This week at Ann Arbor City Council, the agenda is fairly short but includes a rezoning, amendment to a PUD, and a motion for reconsideration of an item from last meeting. As the summer winds down, I am pleased to report that a major project in Ward 4 is near completion: according to the latest city status update, Maywood is going to enjoy final resurfacing this Monday. I know that this project has dragged on for some time, I’m sure many are relieved to see it finished.
Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours tomorrow (Sunday) from 3-4:30 p.m. at RoosRoast on Rosewood. I hope this is a convenient opportunity for us to meet in person and hear perspectives.
Some of us on City Council have decided to resume a tradition of “Council Caucus” on Sunday nights. I am looking forward to this opportunity for additional open, public conversation around the issues that matter to you!
Sunday Aug 18 (7:00-9:00pm)
City Hall 2nd Floor
301 E Huron St
- Public comment general time. (Three minutes, no need to signup in advance and speakers will be assigned in the order of arrival.)
- Discussion, primarily topics on the next day’s Council agenda.
- One or more council members will be present for each caucus.Children are welcome. (Books and crayons provided)
- If there is public interest, then the caucus sessions will continue every Sunday before regular Council meetings.
For more information about Council Caucus, see the city website at:
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)
Road Construction Updates
It’s the season for road construction, and I post regular updates on my website about projects that affect Ward 4 residents. My posts include links to the City’s website, so that you can find more information and contact info.
For information about these and other projects, the City has a page of road and lane closures, and a page of scheduled construction projects:
Hoover/Greene/Hill Project Update Aug 12th
An update on the large construction project involving Hoover/Greene/Hill.
Maywood Ave Construction Update Aug 16th
Final paving on Maywood Ave is scheduled for Monday, Aug 19th.
South State Street Traffic Control Plan updated for Aug 19-29
The traffic control plan on South State Street between Stimson Street and Oakbrook Drive will change starting Aug 19, 2019.
Additional Website 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 Aug 5, 2019
Greenbelt Advisory Commission public engagement session Sept 5th
The Greenbelt Advisory Commission (GAC) is leading the 2019 review of the program’s strategic plan, with opportunities for the community to provide input. Six public engagement sessions have been scheduled between July and October 2019. The third meeting is scheduled for Sept 5th.
Greenbelt Advisory Commision Public Engagement
Thursday, Sept 5, 2019 (4:30–7:00 PM)
City Hall 2nd Floor (Council chambers)
301 E. Huron St
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 Aug 19, 2019 (7:00pm)
City Hall 2nd Floor
301 E Huron St
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 (19-1569) August 19, 2019 Agenda Response Memo and eComments
This agenda item will have a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff (as of the mailing of this newsletter, the attachment has not yet been uploaded, but will be available before the Council meeting)
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (19-1547) Nominations and Appointments
These Mayoral appointments are being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Zachary Ackerman – Planning Commission
- Deanna Lernihan – Transportation Commission
MC-2 (19-1549) Resolution to Appoint James Summers to the Transportation Commission (7 Votes Required)
This Mayoral appointment is being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of the City of Ann Arbor.
- James Summers – Transportation Commission
Below is the list of items included on tomorrow’s 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 (19-1486) Resolution to Approve the Closing of State Street from William to Liberty Streets and North University between State and Fletcher Streets for the Game Watch on State Street Event from 6:00 AM on Saturday, September 21, 2019 until 1:00 AM on Sunday, September 22, 2019
CA-2 (19-1500) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the South University Area Association Block Party on Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 2:00 PM until 1:00 AM on Sunday, September 15, 2019
CA-3 (19-1501) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Dicken Run 5K – Sunday, October 13, 2019 from 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM
CA-4 (19-1497) Resolution to Approve a Contract with SmithGroup, Inc. to Conduct Public Engagement, Develop Potential Building Concepts and Evaluate Feasibility of the Property Located at 415 W. Washington (8 Votes Required)
CA-5 (19-1474) Resolution to Approve a Supplemental Fire Services Agreement between The City of Ann Arbor and The Regents of the University of Michigan from September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2024
CA-6 (19-1411) Resolution to Set Revised Fee in Lieu of Affordable Housing Formula and Adopt 2019 Annual Fee in Lieu Rate
CA-7 (19-1193) Resolution to Approve a Construction Phase Agreement with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for $136,635.00 for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project
CA-8 (19-1316) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 2 to the Professional Services Agreement with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services ($110,000.00)
CA-9 (19-1470) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Hennessey Engineers, Inc. for Construction Engineering Services for Pavement Condition Rating Services ($54,580.00)
