Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (June 16, 2024)

Jun 16, 2024 | 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, Ann Arbor City Council considers a very short agenda, with public hearings for annexations of township islands at Algebe Way, Huron River Drive, and Huntington Place. Council will also vote on a developer’s request to amend zoning conditions, in order to allow gas hookups at the approved development of Southtown at State/Stimson. Finally, Council will consider a resolution directing the City Administrator to find funding for a study of reparations.

Note that Council meets on Tuesday, due to Eid al-Adha on Monday.

MODELING PEER COMMUNITIES

This week’s resolution regarding reparations (DC-4) introduces an idea that has already been implemented in a peer community: Evanston, Illinois. Like Ann Arbor, Evanston is home to a university and many educated residents who are predominantly liberal and progressive. 

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about Evanston, because it is the most recent example of a public financing program for local elections. In September 2023, the Evanston City Council approved a small donor matching fund to address the influence of big money on local elections. You can read more about it here:
https://dailynorthwestern.com/2023/10/03/city/small-donor-match-fund-aims-to-level-election-playing-field/

Evanston is a role model for those of us who care about inclusion, access, and participation in our local democracy. Like Ann Arbor, the Evanston community is relatively wealthy. However, elected leaders in Evanston value a local democracy that is inclusive and equitable; local elections should not be defined by wealthy donors, PACs, and big money from out of town.

If you’re interested in seeing more inclusive local elections that are less vulnerable to big money, I encourage you to visit the websites below or visit 310 S. Ashley (open 3 – 7 p.m. this week), to connect with petitions that will put election reform on the ballot!
A2Future.com
A2Nonpartisan.com


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.
https://www.youtube.com/@a2elnel

Council Administration Committee: June 11, 2024

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 by the Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee. Video was not made available.
https://a2council.com/council-administration-committee-june-11-2024/

Discussed at the meeting:

  • Council Communications Preferences: Deciding the process to spend $100,000/year on mailers for the Mayor and Council Members. As discussed in the meeting, every resident of Ann Arbor will get three mailers/postcards – one from the Mayor, and one from each of the Ward Council Members. This was approved as a FY25 budget amendment at the May 20, 2024 Council Meeting.
  • Council Training and Travel: Deciding the process to spend $5000/year per Council Member for travel expenses. This was approved as part of the FY25 budget at the May 20, 2024 Council Meeting.

For more about these items, see A2ELNELAnn Arbor Budget: Council Cashing In


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
Tuesday June 16, 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:
https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1141276&GUID=8A63AB9A-1230-422D-B976-3D95BE614497

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:
https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

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”
https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Pages/Virtual-Meetings-.aspx

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 (24-1221) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – June 18, 2024
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 (24-1070) Resolution to Appoint Bentley Johnson to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission
This appointment is from CM Radina, who serve on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Bentley Johnson – Greenbelt Advisory Commission

Communications from the Mayor

MC-1 (24-1219) Appointments and Nominations for June 18, 2024
This appointment from the Mayor is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Richard Norton – City Planning Commission

MC-2 (24-1233) Appointment of Matthew Weber to the Housing Commission (1- Step Appointment, 8 Votes Required)
This appointment from the Mayor is being presented at this meeting, and will be voted on in this meeting in a “one-step process”. Eight votes are required.

  • Matthew Weber – Housing 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 (24-1123) Resolution to Approve Closure of East Liberty between South Division and South Fifth for Sonic Lunch Performance on Thursday, June 20, 2024 from 7:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M.

CA-2 (24-1112) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the City of Ann Arbor Bicentennial Event on July 3, 2024

CA-3 (24-1114) Resolution to Update the Approval for the Third Tuesday of July Annually as the Opening Day of the Ann Arbor Art Fair, to Approve Street Closings for the Annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, to Affirm the Requirements for Temporary Outdoor Sales, Service and Consumption of Alcohol and the Standards For Temporary Outdoor Sales on Private Property, and to Affirm the Allocation of Fees Among the Art Fair Organizations

CA-4 (24-1050) Resolution to Approve Participation in a Proposal to the USDA-NRCS FY 2024 RCPP for up to $3,000,000 in Grants for Conservation Easements

CA-5 (24-0972) Resolution to Approve the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board Recommendations to Amend the Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Fund Policy

CA-6 (24-0950) Resolution to Increase Purchasing Authority on the Professional Services Agreement with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services from $500,000.00 to $615,000.00

CA-7 (24-0746) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Fishbeck for Engineering Design Services for the Pontiac Trail Roundabouts Project ($898,179.00) (RFP No. 24-12)

CA-8 (24-0921) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with E.T. MacKenzie Company for the Huron River Drive Culvert Replacement Project (RFP 24-20; $574,746.00)

CA-9 (24-0962) Resolution to Approve Change Order No. 1 to the General Services Agreement with Schindler Elevator Corporation for the Water Plant Freight Elevator Jack Replacement ($74,444.00 amendment, total contract amount $520,548.00)

CA-10 (24-0975) Resolution to Approve an As-Needed Purchase Order for Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) and Emulsion to Cadillac Asphalt, LLC. (Not to Exceed $264,975.00; ITB 4744)

