Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (September 4, 2023)

Sep 4, 2023 | 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, Council considers a lengthy agenda that includes seven public hearings. Council will vote on final approval for amendments to TC-1 zoning, an ordinance requiring home energy audits at time of sale, and amendments to marijuana regulation that will extend business hours later (until midnight).

Public hearings are an opportunity for residents to offer feedback to elected representatives in advance of a vote and final decision. The amount of response, debate and discussion of this public feedback has decreased considerably in recent months, as many of our elected representatives now simply read scripts prepared in advance.

I am paying attention to the feedback offered in these public hearings. At the last City Council meeting, a public hearing for rezoning of newly annexed parcels at Newport/Bird/Victoria was especially interesting. I invite you to watch a video I made about it:

One of the public hearings this week will invite feedback from residents about a rezoning at White/Henry/State/Stimson for the “SouthTown” development that includes up 64 dedicated, full-time short term rentals (or Airbnb). The growth of short term rentals (and corresponding loss of housing units for long-term residents) was an issue I worked on as a Council Member. I invite you to watch a video I made this week about past efforts to regulate Airbnb in Ann Arbor and the decision before Council this week:

On the Consent Agenda this week, Council will approve allocation of money that was transferred from the Housing Commission back to the City, in “purchase” of the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth. Note that item DC-6 on the regular agenda confirms that funds previously allocated for use toward affordable housing will now be spent on a new election center and new studios for CTN.

CA-11 (23-1431) Resolution to Appropriate Funds Received from the Sale of 350 S. Fifth to Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000) (8 Votes Required)

Item CA-3 on the Consent Agenda studies feasibility for a bio-digester at the City’s water resource recovery facility. I was very excited to see this on the agenda. Years ago, I taught in a fifth grade classroom where we learned (all of us, for the first time!) about biogas and bio-digesters. The city of Grand Rapids uses this technology, you can read about it here:

CA-3 (23-1311) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Moore & Bruggink, Inc., for a Biodigester Feasibility Study – Phase 2 (RFP No. 22-12) ($88,130.00 Amendment, $129, 786.00 Contract)

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 August 23, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee. Video was not made available. Note that the Zoom audio quality is poor and began shortly after the meeting started.

Ann Arbor Council Policy Agenda Committee of August 28, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Monday, August 28, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Policy Agenda Committee. Video was not made available.

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

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Tuesday September 5, 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
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 (23-1471) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – September 5, 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

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 (23-1407) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Little Amal – The Walk on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM

CA-2 (23-1388) Resolution to Approve a Land and Water Conservation Grant Application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Grants Management for Improvements at the Buhr Park Ice Arena and Commit $500,000.00 in Local Matching Funds if the Grant is Awarded

CA-3 (23-1311) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Moore & Bruggink, Inc., for a Biodigester Feasibility Study – Phase 2 (RFP No. 22-12) ($88,130.00 Amendment, $129, 786.00 Contract)

CA-4 (23-1321) Resolution to Approve Change Order No. 1 with Fonson Company, Inc. for the 2022 Valve Replacement Project; ($239,931.36 Increase, Total Contract Amount $1,490,903.36)

CA-5 (23-1310) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Ice Control Salt through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) from the Detroit Salt Company LC for Early Fill ($59,860.00) and for Seasonal Backup Supply ($222,000.00)

CA-6 (23-1299) Resolution to Approve the Cityworks License, Maintenance and Support Agreement with Azteca Systems, LLC for FY2024 – FY2028 ($585,716.91)

CA-7 (23-1324) Resolution to Approve a Support Agreement with BSB Communications, Inc. for support of the City’s Mitel Phone System ($78,195.85) (Sourcewell Contract# 0022719-MBS)

CA-8 (23-1325) Resolution to Approve New Election Personnel Pay Scales

CA-9 (23-1392) Resolution to Accept a Sanitary Sewer Easement at Concord Pines of Ann Arbor from Toll Northeast V Corp. (8 Votes Required)

