Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (February 15, 2020)

Feb 15, 2020 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

Among other things, this week’s Ann Arbor City Council consent agenda includes a number of capital recovery charges (water and sewer connections to residents who live in annexed township islands), resolutions related to improvements on Barton Drive, and city support for lighting at the Ann Arbor Skate Park. Our regular agenda is fairly short: two public hearings, and unfinished business related to communication and transportation.

A few weeks ago, Council Member Jack Eaton and I attended a public meeting to discuss a re-surfacing project on Scio Church that will fill sidewalk gaps and add bike lanes west of Seventh:

My family regularly bikes from our house to Pittsfield Library via this corridor, so I was excited to learn more about these improvements. At the public meeting, City staff heard from many near neighbors about concerns that need to be taken into account. You can read about the project here:

This past week, CM Eaton and I also met with city staff and county drain commission staff to discuss Lawton stormwater management. I realize this project has been under consideration for some time, that problems persist. I am encouraged that there are several options available to present to area residents. CM Eaton and I look forward to another round of community discussion about next steps. (I will keep you updated as I learn more.)

For those of you who regularly visit my coffee hours (or anyone who might be considering it), I have returned to my usual location: RoosRoast on Rosewood tomorrow (Sunday) from 3-4:30 p.m. I hope this is a convenient opportunity for us to meet in person and hear perspectives.

A2ELNEL coffee hours Feb 16 2020

Council Caucus

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!

Council Caucus
Sunday Feb 16 (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.

More Information:

  • One or more council members will be present for each caucus.
  • Children are welcome. (Books and crayons provided)

For more information about Council Caucus, see the city website at:

Central Student Government Representative Roundtable

This Tuesday, I will be joining Representative Dingell, Mayor Taylor, and other Council Members at the University of Michigan Central Student Government Roundtable.

CSG Representative Roundtable
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 (12:00 PM – 1:00 PM)
Michigan Union – Anderson Room

From the website:
Join CSG for an afternoon focused on building and strengthening our networks with key policymakers for Ann Arbor and Michigan as a whole. 

Federal Representative Debbie Dingell will hold open office hours for students to learn more about her background in politics and the nature of her position. (Note: this is from 11AM – 12PM in the CSG Office at 3011 Union)

Following that will be a representative roundtable with Dingell, Ann Arbor Mayor Chris Taylor, and city council members from Ann Arbor to discuss specific policy concerns students have. Students, faculty, and members of the community are all welcome to join. Light refreshments will be provided the entire day. (Note: this is from 12PM-1PM in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union)

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)

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:

City Council Voting Chart for Feb 3, 2020

Municipal Offices Closed for Presidents Day (Feb 17) Curbside Waste & Recycling Services Unaffected
City offices will be closed Monday, Feb 17 to observe Presidents Day – but trash and recycling pickup will NOT be affected.

Central Student Government Representative Roundtable Feb 18th
The University of Michigan Central Student Government is hosting a Roundtable discussion with Representative Dingell, Mayor Taylor, and City Council members.

Housing + Affordability Open House Feb 25th
The City will be hosting another community open house to discuss redevelopment of vacant lots at 350 S. Fifth Ave. and 415 W. Washington Street.

Sign Ordinance Update Survey open until Feb 28th (One/Two Family Residential Properties)
The City Planning Commission is seeking feedback from the community on permanent wall signs for one and two-family residential properties.

Absentee Ballot Envelopes have a New Appearance
A message from the City Clerk’s office about the new design for absentee ballots that will be issued for the Mar 10th Presidential Primary.

“I Voted” Sticker Design Contest entries due by Mar 31
The City is holding a design contest for “I Voted” stickers. Entries are due by Mar 31, with the winning stickers to be distributed at the polls during the 2020 Presidential Election in November.