CA-10 (19-1380) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Niles Industrial Coatings, LLC to Paint the Interior of the Retention Building at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, ITB No. 4587 ($70,768.00)
CA-11 (19-0663) Resolution to Approve a General Services Agreement with Tyndale Enterprises, Inc. to Implement the Public Services Area Managed Clothing (Uniform) Program (RFP# 19-15)
CA-12 (19-1453) Resolution to Approve an Administrative Services Agreement with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone LDFA for Administrative and Support Services ($164,800.00 over a two-year period)
CA-13 (19-1493) Resolution to Appoint Michael Pettigrew as the City of Ann Arbor City Treasurer
CA-14 (19-1454) Resolution Authorizing a Resident Taxpayer Protest before the Board of Review by Letter without a Personal Appearance
CA-15 (19-1466) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with SDS Global Enterprises, Inc. for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan Services ($161,000.00)
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 (19-1087) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.15 (Table 5-15), 5.17.3, 5.17.5 (Table 5:17-5), and Section 5.37.2 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Permitted Use Table, Parkland Donations, Dimensional Standards Table, Front Lot Line)
The Unified Development Code of Ann Arbor would be amended to correct mistakes in the three sections and clarify a fourth. 1) Correct Section 5.15 table 5-15 to indicate that medical marijuana processor use is permitted in M1A district; 2) Correct Section 5.17.3A to state that lot area includes land donated or to be donated to the City for public park purposes which is acceptable to the City; 3) Correct Section 5.17.5, Table 5:17-5 to show the requirement for a 50 foot setback in the R5 district and reference footnote F; 4) Amend the definition of front lot line in Section 5.37.2 to clarify that a “street” does not mean a highway or an alley.
PH-2/B-2 (19-1186) 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 Ann Arbor, Rezoning of 0.2 Acre from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to C1A (Campus Business District) WITH CONDITIONS, The Garnet Rezoning, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A 0.2 acre property at 325 East Summit Street would be re-zoned from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to C1A (Campus Business District) with conditions. The re-zoning will allow construction of a four-story, ten unit condominium building with eleven parking spaces. Conditional re-zoning will limit building height to four stories (65 feet) and limit the maximum floor area ratio to 199%.
PH-3/DB-1 (19-1185) Resolution to Approve The Garnet Site Plan and Development Agreement, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The site plan for “The Garnet” at 325 East Summit Street (see PH-2/B-2) would be approved with conditions. The developer will include 23 bicycle parking places and a green roof. They will also make a $6,250 contribution to parks and, if needed, take action in response to sump pump water discharge testing results. Planning commission approved this site plan in a vote of 8-0.
PH-4/B-3 (19-1209) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Zoning of 1.19 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single-Family Dwelling District), Erb-Downward/Picazo Property, 2705 Newport Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-25)
A recently annexed township island at 2705 Newport Road will be zoned R1A (Single-Family Dwelling district). The proposed zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.
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 (19-1087) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.15 (Table 5-15), 5.17.3, 5.17.5 (Table 5:17-5), and Section 5.37.2 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Permitted Use Table, Parkland Donations, Dimensional Standards Table, Front Lot Line)
This is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (19-1186) 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 Ann Arbor, Rezoning of 0.2 Acre from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to C1A (Campus Business District) WITH CONDITIONS, The Garnet Rezoning, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.
B-3 (19-1209) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Zoning of 1.19 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single-Family Dwelling District), Erb-Downward/Picazo Property, 2705 Newport Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-25)
This is the same as PH-4 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 (19-1448) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.54 Acre from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), The Glen Mixed Use Development PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 201, 213, 215, 217 Glen Avenue and 1025 East Ann Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Changes are proposed for a previously approved PUD (Planned Unit Development District) at 201, 213, 215, 217 Glen Avenue and 1025 East Ann Street. The PUD approved in 2017 allows for a 9-story, 162 room hotel with 24 apartments, restaurant, and 5,181 square feet of retail. Necessary foundation work and a change in heating/cooling systems has prompted this request. The overall height of the building would increase by six inches, but remain below the 109’/4” maximum. Other requested amendments include: reduction in FAR (floor area ratio) from 590.4% to 568%, change in the mix of bicycle parking spaces by class, and removal of eleven parking spaces for a total of 241. Planning commission approved this 7-0.