CA-11 (24-1027) Resolution to Approve a Lease with Washtenaw County for Vehicle and Equipment Storage in the Vehicle Storage Building at 2000 S. Industrial (Total Rent for 3 Years – $13,167.23) (8 Votes Required)

CA-12 (24-1021) Resolution to Approve Insurance Policy Renewal Agreements with Midwest Employers’ Casualty for Worker’s Compensation Coverage for Employees Outside of Michigan and Allianz for Auto Physical Damage Coverage effective July 1, 2024

CA-13 (24-1125) Resolution to Approve Amendment 1 to the Professional Services Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Dawn, Inc. ($85,000.00)

CA-14 (24-1051) Resolution to Accept an Easement for Public Sidewalk at 2883 Stone School Road from Patrick J. Flannery and Candace E. Terhune-Flannery (8 Votes Required)

CA-15 (24-0936) Resolution to Grant an Easement through Mary Beth Doyle Park to DTE Electrical Company for New and Existing Electrical Utility Service (8 Votes Required)

CA-16 (24-1036) Resolution to Approve Amendment Number 1 to Renewal No. 1 to the Agreement with Rivenoak Law Group, PC for Legal Services for City Sustainability Efforts ($54,100 Amendment; $164,100 Total)

CA-17 (24-0960) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of Heavy Truck and Equipment Repairs and Parts for the City’s Fleet for the Period of FY25 – FY29

CA-18 (24-0943) Resolution to Amend Purchasing Authorization for FY24 and FY25 with MacQueen Equipment, LLC of Lake Orion, Michigan, for Repair Parts and Services ($135,000.00 Annually)

CA-19 (24-0938) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Heavy Equipment/Truck Tires and Tire Repair Services from Shrader Tire & Oil (Omnia Partners; Not To Exceed $115,000.00 Annually)

CA-20 (24-0937) Resolution to Authorize A Sole Source Purchase Order with Jack Doheny Companies Inc. for the Purchase of Parts and Service for Water, Sanitary and Storm Sewer Equipment (Not to Exceed $190,000.00 Annually)

CA-21 (24-0999) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of Three Vehicles from Lunghamer Ford and Appropriate Revenue for the FY2024 Fleet Services Fund Operations and Maintenance Budget (State of Michigan MiDeal – $254,967.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-22 (24-0945) Resolution to Amend a Purchase Order with MacQueen Equipment, LLC of Lake Orion, Michigan, for Street Sweeper Rentals ($105,283.00)

CA-23 (24-0958) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of a Schwarze M6 Avalanche Street Sweeper from Fredrickson Supply and Appropriate Capital Contributions to the Fleet Services Fund Operations and Maintenance Budget ($36,559.00) (Sourcewell – $406,230.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-24 (24-0946) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of a 2024 Caterpillar Electric Forklift from Fraza Forklift and to Appropriate Capital Contribution to the Fleet and Facilities Fund Operations and Maintenance Budget (Sourcewell Bid – $79,419.86) (8 Votes Required)

CA-25 (24-1001) Resolution to Amend Ann Arbor City Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (8 Votes Required)

CA-26 (24-1078) Resolution to Temporarily Relocate Precincts 1-5, 1-6 (A2 Steam at Northside), 5-44 (Ann Arbor Open), 5-50 (Haisley School), 5-51 (Abbot School) for the Primary Election on Tuesday, August 6, 2024 due to Construction Projects at the Ann Arbor Public Schools

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/DB-1 (24-0803) Resolution to Approve the Brixmor Annexation, 0.05 Acres, 110 Algebe Way (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A parcel of 0.05 acres at 110 Algebe Way, currently in Ann Arbor Township, will be annexed into the City. The parcel is already within the City’s water and sewer service area, and the current use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and comprehensive plan. Future zoning of R1B (Single-family district) zoning is proposed and will be considered after annexation.

Planning approved this annexation on April 16, 2024:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-april-16-2024/

According to the staff report this parcel became orphaned when US-23 was built. The property owner intends to combine this parcel with an adjacent 36 acre site for a proposed “South Pond Village” development.
https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=13006456&GUID=BAE527FC-F3F3-4070-A94C-9A796CF819BB

PH-2/DB-2 (24-0838) Resolution to Approve the 3474 East Huron River Drive Annexation, 1.66 Acres (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A parcel of 1.66 acres at 3437 Huron River Drive, currently in Ann Arbor Township, will be annexed into the City. The parcel is already within the City’s water and sewer service area, and the current use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and comprehensive plan. Future zoning of R1D (Single-family district) zoning is proposed and will be considered after annexation.

Planning approved this annexation on April 16, 2024:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-april-16-2024/

According to the staff report, the petitioner originally requested R1A zoning, and “intends to construct a single-family home on the lot.” The zoning request was amended by the Planning Commission to R1D. The petitioner was present at the meeting, and agreed to the change in zoning.
https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=13006457&GUID=1E36EB09-F6F6-46B8-A385-D53003E4307C

PH-3/DB-3 (24-0848) Resolution to Approve the Loo Annexation, 0.51 Acres, 444 Huntington Place (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A parcel of 0.51 acres at 444 Huntington Place, currently in Ann Arbor Township, will be annexed into the City. The parcel is already within the City’s water and sewer service area, and the current use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and comprehensive plan. Future zoning of R1B (Single-family district) zoning is proposed and will be considered after annexation.