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
Tuesday Feb 18, 2020 (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-4 (20-0290)  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

MC-1 (20-0268) Appointments & Nominations
This Mayoral appointment are being introduced at this Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Anne Harlow – Board of Review
  • Roger Ahn – Main Street Business Improvement Zone Board of Directors

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. 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 (20-0026) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 1015 Newport Rd. ($5,982.00)

CA-2 (20-0027) Resolution Authorizing Water Capital Recovery Charges for 1015 Newport Rd. ($2,696.00)

CA-3 (20-0028) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 2680 Geddes Ave. ($25,954.00)

CA-4 (20-0029) Resolution Authorizing Water Capital Recovery Charges for 3060 Dover Place. ($20,971.00)

CA-5 (20-0220) Resolution to Approve the Board of Insurance Administration’s January 30, 2020 Recommendations for 2020 Property and Casualty Insurance Renewals (8 Votes Required)

CA-6 (20-0067) Resolution No. 2 – Barton Drive Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing Project – Sidewalk Special Assessment District #55, Brede Place to Pontiac Trail

CA-7 (20-0068) Resolution No. 2 – Barton Drive Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing Project – Sidewalk Special Assessment District #60, Barton at Starwick

CA-8 (19-2418) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Material Testing Consultants, Inc. ($125,000.00); Testing Engineers & Consultants, Inc. ($125,000.00); Tetra Tech, Inc. ($125,000.00); CTI and Associates, Inc. ($125,000.00) and The Mannik and Smith Group, Inc. ($75,000.00) for As-Needed Geotechnical and Environmental Services

CA-9 (20-0075) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of a Vehicle from Gorno Ford (MiDeal Bid – $26,382.00)

CA-10 (20-0132) Resolution to Authorize an Increase to the Sole Source Purchase Order with DTE for Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Services ($50,000.00)

CA-11 (20-0063) Resolution to Approve the Amendment and Renewal of the City’s Contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to Provide Administrative Claims Processing Services and Related Stop-Loss Insurance Coverage Through BCS Insurance Company for the City’s Health Care Plan on Behalf of Employees and Retirees and Their Dependents, and to Authorize the City Administrator to Execute the Necessary Documentation ($1,871,851.00)

CA-12 (20-0163) Resolution to Appropriate Affordable Housing Trust Funds Without Regard to Fiscal Year for Projects Previously Approved by City Council (8 Votes Required)

CA-13 (20-0174) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Ann Arbor Marathon Running Event – Sunday, March 22, 2020

CA-14 (20-0232) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for MUSIC Matters SpringFest from 4:00 A.M. on Friday, April 17, 2020 until 10:00 P.M.

CA-15 (20-0181) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Stantec Consulting Michigan, Inc. to Provide Lighting Design Services for the Ann Arbor Skatepark ($38,913.00)

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 (20-0196) An Ordinance to Amend Section 1:171 of Chapter 8 (Organization of Boards and Commissions) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Ordinance No. ORD-20-03)
Board and commissions that include one or more Council members (as either members or liaisons) shall designate a group to review applications for membership on the board or commission. (Council members would use their access to the online directory of applications to facilitate this review, among one or more voting members of the board/commission.) This group may submit recommendations for appointments to the Mayor.

PH-2/DB-1 (20-0098) Resolution to Approve the Talpos-Knight Annexation, 1.3 Acres, 2731 Newport (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A property in Ann Arbor Township (1.3. acres at 2731 Newport) would be annexed into the City. After annexation, Planning Commission recommends that it be zoned R1A (Single Family District).

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 (20-0196) An Ordinance to Amend Section 1:171 of Chapter 8 (Organization of Boards and Commissions) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Ordinance No. ORD-20-03)
This is the same as PH-1 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.

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 (20-0193) Resolution to Establish City Council Mobility Committee
A Council Mobility Committee of five Council Members (appointed by the Mayor) would be established to consider proposed resolutions on topics of mobility policy and mobility safety initiatives. It would engage with other entities such as the Washtenaw County Commission, SEMCOG, WATS, Spark, DDA, State and Federal elected officials, MDOT, Vision Zero Network and Families for Safe Streets. Regarding issues of mobility, the council members on the Council Mobility Committee would be included in community engagement, notified in advance of all staff meetings with constituents and copied on all staff communications to constituents.

DC-2 (20-0194) Resolution for City Council Communications
The goals of this resolution are to improve collaboration, accuracy of information, and transparency in government communication. Council Members would be copied on emails containing their names and emails on topics of general policy interest would be available to all Council Members. An events calendar would be maintained to keep Council Members updated and aware of all Ward-specific community engagement meetings led by staff.  Responses to agenda questions would more specifically indicate authorship (per question).