CA-10 (23-1393) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at Concord Pines of Ann Arbor from Toll Northeast V Corp. (8 Votes Required)

CA-11 (23-1431) Resolution to Appropriate Funds Received from the Sale of 350 S. Fifth to Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation ($6,200,000) (8 Votes Required)

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/B-1 (23-1168) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.15, 5.16 and 5.17 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (TC1 Uses, Auto-related and TC1 Development Use Specific Standards, Transit Corridor Additional Standards) (ORD-23-25)
Proposed amendments to the TC-1 zoning category address two potential uses:

  • Automobiles, Motorcycles, Recreational Vehicles, Equipment (Sales and Rental)
  • Automobile, Truck, Construction Equipment Repair

These amendments are in response to a City Council resolution (12/5/22 – Legistar) requesting that the Planning Commission “evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 Zoning District or Unified Development Code (UDC) that:

  • Incorporate limited automobile-related uses into the TC1 District, excluding drive throughs and gas stations
  • Address constraints of existing narrow rights of way”

In a memo (4/18/23 – Legistar), City Staff explained that these amendments do not offer “an evaluation or recommendation to address the constraints of existing narrow rights-of-way, or propose an amendment to the maximum building height limits. These issues will require more time and resources than consideration of permitted uses.”

In that memo, City staff recommended that these uses be permitted as a primary use:
“Staff recommend approval of the proposed amendment to allow automobile, motorcycle, recreation vehicle, equipment (sales and rental) in the TC1 district.”

They explained further:
“Given the existing form-based development standards of the TC1 district, incorporating vehicle sales and rental and vehicle repair uses will have minimal long-term impacts. Newly established vehicle sales, rental and repair uses are required to be in buildings of at least two stories, with an active street-level use, and easy for transit and nonmotorized-transportation users to access. As with any business in TC1, auto-related businesses would only be allowed limited areas on site for outdoor storage of vehicle inventory, or vehicles waiting for repair or pick-up.”

City Council will not consider this recommendation from City staff. Instead, Council considers the recommendation of five Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission, who propose that these categories be allowed only as “special exception use.” By City ordinance, all applications for a “special exception use” are ultimately accepted or rejected by the Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission.

The approval process for Special Exception Use is explained in the “Procedures Summary Table” in section 5.27 on page 170 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at the link below.

It is worth noting: six votes are required for the Planning Commission to act on plans, policy statements, granting of special exception uses, recommendations to City Council, and petitions. Due to three absences and one recusal, the 5-0 recommendation to approve these ordinance amendments was not actually approved by the Planning Commission. Minutes from the 4/18/23 Planning Commission meeting explain that “the motion as amended failed.”

PH-2/B-2 (23-1293) An Ordinance to Add Chapter 106 (Home Energy Rating Disclosure) to Title VIII (Building Regulations) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-23-26)
A new ordinance will require sellers of certain residential housing units to disclose a “Home Energy Audit” prior to sale. Requirements do not apply to multi-story/multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, mobile homes, or commercial buildings. Sellers will provide a Home Energy Score Report completed by a Home Energy Assessor (certified by the US Department of Energy). Included in an audit will be estimates of annual and monthly energy use and cost by fuel type, as well as comparative Home energy scores for similar dwellings. These seller disclosure requirements may be waived at the “sole discretion” of the Director of the Sustainability and Innovations department (Dr. Missy Stults).

At the 8/7/23 Council meeting, Council offered a substitute ordinance recommended by OSI staff with a few changes:

  • “Listing Service” is now defined in the ordinance as the database tool used by realtors
  • Home Energy Score must be disclosed in “at least one” rather than all Real Estate Listings
  • Disclosure requirements that refer to “Real Estate Listing” and “Public Listing” no longer include a sign display
  • Noncompliance is determined at time of sale
  • Fines for noncompliance no longer compound daily

This substitution prompted the need for a second public hearing at this meeting.

PH-3/B-3 (23-1319) An Ordinance to Amend Section 7:602, Sections 7:604 to 7:606, Section 7:608 and Section 7:613 of Chapter 96 (Medical Marijuana Facilities and Marijuana Establishments) of Title VII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-23-28)
This ordinance amendment will create a new class of “micro-business” under city regulation of Marijuana facilities. Currently, one category of micro-business is defined as a facility cultivating up to 150 plants and processing/packaging/selling them to individuals over the age of 21. The amendment will establish a second category of micro-business (“Class A”) that allows a facility to cultivate up to 300 plants, package marijuana, purchase marijuana concentrate or infused products from a processor, and sell them to individuals over the age of 21. The new Class A micro business will not be permitted to process marijuana.

The amendment also includes an expansion of allowable hours of operation. Currently, marijuana facilities may not operate after 9 p.m. of before 7 a.m. The amendment will permit operation until to 12 a.m. (midnight).

The staff memo attached to this amendment explains that “there has been interest among marijuana business owners to allow extended hours of operation.” Additional staff explanation this week refers to “discussions among Council Members.”

Factors that were considered include discussions among Council Members regarding the disparity between the closing hours of establishments in which liquor can be purchased or consumed (2:00 am) and marijuana dispensaries and consumption establishments (9:00 pm).”

Currently, no Council Members are named as sponsors of this amendment. Staff explain further:

AAPD had concerns about a potential 2:00 am closing time because of the amount of cash kept at dispensaries. AAPD recommended allowing marijuana establishments to remain open until 12:00 am for a trial period to see if there might be an uptick in crime during the extended hours, and to allow a later closing time if there are no issues with the 12:00 am closing time.”

PH-4/B-4 (23-1161) 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, (1601 S. State Street – South Town Rezoning from R4C to C1A/R with Conditions) (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-23-24)
Ten parcels with addresses on South State Street (1601, 1605, 1607, 1609, 1611), Henry Street (714), and White Street (1606, 1608, 1610, 1612) will be 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.

Staff explains that the rezoning “increases the development of the block about three times over what is currently allowed.” The height limit for current zoning is 30 feet and the developer proposes zoning with the condition that height not exceed 100 feet. The maximum FAR (a calculation of permitted density) for C1A/R zoning is 300% and this development received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals because it exceeds that maximum. Inclusive of the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 345%; excluding the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 308%.

The block proposed for rezoning and redevelopment/gentrification currently contains 49 housing units on 1.7 acres. There is one single family home at 714 Henry Street and the other nine properties are multi-family housing containing three to thirteen units each. The current R4C zoning prohibits these units from being used as dedicated full-time short term rentals. The zoning change to C1AR will allow the new housing units to be used as short-term rentals, consistent with the adjacent properties owned by the same developer.

Read about the 66-bed short-term rental development on Henry Street (owned by the same developer):

PH-5/DB-1 (23-1316) Resolution to Approve 1601 S. State – South Town Site Plan and Development Agreement (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This site plan is connected to the rezoning at State/Henry/White (PH-4/B-4). Approval will allow the construction of a structure up to 100 feet tall with 216 dwelling units with a 54 space parking garage. Up to 64 units may be used as dedicated full-time short-term-rentals.

PH-6/DB-2 (23-1286) Resolution to Vacate Part of the Alley in Block 3 of the Plat of Hamilton, Rose, and Sheehan’s Addition to the City of Ann Arbor (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (8 Votes Required)
Related to the site plan in DB-1, the City will vacate the alley/public right of way at Henry Street, on the northern half of the block between South State and White.

PH-7/DB-3 (23-1307) Resolution to Vacate a Portion of East Mosley Street in Assessor’s Plat No. 30 (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (8 Votes Required)
The City will vacate the street/public right of way that was never constructed at E. Moseley from the railroad tracks to S. Fifth Avenue. This location will be used by the University of Michigan for a future development.

