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.
Last Friday (1/5/24), Ann Arbor City Council held a brief special session to vote on one item: an amendment to the calendar, rescheduling this week’s regular Monday meeting to Thursday, January 11, 2024.
This week’s meeting is a fairly short agenda. Highlights include:
- Resolution calling for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza in Israel (DC-1)
- Amendment to the Nondiscrimination Ordinance, addressing employment practices of City contractors (C-1)
- Transfer of a City-owned property to the City’s Housing commission for $1 (DC-3)
- Resolution directing the creation of an apparel “Procurement Advisory Group” (DC-2)
Also this week: the City released more documents and communications in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about a proposed Sports Illustrated Resorts development in downtown Ann Arbor. For more information about that, see my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
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.
777 E Eisenhower (Oxford) Resident Participation Meeting: January 9, 2024
This is my recording of a resident participation meeting held on January 9, 2024 at 6:00pm for a proposed development by Oxford Properties at 777 E Eisenhower Parkway.
From the meeting announcement:
Currently imagined as a multiple-phase project across nearly 20 acres, the proposed development will ultimately consist of approximately 1,200 units of multi-family housing, 85,000sf of ground floor commercial, a hotel, public plazas, pocket parks, streetscape and infrastructure improvements, and three parking garages with a combined 2,300 spaces. This project will work with the Brownfield Authority to use public funds for public infrastructure and affordable housing.
MLive published a story about the proposed development this morning:
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
Thursday January 11, 2024 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 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 (24-0005) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – January 11, 2024
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
For the second meeting in a row, Council Members asked no questions to the agenda.
Communications from the Mayor
There are no appointments from the Mayor on the 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 (23-1771) Resolution to Approve Construction Contract Change Order No. 2 with Inliner Solutions, LLC for 2020 On-Call Sewer System Services – RFP # 20-21 ($800,000.00 increase, total contract $1,600,000.00)
CA-2 (23-1900) Resolution No. 2 – Stone School Road Sidewalk Special Assessment District #64, Eisenhower to Packard
CA-3 (23-1996) Resolution No. 3 Establishing a Public Hearing for the Stone School Road Sidewalk Project Special Assessment (District No. 64 – Eisenhower to Packard)
CA-4 (23-2024) Resolution to Enter into an Interlocal Agreement Founding the Washtenaw Area Mutual Aid Council, which will Create a Governmental Entity Pursuant to the Urban Cooperation Act of 1967, MCL 124.501
CA-5 (23-2098) Resolution to Enter into a Professional Services Agreement with Medicount Management, Inc for Ambulance Billing Services
CA-6 (23-2072) Resolution to Rescind User Fee/Overhead Charge Established with R-496-10-77
CA-7 (23-2063) Resolution to Appropriate Funds for Election Center Updates ($689,544.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-8 (23-2069) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for Fool Moon on Friday, April 5, 2024, from 12:00 Noon to 12:00 Midnight
CA-9 (23-2068) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for FestiFools Parade – Sunday, April 7, 2024
CA-10 (23-2070) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the 2024 MUSIC Matters SpringFest from 6:00 A.M. on Sunday, April 14, 2024, until 10:00 P.M.
CA-11 (23-2065) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the University of Michigan Big House 5K on Sunday, April 21, 2024
CA-12 (23-2067) Resolution to Close Streets for the 2024 Autumnal Green Fair, Friday, September 20, 2024
CA-13 (23-2066) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the Ann Arbor SPARK Tech Trek (a2Tech360) on Friday, September 27, 2024, from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM
CA-14 (23-2076) Resolution to Approve a Best Source Purchase Order with Runbeck Election Services, Inc. for Six Vote Hubs ($36,500.00)
CA-15 (23-2084) Resolution to Approve Amendment One to Professional Services Agreement with Management Advisory Group LLC for Interim Human Resources and Labor Relations Director ($75,000.00 Amendment, $150,000.00 Contract Total)
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.
There are no public readings on the agenda.
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.
There are no ordinance second readings on the agenda.
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 (23-2034) An Ordinance to Amend Section 9:158 of Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination) of Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Prohibit City Contractors’ Inquiry Into Job Applicants’ Criminal History Until After Conditional Offer of Employment; and Require City Contractors to Document Efforts to Employ Local Persons for City Construction Contracts
Amendments to the City’s non-discrimination ordinance will prohibit city contractors from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. This applies only to the employees used to fulfill a City contract. It does not apply to hiring practices for employees who produce or provide goods and/or services unrelated to a City contract. Employment may be contingent on a criminal background check and the City may still conduct background checks for positions where there is a statutory duty to do so. City contractors will also be required to document efforts to employ local people.
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 (23-2109) Resolution Denouncing Rising Hate and Discrimination in Ann Arbor and Calling for a Lasting Bilateral Ceasefire in Gaza and Israel
A resolution denouncing “rising hate and discrimination in Ann Arbor and calling for a lasting bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and Israel” is the second version of a resolution that was deleted from an agenda last month. The Council agenda for 12/18/23 included a different version of this resolution; that resolution was on the Council agenda for less than 48 hours before its sponsors (Briggs, Ghazi-Edwin, and Song) asked that it be deleted. This week’s resolution removes all reference to specific violence, fatalities, and displacement in the region. A much shorter resolution denounces any acts of discrimination in the City while calling for the release of all hostages and unrestricted humanitarian aid to Palestinians, as recommended by the United Nations.
DC-2 (24-0016) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Appoint a Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group to Evaluate the City’s Apparel Vendors and their Global Supply Chains for Compliance with Acceptable Labor Standards
By resolution, Council asks the City Administrator to appoint a “Procurement Advisory Group” and report back to Council on or before August 30, 2024. Membership for the proposed group is narrowly prescribed, to include:
- one Council Member
- one member of City staff
- one UM faculty member with “knowledge of international labor practices and workers’ rights”
- one UM student from a “student organization focused on labor codes or specializing in labor-related matters”
- one worker rights advocate.
