This week, we received the sad news that former Ward 4 Ann Arbor City Council Member, Graydon Krapohl, passed away. He had a distinguished life of public service that you can read more about here:
A few days ago, I received a call from a Lower Burns Park neighbor, who expressed his grief about the news and shared his own memories of spreading mulch at Rose/White Park with Graydon. I understand that Graydon Krapohl served his community in many ways, but parks were a special passion. I have inquired about how the City generally (and Ward 4, specifically) might honor him appropriately. I expect that this will be a topic of discussion at some time in the future.
This Monday, Council is using the Zoom application to meet virtually. The video feed will be broadcast on CTN and YouTube. As with the last meeting, public comment will be audio only using Zoom. Please see the phone numbers and meeting ID below. We will also be holding City Council Caucus on Sunday night via Zoom. Please check the Legistar link for the latest information.
Sunday April 19th 7:00pm
Viewing information is unavailable at this time. Check Legistar link for updated information.
To speak at public comment (audio only) call: (877) 853-5247 -or- (888) 788-0099 and enter Meeting ID: 982 6614 1714
Monday April 20th 7:00pm
Broadcast live on CTN Cable Channel 16, ATT Channel 99, or online at www.a2gov.org/watchCTN
To speak at public comment (audio only) call: (877) 853-5247 -or- (888) 788-0099 and enter Meeting ID:965 4235 4157
Local COVID-19 Information and Links
City of Ann Arbor COVID-19 Updates
Washtenaw County COVID-19 Updates
State of Michigan COVID-19 Updates
In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.
You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/
City Council Voting Chart for April 6, 2020
A2COUNCIL Updates (A2COUNCIL.com)
For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at A2COUNCIL.com with summaries of issues and direct links to City documents. For each City Council meeting since November 2018, you can find links to the City’s Legistar website, CTN’s YouTube video, and links to my newsletters and voting charts. I have listed agenda items of interest from each meeting, along with articles I’ve written and articles published on MLive.
A2 COVID-19 Interview Videos (A2COVID19.com)
I appreciate that members of our community are struggling in different ways right now. Residents have different strategies for coping and adjusting to this new reality. I’ve been working on a project to explore the personal experiences of our community. I’m interviewing people I know (who are willing to share) and recording what they say. You can find my interviews as blog entries on my website, and also on my YouTube channel.
Link to all A2 COVID-19 articles on my website (videos + transcripts)
Link to my YouTube A2 COVID-19 playlist
Boards and Commissions Applications
Membership on Ann Arbor Boards and Commissions is constantly changing as terms end and appointees step down. We need you! You can find openings at the following link (or contact me directly) https://a2gov.granicus.com/boards/w/fe6c5e22e6f4a331/vacancies
A reminder about a few city resources:
A2 Fix It This is an online system for alerting the city to problems in your neighborhood (e.g. potholes, graffiti, garbage pickup). This is the city’s preferred method for hearing your complaint so they can direct appropriate staff to address it. I’m happy to hear from you, too, but city staff tell me that the online A2FixIt system is actually the quickest and fastest way to get a response to the problem. Information about A2FixIt (and explanation of more urgent issues and appropriate numbers to call) is here:
City News and Announcements This is a helpful link to updates on events and opportunities in Ann Arbor through City Hall:
City Department Updates If you have specific interests related to the city’s work, e.g. construction projects, deer management, recycling, you can subscribe to receive emailed updates on various topics found here:
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda
Below is my summary of some 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, feel free to email me.
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website:
Ann Arbor City Council
Monday Apr 20, 2020 (7:00pm)
City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit:
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 (20-0560) April 20, 2020 Agenda Response Memo and eComments
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 board or commission nominations from the Mayor at the time of publication
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 (20-0434) Resolution Directing City Staff to Conduct Community Engagement Around Affordable Housing Development Options for 353 S Main
CA-2 (20-0446) Resolution to Approve Purchase of Licensing and Professional Services with EMC Corporation ($28,000.00)
CA-3 (20-0475) Resolution No. 3 Establishing a Public Hearing for the Proposed Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Project
CA-4 (20-0481) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Ideal Contracting, LLC for the Landfill Scale and Entrance Improvements Project ($1,599,714.00, Bid No. ITB-4618)
CA-5 (20-0497) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Cadillac Asphalt LLC (ITB-4260, $8,899,300.00) for the 2020 Street Resurfacing Project, and to Appropriate $1,000,000.00 from the Major Street Fund, $1,990,000.00 from the Local Street Fund, $350,000.00 from the Stormwater Fund, and $100,000.00 from the Alternative Transportation Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (20-0493) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Agreement with CivicPlus, LLC (FKA “Rec1”) for Annual Software Maintenance and Support ($32,388.00 Annually)
CA-7 (20-0500) Resolution to Direct the City Administrator, Ann Arbor Housing Commission, and Planning Commission to Create Proposed Application Materials, Review and Recommend Development Entitlements to the City Council for 415 W. Washington to Support the Development of Affordable Housing in the City
CA-8 (20-0501) Resolution to Direct the City Administrator, Ann Arbor Housing Commission, and Planning Commission to Create Proposed Application Materials, Review and Recommend Development Entitlements to the City Council for 350 S. Fifth Avenue (former Y-Lot) to Support the Development of Affordable Housing in the City
CA-9 (20-0516) Resolution to Approve the Change of Date for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run to Monday, September 7, 2020
CA-10 (20-0511) Resolution Adopting the Living A2Zero Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality Plan
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 (20-0492) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination), Sections 9:150, 9:151, 9:152, 9:156, and 9:157, Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Clarify Definition of Source of Income, Add Ethnicity as a Protected Class, and Add an Exception Allowing Discounts for Veterans (Ordinance No. ORD-20-12)
Amendment to the Nondiscrimination Ordinance would add reference and description of “ethnicity” as a protected category. Source of income calculations must multiply the value of housing assistance (X3) in order to more accurately assess a person’s ability to pay rent and prevent discrimination against housing vouchers in market rate rentals.
