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 City Council agenda is quite short and includes two public hearings on final approval for two ordinance amendments: a rezoning of properties on Ann Arbor Saline Road and changes to the Transportation Commission bylaws. Council will also amend the terms of sale for 350 S Fifth (Y Lot).
At their last meeting (9/5/23), City Council unanimously approved changes to policy around traffic calming on local neighborhood streets. Moving forward, decisions and policies will be shifted to staff and Mayoral appointees. Local neighborhood influence on decisions is specifically reduced. This week, I made a video about the significance of these changes and how local neighborhood input is discussed among appointees on the Transportation Commission.
Public Power IS Climate Action: From Maine to Michigan and Beyond
This afternoon, I will be attending an event for Ann Arbor for Public Power. It is free but you are encouraged to sign up through this link. I hope to see you there!
Sunday, September 17, 2023 3:00-5:00PM
Samuel T. Dana Building
440 Church Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109
From that website:
Join us for an exciting in-person event at the UMich SEAS Dana Building! We are bringing together a group of experts and community leaders to discuss the crucial role of public power in combating climate change. We are organizing this event in solidarity with the March to End Fossil Fuels which will be held in New York City on the same date.
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.
Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee of September 12, 2023
This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee. Video was not made available. Note that the Zoom audio quality is poor.
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 September 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 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-2 (23-1552) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – September 18, 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
There are no Mayoral appointments 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 (23-1491) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Ann Arbor Marathon Running Event – Sunday, October 1, 2023
CA-2 (23-1314) Resolution to Rename Southeast Area Park as Bicentennial Park
CA-3 (23-1309) Resolution to Approve the 2023 Transportation Asset Management Plan Update
CA-4 (23-1355) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Baldwin Avenue (Packard to Stadium) ($35,000)
CA-5 (23-1361) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Manchester Road (Buckingham to Needham) ($35,000)
CA-6 (23-1489) Resolution to Support the Installation of “Murals That Bridge” Project by Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals Railroad Metal Overpasses and Concrete Underpass Project on Huron Street near North First Street and Authorize an Application for a MDOT Permit
CA-7 (23-1406) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 2 to the Professional Services Agreement with NTH Consultants, Ltd. for the Barton Dam Right Embankment Remediation Project ($140,080.00, total contract $943,587.77)
CA-8 (23-1408) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Geosyntec Consultants of Michigan, Inc. for Hydroelectric Dams – FERC Ninth Part 12D Inspections and Other Engineering Services pertaining to Barton Dam and Superior Dam 1 ($115,700.00; total contract amount $215,700.00) and to Appropriate $21,125.00 from the Water Supply System Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-9 (23-1459) Resolution to Approve a Master Content Subscription Agreement with OpenSesame Inc., for Learning and Development Content integrated into the UKG Learning and Development module for FY2024 – FY2026 and Appropriate Funding ($115,140.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-10 (23-1472) Resolution to Approve Annexation of Vacant Land on Traver Road, 5.23 Acres
CA-11 (23-1482) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate a HUD Grant, Approve a Program Contract with HUD, and Approve a Subrecipient Agreement with the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($3,000,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
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 (23-1160) 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, (2670 & 2690 Ann Arbor-Saline Road – Rezoning from R1C Single-Family Dwelling District to O Office District) (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-23-27)
Two parcels at 2670 and 2690 Ann Arbor-Saline Road are proposed to be rezoned from Single-Family Dwelling district (R1C) to Office District (O). The house at 2670 was previously a rental home and is currently an office. The house at 2690 is currently nonconforming in its use as a personal storage unit.
This rezoning will permit both parcels to be used as Non-principal Residence Short-term Rentals. See Permitted Use table on page 37 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at the link below. https://www.a2gov.org/departments/planning/Pages/Unified%20Development%20Code.aspx
PH-2/B-2 (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.” This amendment was first considered by Council at their 8/7/23 meeting, and postponed at the request of Council Member Harrison, who suggested that bylaws designate one seat for someone over the age of 55. At their meeting on 8/16/23, mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission unanimously rejected the idea of designating a seat for someone over the age of 55.
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.
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 (23-1013) Resolution to Approve Revised Bylaws of the Transportation Commission
This approval is related to the ordinance change in B-2. Council would approve changes to the bylaws for the Transportation Commission.
DC-2 (23-1537) Resolution to Revise 2023 Council Calendar
The 2023 Council calendar will be amended to add two work sessions: Tuesday, September 26 and Monday, October 23. The original calendar approved on 12/5/22 included only three work sessions.
I wrote about the issue of work sessions here:
DC-3 (23-1556) Resolution to Amend Resolution R-23-306 to Sell 350 S. Fifth to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
On 8/21/23, City Council unanimously approved the “sale” of City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth (“Y Lot”) that transferred $6,200,000 from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to the City’s General Fund. Staff confirmed that approximately $5 million was needed to relieve debt attached to the property and additional funds from the Housing Commission (~$1 million) would be used for “other initiatives.”
The purchase agreement approved last month included the condition that if the property was not developed within fifteen years, it would return to the City at no cost. The Housing Commission has requested that this condition be removed.
At their 9/5/23 meeting, Council unanimously approved budget allocations for the $6.2 million received from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission for the “sale” of 350 S. Fifth. Those allocations included $828,250 put toward the purchase of a new Election Center and CTN studios at 3021-3023 Miller Road.
Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!