to Michigan Liquor Control Commission to participate. The Council Liquor License review Committee recommends approval for all 45 establishments listed. That list can be found here:
DC-4 (23-0171) Resolution Recognizing Temple Beth Emeth as a Civic Nonprofit Organization Operating in Ann Arbor for the Purpose of Obtaining a Charitable Gaming License
City Council would officially recognize Temple Beth Emeth as a local civic nonprofit for the purpose of obtaining a charitable gaming license from the Michigan Charitable gaming Division. A silent auction will be held on March 4-5, 2023, at 2309 Packard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
Our community has seen a number of tragedies in the last few weeks, one of which is directly relevant to the work of City Council. At the end of January, MLive reported a death from a fall at the Ann-Ashley parking structure.
The need for safety barriers at these parking structures was acknowledged by City Council in 2017 and again in 2022.
The City’s parking structures are operated and managed by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). On September 18, 2017, City Council unanimously approved a resolution asking the DDA to take action in response to a string of tragedies that had occurred at City parking structures. From that resolution:
RESOLVED, That City Council urges the DDA to place the highest priority on providing physical barriers on parking structures, starting with the levels highest above the ground, including temporary barriers if permanent structures are delayed for any reason; and
RESOLVED, That if the current year’s DDA budget does not permit immediate action, the City Council requests that the City Administrator to discuss with the DDA alternate sources of funding.
On October 3, 2022 – after yet another tragic fall from a parking structure – I brought a resolution to City Council again asking the DDA to take action. From that resolution:
RESOLVED, That City Council strongly urges the DDA to act on an emergency basis, to identify available barriers that are far less able to be circumvented, and to install barriers at any parking deck levels from which a suicide attempt could result in death or serious injury, with special attention to structures from which suicides and attempts have occurred.
My resolution was prompted by advocacy from a Ward 2 resident, Peter Eckstein, who offered this public comment at the October 3, 2022 Council meeting:
“Five years ago, I spoke here to support an urgent resolution on the need to erect barriers on the middle and upper floors of City parking structures to check an ongoing epidemic of suicides.
DDA had not treated this with sufficient urgency. I suggested inexpensive chain link fencing as a stop gap measure. The resolution urged DDA to place the highest priority on providing such temporary barriers if permanent structures are delayed for any reason. This is an example of a more permanent structure that was adopted in the city of Grand Rapids, which is quite a progressive City in this respect. The resolution passed unanimously and DDA agreed.
Within several weeks, installation of chain-link fencing began at the most dangerous spots, but before it could even begin there was yet another suicide from a structure. The man had had an argument with his wife, gotten drunk and jumped, both curable situations. Once installed. however, the rooftop fencing proved effective for several years, but DDA did not adequately secure enough of the windows at another structure and two and a half years ago a student jumped to his death.
To this day, DDA has not added any barriers to the windows on the floor from which he jumped, nor has it installed any permanent barriers on rooftops. Covering windows with well-attached chain linking makes them relatively secure, but on rooftops there was always the danger that someone might breach or climb a chain-link fence.
That danger was realized six days ago, when another troubled person jumped. The flaw that enabled that tragedy still has not – at least as of two days ago – even been patched over.
So please pass the parking structure resolution before you, but also, please ask Mr. Dohoney to find competent safety inspectors to supervise the immediate filling of the two known gaps, to survey all the City-owned structures for weaknesses, and to recommend both temporary and permanent barriers. Our parking structure, should never again be available as platforms for death.”
In five years, neither the City nor the DDA have acted to address this problem, despite public action acknowledging that the matter is urgent. The 2017 Council resolution identified the problem, and recognized potential funding challenges. The 2022 Council resolution was a reminder that the problem had not yet been resolved.
Solutions are readily available but will require funding.
On February 1, 2023 the DDA met and received the results of an audit for the fiscal year ending in June 2022. That audit revealed that the DDA has unrestricted assets of $25,672,928.
You can review the financial audit of the DDA (starting on page 48) here:
Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!