PH-2/B-2 (20-0244) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Ann Arbor Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.6 Acre from C2B (Business Service District) to C3 (Fringe Commercial District), MSGCU Rezoning, 2151 West Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-04)
The property at 2151 West Stadium (the parcel south of Bell’s Diner) was previously zoned C-3 (Fringe Commercial District) and C-2B (Business Service District). Developers petitioned for re-zoning of the C-2B portion (.6 acres) for a special exception use under C-3, to allow for construction of a credit union with drive-thru service. The Planning Commission approved this 6-0 and found it to be consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.
PH-3/DB-1 (20-0437) Resolution to Approve MSGCU Site Plan, 2151 W Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Site plan for the property at 2151 West Stadium, for construction of a credit union with drive-thru service. (See PH-1/B-2)
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 (20-0492) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination), Sections 9:150, 9:151, 9:152, 9:156, and 9:157, Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Clarify Definition of Source of Income, Add Ethnicity as a Protected Class, and Add an Exception Allowing Discounts for Veterans (Ordinance No. ORD-20-12)
This is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (20-0244) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Ann Arbor Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.6 Acre from C2B (Business Service District) to C3 (Fringe Commercial District), MSGCU Rezoning, 2151 West Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-04)
This is the same as PH-2 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 approval. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting, where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (20-0435) An Ordinance to Amend Section 1:156 of Chapter 7 (Downtown Development Authority) of Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Unit income target goals for the DDA Housing Fund would be aligned with the City of Ann Arbor’s Affordable Housing goals. The DDA Housing fund (under current ordinance) now targets development of housing at 50% of AMI (Area Median Income). With this amendment. the DDA Housing Fund could support development of housing up to 60% of AMI (Area Median Income), and help fund planning, studies and process for potential projects at 11 City-owned properties (See Resolution from 11/18/19)
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 (19-1887) Resolution Supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Active Involvement with the Gelman Site and Encouraging its Listing of the same as a “Superfund” Site
City Council would express its support of the EPA’s active involvement in cleanup of the Gelman plume and encourages the EPA to list the site of the Contamination a “Superfund” site on the National Priorities List under CERCLA. The City Administrator would convey this resolution to the Governor, soliciting a Concurrence Letter to USEPA in support of making the Gelman Site into a National Priorities List site. This resolution (and any other state concurrence) would also be sent to the Washtenaw County delegation to the Michigan Legislature, the Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.
DC-2 (20-0538) Resolution to Approve Fifth Amendment to Professional Services Agreement with Bodman, PLC, for Legal Services Relative to 1,4-Dioxane from Gelman Sciences, Inc., dba Pall Life Sciences ($92,500.00) and to Appropriate Funds ($92,500.00) (8 Votes Required)
The Bodman, PLC law firm provides professional services to the City in its litigation against Gelman Sciences, Inc., dba Pall Life Sciences (Gelman) relative to the 1,4-dioxane plume. This agreement would approve an expenditure of $92,500 to pay for estimated legal fees through June 2020.
DC-3 (20-0541) Resolution to Approve Extension of the Temporary Employment Agreement between Abigail Elias and the City of Ann Arbor
A temporary Employment Agreement with Abigail Elias would be extended to provide legal services to the City during the interim of replacing a Senior City Attorney. (A previous extension of the employment agreement ended on April 1, 2020.) Funds have already been allocated for this purpose, but the time frame of a potential work period would be extended to end on (or before) June 1, 2020.
DC-4 (20-0559) Resolution Urging Federal and State Lawmakers to Allow Virtual SNAP Benefit and EBT Card Use
See my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
DB-1 (20-0437) Resolution to Approve MSGCU Site Plan, 2151 W Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-3 above.
I have added Item DC-4 to this week’s agenda with the hope of raising awareness about a problem that is impacting our most vulnerable residents during this pandemic. The problem: members of our community who receive food assistance (SNAP benefits) in the form of EBT cards are not permitted to place orders online or by phone. This situation had to be explained and described to me – I had no idea that such restrictions existed but increasingly they have become a barrier to accessing food under current circumstances. It turns out that the federal benefits of the SNAP program are administered at the state level; the rule prohibiting phone/online orders exists only because the state of Michigan imposes it.
Under current stay-at-home orders and for very legitimate reasons, many families SHOULD be placing online or phone orders for food. For anyone without a car, safe transportation options are fewer now. For many families (e.g. households that include folks with compromised health), the safest way to get food is to have it delivered; the only way to facilitate delivery is online/phone orders. It is shocking to me that a state regulation puts our most vulnerable residents at a very specific disadvantage in accessing food and protecting themselves against COVID-19.
Item DC-4 is a good example of the limits of our local City government, but it also prompts me to be grateful for the excellent representation we have at the state level. I’ve been able to convey concerns about this to our local State rep, Yousef Rabhi, who has already passed it on to Governor Whitmer. I am hopeful that this resolution raises more alarm/attention about the issue. It’s a big deal for a lot of families who need healthy food and groceries.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!