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 (23-1168is the same as PH-1 above
B-2 (23-1293is the same as PH-2 above
B-3 (23-1319is the same as PH-3 above
B-4 (23-1161is the same as PH-4 above

New Business – Boards and Commissions

DB-1 (23-1316is the same as PH-5 above
DB-2 (23-1286is the same as PH-6 above
DB-3 (23-1307is the same as PH-7 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.

DS-1 (23-1416) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 23-25 – An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.15, 5.16, and 5.17 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Add Categories of Auto-related Uses, and Modifications to Transit Corridor District Additional Standards
Once approved, the ordinance amendment in B-1 must be publicized. This resolution permits a abbreviated summary publication in order to spare expense.

DC-1 (23-1391) Resolution to Appoint Neal Elyakin, Janet Haynes, and Rodrick Green to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
These appointments are from CM Ghazi Edwin (who serves on the Human Rights Commission), CM Harrison (who serves on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission) and CM Song (who serves on both the Human Rights Commission and Independent Community Police Oversight Commission). This was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because according to the resolution, “Janet Haynes and Rodrick Green are not registered electors of the City of Ann Arbor”.

  • Neal Elyakin – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
  • Rodrick Green – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
  • Janet Haynes – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission

DC-2 (23-1439) Resolution to Adopt an Improved Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program
This resolution eliminates Council approval for traffic calming projects. Moving forward, decisions will be delegated to the City Administrator and he is directed to develop a school traffic calming toolkit by December 31, 2024. Moving forward, a subset of mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission (“Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee”) will work with staff on updating and defining programs.

DC-3 (23-1443) Resolution to Improve Data Transparency and Performance Management
The City Administrator is directed to assess best practices and City practice in data access and performance management. The Council Administration Committee will oversee implementation of the resolution.

DC-4 (23-1467) Resolution to Initiate a Statue to Honor Kathy Kozachenko
The City Administrator is directed to pursue a State of Michigan historical marker ahead of plans to erect a statue at City Hall to honor Kathy Kozachenko, the first openly gay or lesbian candidate to be elected to public office in the U.S. Kathy Kozachenko was elected to Ann Arbor City Council in 1974 from the then active Human Rights Party.

She ran on a platform of putting “people over profits”— you can read more about that here:

The Michigan History Center has more information, and link to a 2020 Michigan Radio interview with Kathy Kozachenko:

The resolution explains that the City hopes to raise $100,000 toward the statue as part of a program from Statues for Equality. You can read about Statues for Equality here:

DC-5 (23-1469) A Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Advocate for the Michigan Legislature to End the Use of 14(c) Certificates and Subminimum Wage in the State of Michigan
This resolution communicates the City’s interest in seeing an end to state programs that permit sub-minimum wages for workers with disabilities. The state program grants 14(c) certificates which permit wages as low as less than $1 an hour. By resolution, City Council “strongly discourages” local businesses from using these 14(c) certificates, directs the City Administrator to advocate for an end to them, and urges the Michigan State Legislature to phase them out.

DC-6 (23-1473) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Agreement for 3021-3023 Miller Road for the Purposes of Establishing an Election Center and Building Studio Space for the Community Television Network $2,800,000 and to Appropriate $828,250.00 from the General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
A 20,861 square foot property at 3021-3023 Miller Road will be purchased for $2.9 million in order to house new facilities for CTN as well as Election Center. CTN facilities are currently located at 2805 South Industrial Highway in a property that is leased from an LLC affiliated with Jeff Hauptman of Oxford Companies . Regarding the new property at 3021-3023 Miller Rd, a memo explains that months ago, Oxford Companies met with City staff to “determine design needs, mock-up a preliminary design sketch of the floor plan and render an estimated cost of construction.” Oxford Companies have been asked to provide “up-to-date service and life-span information” for all mechanical systems.

Funding for this purchase comes from $996,750 in ARPA allocations, $1,075,000 from general fund balance, and $828,250 in Affordable Housing Funds received from the Housing Commission (proceeds from the sale of 350 S. Fifth to the Housing Commission).

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