Planning approved this annexation on April 16, 2024:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-april-16-2024/

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 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 (24-0988) 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, of 1.7 Acres from C1A/R With [2023] Conditions (Campus Business Residential) to C1A/R With [2024] Conditions (Campus Business Residential), Southtown Rezoning (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A developer has requested an amendment to zoning approved less than a year ago. In September 2023, a 1.7 acre block at State/Stimson was 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. 

The terms of the rezoning approved in 2023 added conditions, including a limitation on natural gas hookups:
“the property shall have no natural gas connections except for emergency back-up power”

The developer now requests an amendment to change this condition to:
“the property will demonstrate continuous microgrid at 60-75% less carbon intensity (CI) than electricity incumbent DTE”

The City Planning Commission approved the original rezoning to C1A/R for the Southtown development on June 21, 2023:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-june-21-2023/

Council approved the rezoning to C1A/R on Aug 7, 2023:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-council-august-7-2023/

The City Planning Commission approved this week’s proposed zoning amendment on May 7, 2024:
https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-may-7-2024/

According to the Planning staff report, the developer plans to “generate its own electricity from fuel cells using renewable natural gas fuels or hydrogen fuels”
https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=13008346&GUID=13DB7758-DCCE-40B8-BCFD-6085ED7FFBD3

A letter from the Southtown designer explains that the developers plan to utilize renewable natural gas (RNG) from “agricultural emissions or via biodigestion, if commercially available.” The developer plans to eventually shift to “green hydrogen” or “blue hydrogen” neither of which is yet commercially available. If unavailable, the developer plans to purchase RNG from DTE.
https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=13008347&GUID=EBAA2897-3FFC-40A4-9755-684DD75831CB

At a recent Council meeting, the current chair of the City’s Environmental Commission raised concerns that RNG from factory farms generates the same harmful pollutants as the fossil fuel industry. For more on how RNG has been promoted by the fossil fuel industry, see:
https://www.rewiringamerica.org/circuit-breakers/renewable-gas

https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/food-and-farms/the-investment-boom-in-renewable-natural-gas-is-sparking-debate

The Conservation Law Foundation describes “renewable natural gas” as greenwashing:
https://www.clf.org/blog/the-truth-about-renewable-natural-gas/

For more information about the developer of Southtown and the rezoning approved nine months ago, see:

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 (24-0803is the same as PH-1 above
DB-2 (24-0838is the same as PH-2 above
DB-3 (24-0848is the same as PH-3 above

DC-1 (24-0976) Resolution to Appoint Hank Peters-Wood and Olivia Smyth to the Environmental Commission (7 Votes Required)
These appointments are from CM Disch and CM Akmon, who serve on the Environmental Commission. These were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because one of the nominees “is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor”.

  • Hank Peters-Wood – Environmental Commission
  • Olivia Smyth – Environmental Commission

DC-2 (24-1033) Resolution to Reappoint Carrie Leahy to the Local Development Finance Authority as a Non-registered Elector (7 Votes Required)
This reappointment 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 appointee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor”

  • Carrie Leahy – Local Development Finance Authority

DC-3 (24-1011) Resolution to Recommend Approval of Issuance of a Downtown Development District Liquor License to Alo’s LLC
A Downtown Development District Liquor License will be issued to Alo’s LLC at 221 W. Liberty St. The license will permit a restaurant to offer a full bar that serves a range of beverages, including wine, beer, mixed drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages.

DC-4 (24-1223) Resolution to Study a Reparations Program in Ann Arbor to Remediate Historical Injustices and Discrimination Against its Black Residents
The City Administrator is directed to identify a funding source for a study regarding the feasibility of a reparations program to remediate historical injustices and discrimination against Black residents of Ann Arbor. A report will be submitted to Council as soon as practical, with a status update no later than December 2024.

An overview of reparations from the Black Law Students Association at the University of Pennsylvania:
https://law.upenn.libguides.com/ReparationsResourceCenter/billsandprograms

Information from the National African American Reparations Commissions:
https://reparationscomm.org/reparations-plan/

Explanation about reparations and home ownership, from the National League of Cities:
https://www.nlc.org/article/2023/02/10/cities-are-addressing-the-past-and-building-futures-through-reparations/

An alternative point of view from Black history scholars, who argue that such programs should be implemented at the federal level:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-07-12/the-case-against-reparations-in-evanston-asheville-and-california

Such programs are at various stages of study or implementation in many municipalities across the country, including Evanston, Illinois. In 2019, Evanston committed $10,000,000 to a reparations program. You can find information about that program here:
https://www.cityofevanston.org/government/city-council/reparations

A PBS story about implementation of the reparations program in Evanston:.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/the-impact-of-the-nations-first-cash-reparations-program-for-black-residents


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