The group will study the City’s apparel vendors and how they comply with “acceptable labor standards.” The resolution does not articulate what those standards would be, but refers to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The standards identified by the ILO declaration are:
- freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;
- the effective abolition of child labour;
- the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation; and
- a safe and healthy working environment.
The proposed “Procurement Advisory Group” will determine a list of preferred “sweat-free” City vendors and the City Administrator will assess the impact of eliminating City contracts with all others.
DC-3 (23-2119) Resolution to Sell 404 N. Ashley to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($1.00) (8 Votes Required)
By resolution, the City-owned parcel at 404 N. Ashley will be transferred to Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation for $1.00.
This parcel was one of eleven City-owned parcels that a prior Council (2019) designated for the development of affordable housing.
In the last year, a new Council has considered and voted on issues related to the disposition of three other City-owned parcels named in that 2019 resolution:
3/20/23 – 121 E Catherine
The City-owned property at 121 E. Catherine was transferred 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.” The transfer was approved unanimously.
8/21/23 – 350 S Fifth (“Y Lot”)
The City owned property at 350 S. Fifth (the “Y Lot”) was transferred to the Affordable Housing Commission for $6.2 million. Staff confirmed that approximately $5 million would be used to relieve debt attached to the property and the additional funds (~$1 million) would be used for “other initiatives.” The transfer was approved unanimously.
NOTE: One of those “other initiatives” is the new election center referred to in agenda item CA-7 on this week’s agenda ($689,544 for repairs, updates, and furnishings in the new election center/CTN studios)
For more information about this transfer of Affordable Housing Millage funds to relieve debt and purchase property for an election center, see this video:
10/16/23 – William/Ashley (“Kline Lot”)
In response to public announcements that the City-owned lot at William/Ashley (the “Kline Lot”) might be used for a Sports Illustrated Resorts Hotel and Conference Center, Council considered a resolution directing the City Administrator to make written recommendations for use of the lot and an open, public process for its sale. That resolution was defeated by a majority of Council.
For more information about the Kline lot and its potential development as a “Sports Illustrated Resort”:
And this video:
I also published this on my website:
Behind the Scenes: Sports Illustrated Resorts
In the last week, the City granted a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and released more information about a proposed Sports Illustrated Resorts Hotel and Conference Center. The whole of FOIA 2330 includes correspondence from October 5 through December 11, 2023 and can be found here: (link)
This information adds to what was released in a FOIA filed last October. The whole of FOIA 2209 includes correspondence from May 1 through October 5, 2023 and can be found here: (link)
A sports-themed hotel is proposed as a development on a City-owned property (the “Kline lot”) at William and Ashley. In 2019, a previous Council designated this lot for affordable housing and the Ann Arbor housing commission assessed it as ‘high priority’ for the development of affordable housing. A previous Council funded community engagement around the public’s preferred use of this site— a consultant’s report and public survey revealed strong support for maximizing the development of long-term housing on the site. I wrote about recent policy, assessment, and plans for the Kline lot in October 2023:
The October 2023 FOIA revealed that the whole of City Council was invited to participate in private meetings with a developer. In September 2023, Council members saw renderings for a proposed 16-18 story Sports Illustrated Resorts hotel, conference center, food court, time-share condos, and parking garage. In advance of these meetings, City Administrator Dohoney explained:
“We would have to do two briefings because if they were all in one that would be viewed as a public meeting, and have to be on tv… Not everyone will come but I’d like to provide them two options to come see it if they choose too. Several of them have day jobs so it would be hit or miss…”
The new FOIA reveals that since early October 2023, City attorneys, consulting attorneys hired by the City, and other City staff under the direction of City Administrator Dohoney have been negotiating specific terms for a deal to develop the Kline lot. That deal would involve City-issued tax-exempt bonds, brownfield tax abatements, and other public subsidy of a Sports Illustrated Resorts development. Below is the proposed “Transaction Structure”:
On October 19, 2023, the developer’s original statement of “Project Purpose & Description” explained:
“The development of the Project at the Project Site will bring substantial economic benefits to the City, create jobs and employment opportunities and help it alleviate the burdens of government. The Project Site is currently used as a parking facility. The Project Site will be developed as a parking garage, and as a hotel and conference center facility, which is a benefit to the City.”
By November 7, 2023, the project purpose was amended to read:
“The Developer believes the development of the Project at the Project Site will bring substantial economic benefits to the City, create jobs and employment opportunities and help alleviate the burdens of government. The Project Site is currently used as a surface parking lot. The Project Site will be developed as a mixed-use development including a parking garage (the “Garage”), a hotel and conference center facility (the “Hotel”), which are both a benefit to the City and, depending on the market for same, a residential phase containing the Residences.” [emphasis added]
Details of this deal were revealed to Council in a closed session that occurred on November 18, 2023. In advance of that meeting City Council received an email from Mr Dohoney that explained, in part:
“The Project calls for a pad to be constructed on top of the hotel. From there up to 105 market rate condominiums are to be constructed. This portion of construction is to be led by Travel + Leisure based in Orlando, Florida. Each of these units will be $1M+ properties”
“We need to attract more people to Ann Arbor. We want to be a community that is attractive to a very diverse cadre of people. We need more people to consider doing business here. We want to densify our city and that includes downtown. Thriving downtowns are vibrant, and dynamic destinations exuding a sense of place.”
A local resident has organized the results of multiple FOIA requests and other relevant information about what’s proposed. I urge anyone interested in following this issue to visit the website below:
Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!