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 (19-1567) Motion to Reconsider the August 5, 2019 Vote that Defeated the Resolution to Proceed with a Road Reconfiguration Pilot for Green Road, from Burbank to Plymouth Road
At the August 5th meeting, City Council voted this down (4-7); CM Ackerman (who voted against it on August 5th) is bringing it back for reconsideration. Green Road (from Burbank Drive to Plymouth Rd.) to be reconfigured to narrow lanes, reduce lanes, and create buffered bike lanes. One lane would be removed between Burbank Drive and Commonwealth Boulevard (reducing from four to three lanes). One northbound lane would be removed between Plymouth Road and Burbank Boulevard (reducing from two to one). Lanes would be narrowed between Burbank Boulevard and Plymouth Road to maintain a buffered bike lane.
DB-1 (19-1185) Resolution to Approve The Garnet Site Plan and Development Agreement, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-3 above.
This week, I’d like to draw your attention to two issues on the agenda, both of them good examples of how Council uses staff reports to inform our decision making.
Agenda item DC-1 is a reconsideration of an issue that Council voted down on August 5. A traffic reconfiguration is proposed for the intersection at Green Road and Plymouth; it is intended to increase safety by reducing and slowing car lane traffic, introducing protected bike lanes. At our last Council meeting, I raised concerns that I noted in staff reports. Ahead of the meeting, I biked to the intersection to see it for myself; the challenges I noticed from my bicycle were also identified in the staff report, which is included as an attachment to the original resolution:
Excerpts from Attachment B_Green Road Diet Memo_20190513.pdf
- The retail and office spaces have multiple driveways leading to the road segment causing less consistency with vehicle speeds. This could become a source of friction if a lane reduction where implemented.
- The abundance of retail stores surrounding the road segment ensure a high volume of freight traffic. If lanes are reduced a passenger car driver’s perceived level of comfort may be decreased.
- There are seven bus stops within the road segment. Their frequent stopping could be another source of friction.
- There is a high concentration of southbound rear-end crashes at the Plymouth Rd. intersection and CVS parking lot, which may worsen with a lane reduction.
- Nixon Road could be effected by vehicles avoiding the new lane configuration.
The characteristics listed in this report are framed in terms of the driver’s “perceived level of comfort” but I am actually more concerned about the safety of a cyclist there. I strongly support efforts to make our city safer and more accessible for people who bike. However, I do not support the installation of protected bike lanes in hazardous areas like this, with heavy freight traffic in and out of driveways; it creates a false sense of security. I understand the need for connectivity throughout our city, but we also need to think more strategically about improving alternate routes for cyclists to avoid intersections like this. As a side note, also from the staff report: the possibility of more southbound rear-end crashes at the intersection of Plymouth Rd. and the CVS parking lot seems a poor safety outcome for drivers, as well.
Another item on this week’s agenda (CA-15) is a $161,000 two-year contract for a consultant, in support of the county-wide One Community initiative to advance racial equity in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. City Council passed a resolution last summer (7/16/18), directing our city administrator to implement programs in support of the One Community initiative; the contract in CA-15 is the result of that 2018 resolution:
The contract proposed in CA-15 is for a range of services to be performed by a lead consultant charging $450 per hour, with five additional staff all earning $240 or $330 per hour. The details of this contract are difficult to judge, without context or points of comparison. The city made a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this work and in response, it received six other proposals. However, no information about those proposals (apart from the names of the companies) is included in this agenda item.
Last December, I introduced (and Council passed) a resolution requesting that all proposals like this be presented to Council with “a discussion of method by which the best value determination was made, including the criteria that support of the recommendation, a summary of any numeric scoring used in the evaluation, the resulting rank-ordering of qualified offerors, and the reasons any offerors were deemed to be non-responsive and/or non-responsible.”
I appreciate the important work related to the One Community initiative and I look forward to a thoughtful conversation Monday about best paths forward. I’m also hoping for more complete explanation of how we decided on this particular proposal from this specific consultant, where we identified shortcomings in the other six proposals. I strongly believe that we make better decisions when we have more information.
With the exception of confidential legal advice, all of the information that is available to Council Members is also available to you, via Legistar. Many items on the agenda include history: previous consideration of the issue by our city bodies (such as the One Community initiative resolution), and reports from staff (like the description of Green Road/Plymouth intersection). Additionally, Council has the opportunity— ahead of our meetings— to ask clarifying questions about each agenda item. This Q&A document is also available on Legistar. I use this information to prepare for meetings and to summarize the agenda for these newsletters. However, I encourage everyone to use my newsletters as a springboard to the primary sources— the summaries I write are meant to alert you to issues but also point you in the direction of more complete background and explanation of them on Legistar.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!