DC-3 (20-0230) Resolution Urging the City to Compile and Disseminate Educational and Outreach Materials about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Best Practices and Turf Grass Reduction Strategies to Owners of Turf Grass within the City
The City would compile and disseminate educational and outreach materials on the topic of Integrated Pest Management, how to maintain turf grass with minimal to no use of chemicals and also how to replace some turf grass areas with diverse natural plantings. The program would include a certification program for best lawn care practices. Staff would incorporate these educational materials and resources into already existing outreach events and department communications.

DC-4 (20-0236) Resolution to Revise 2020 Council Calendar
A work session is re- scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 2020 (it was previously 10/12/20 on the calendar).

DC-5 (20-0265) Resolution to Adopt the Washtenaw Housing Alliance’s Affordable Housing Pledge
Ann Arbor would adopt the Washtenaw Housing Alliance Pledge: defining housing as a human right; valuing diverse, mixed income density in urban areas; acknowledging the role of government to preserve, acquire, and develop affordable housing; increasing access to home ownership; defending tenants rights; planning housing strategies that complement health care, education, and transportation needs.

DC-6 (20-0260) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Veterans Treatment Court Grant Agreement with the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office and Appropriate Funds ($10,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
A Veteran Treatment Court Grant Agreement would be amended to add $10,000 to the amount received. Funds will be received by the 15th Judicial District Court Veterans Treatment Court program. Under the agreement, eligible veterans receive services to address military service-related mental health disorders and substance use issues that have led them to be in the criminal justice system. The Court collaborates with Ann Arbor Veterans Administration, Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical System and other organizations to provide these services.

DC-7 (20-0298) Resolution Concerning the Reliability and Functioning of Detroit Edison Streetlights
This resolution addresses a maintenance/repair problem with streetlights: some streetlight poles in Ann Arbor are owned by the City (2,617) but most streetlight poles are owned by Detroit Edison (7,736). City fixtures are well maintained and typically repaired within 72 hours. However, sustained outages are common among DTE fixtures due to poor preventative maintenance and a lack of resources. The City Administrator is directed to give quarterly reports on street light outages and repairs (as well as ownership), explore options surrounding purchasing streetlights directly from DTE, and communicate the City Council’s concerns about DTE’s street lighting reliability to DTE Executive Leadership, the Michigan Public Service Commission, and the City’s elected delegation in the State Legislature.

DB-1 (20-0098) Resolution to Approve the Talpos-Knight Annexation, 1.3 Acres, 2731 Newport (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.

DS-1 (20-0083) Resolution to Appropriate $5,000.00 from General Fund to Fund Additional Tasks Associated with the Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update Project and to Approve an Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC ($356,670.00) (8 Votes Required)
(Postponed from Feb 3 meeting)
In response to a resolution from Council, our contract with Sam Schwartz Consulting would be amended to appropriate an additional $5,000.  The Council resolution asked for “an assessment of our pedestrian and cycling environment” but, as proposed, this contract amendment would provide for assessment of staff, job responsibilities, and peer cities. This was included in the Consent Agenda of the Jan 21, 2020 meeting and pulled for discussion. It was postponed to consider if the services requested are consistent with what Council requested.

DS-2 (20-0245) Resolution to Appropriate $21,700.00 from General Fund to Fund Additional Tasks Associated with the Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update Project and to Approve an Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC ($373,370.00) (8 Votes Required)
The contract from Sam Schwartz Consulting would be amended to appropriate an additional $21,700. The added services would provide: a technical memorandum summarizing existing infrasutructure (using existing city data); the collection of data in the field to assess the adequacy of existing infrastructure at mid-block crosswalks, school crossings, and bike routes; a report and multiple presentations of the report at commission and committee meetings.

Additional thoughts…

I’d like to draw your attention to one other newsworthy item tucked in the back of our agenda: F-4, a communication under “Clerk’s Report of Communications, Petitions, Referrals.”

This part of our agenda is not voted on, but is merely entered into the public record. Item F-4 is notice from our City Administrator to the City Clerk, regarding the administrative leave status for Police Chief Cox. Our City Charter requires that:

The City Administrator may, for good cause, suspend any officer whose appointment by the Council is required to be made upon the recommendation of the City Administrator. Within twenty-four hours after any such suspension, the City Administrator shall file with the Clerk a statement of the reasons therefor. The Council shall either remove or reinstate the officer within thirty days after the filing of the statement.

I find this communication of interest mostly because, as of this writing, Council has been given very little information about the matter. At some point soon, I look forward to a more robust discussion and analysis of the policies and procedures exercised in the last ten days.

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson