Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (February 29, 2020)

Feb 29, 2020 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

This week’s Ann Arbor City Council meeting has a fairly short agenda. Agenda items include a rezoning, appointments, a public hearing for The Standard (405 South Main Street), and plans resolving issues related to the position of City Administrator and our Police Chief.

For those of you who regularly visit my coffee hours (or anyone who might be considering it), I will be at 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 Mar 1 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 Mar 1 (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:

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 18, 2020

Statement Regarding Separation Agreement with City Administrator
My statement on the separation agreement with City Administrator Howard Lazarus

A2Zero Planning Phase 3 Kicks Off with Survey Launch
A2Zero is entering the third planning stage, to explore how the entire community can fully implement the actions needed to become carbon neutral by 2030

2111 Packard Redevelopment Public Meeting Mar 12th
A second public meeting about the redevelopment of 2111 Packard will be held Mar 12th

City Clerk’s Office Announces Weekend Hours for Voter Registration/Absentee Ballots
The City Clerk’s office will be open Saturday Feb 29 and Saturday Mar 7 to handle voter registration and absentee ballots.

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
Monday Mar 2, 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-5 (20-0369) Agenda Response Memo and eComments
This item was added to Legistar on Mar 2, 2020
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
These Mayoral appointments were introduced at the previous Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Anne Harlow – Board of Review
  • Judah Garber – Human Rights Commission

MC-2 (20-0353) Nominations & Appointments for March 2, 2020
These Mayoral appointments are introduced at this Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Bret Hautamaki – Transportation Commission

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 (20-0320) Resolution to Approve the Closing of Monroe and Tappan Streets for the 19th Annual Monroe Street Fair, Saturday, April 4, 2020

CA-2 (20-0322) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for Fool Moon – Friday, April 3, 2020

CA-3 (20-0324) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for FestiFools Parade – Sunday, April 5, 2020

CA-4 (20-0231) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order and Master Service Agreement with CenturyLink Communications, LLC for Managed SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) Trunking ($25,448.54)

CA-5 (20-0329) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Local 693 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (Ann Arbor Firefighters Union) effective January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2024

CA-6 (20-0330) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Police Deputy Chiefs, Teamsters Local 214, effective January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2021

CA-7 (20-0164) Resolution to Extend the Contract with Doan Construction Company for the 2020 Sidewalk Repair Program ($811,524.50)

CA-8 (20-0165) Resolution to Extend the Contract with CLI Concrete Leveling, Inc. (Bid No. 4523) for the 2020 Sidewalk Repair Program ($90,350.00)

CA-9 (20-0166) Resolution to Extend the Contract with Precision Concrete, Inc. (Bid No. 4566) for the 2020 Sidewalk Repair Program ($196,001.00)

CA-10 (20-0237) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Inc. for Guardrail Construction Administration, RFP No. 978 ($12,171.00)

CA-11 (20-0190) Resolution to Approve a General Services Contract with RACM, LLC, DBA Servpro of Saginaw for As-Needed Cleaning and Sanitation Services for Sanitary and Storm Sewer Backups ITB No. 4610 ($150,000.00 for three years)

CA-12 (20-0192) Resolution to Approve an Increase to the Purchase Order with Core and Main LP for the Purchase of Utility Infrastructure Materials ($100,000.00)

CA-13 (20-0223) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the General Services Agreement for Electrical and Instrumentation Support Services with Utilities Instrumentation Service, RFP #19-23 and Appropriate Insurance Proceeds to the Filter Pipe Gallery Emergency Repairs Project Budget ($1,280,000.00) (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/DB-1 (20-0086) Resolution to Approve The Standard at Ann Arbor Site Plan and Development Agreement at 405 South Main Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A site plan and development agreement would be approved for a property (“The Standard”) at 405 South Main Street. The development will be a 10-story building consisting of 202,262 square feet, 102 parking spaces, 218 dwelling units, 421 bedrooms, 6,020 square feet of retail space. Two units would be affordable at 80% of AMI (average median income). Planning commission approved this project 9-0.

PH-2/DB-2 (20-0161) Resolution to Approve the Lohmann Annexation, 1.52 Acres, 2511 Newport Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The owners of 1.52 Acres at 2511 Newport Road have requested annexation into the city. The current use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and master plan. Council action on the proposed R1A zoning will be scheduled after the annexation.

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.

There are no ordinance second readings on the agenda.

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 (20-0244) 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)
The property at 2151 West Stadium (the parcel south of Bell’s Diner/Stadium Hardware) 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.

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
(Note: this was first presented at Council on 10/7/19, was postponed to 1/7/20, and postponed again to 1/17/20, then to 2/3/20, and now to this meeting)
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 (20-0319) Resolution to Appoint Roger Ahn to Main Street Area Business Improvement Zone Board of Directors (7 Votes Required)
This Mayoral appointment was introduced at the previous Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

  • Roger Ahn— Main Street Business Improvement Zone Board of Directors

DC-3 (20-0337) Resolution in Support of Federal Funding for the Housing and Urban Development Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing (Section 4) Program
Local organizations have asked the City to support funding of the Section 4 program, including urging Congress to provided $45 million in the FY2021 federal budget. The City would direct the City Administrator to send a letter of support to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate Subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development on behalf of City Council.

DC-4 (20-0373) Resolution to Accept Council Administration Committee Recommendation Regarding Interim City Administrator
Tom Crawford, current Financial Services Administrator for Ann Arbor, will be named Interim City Administrator for the city beginning March 2, 2020, with appropriate salary adjustments to the new position. (Mr. Crawford may elect to return to his previous position with 30 days notice to Council.)

DC-5 (20-0378) Resolution Regarding Ann Arbor Police Chief
The administrative leave for Police Chief Michael Cox will end and he returns to work on March 2, 2020. Additional recommendations and information regarding the investigation can be found here:
Update 3/2/2020: these files were also added to the Legistar link for DC-5

DB-1 (20-0086) Resolution to Approve The Standard at Ann Arbor Site Plan and Development Agreement at 405 South Main Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-1 above.

DB-2 (20-0161) Resolution to Approve the Lohmann Annexation, 1.52 Acres, 2511 Newport Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.

Additional thoughts…

Since our last meeting, there has been significant community discussion around two specific topics: the separation agreement with our City Administrator (Howard Lazarus) and the administrative leave and investigation of our Police Chief, Michael Cox.

After Council approved the separation agreement for our City Administrator, I wrote about it here:
Statement Regarding Separation Agreement with City Administrator

There continues to be some confusion around the concept of “without cause” and why the City would opt to end a contract this way, triggering payment of severance. According the City Administrator’s employment contract, any separation “with cause” requires very specific and serious misconduct (e.g. fraud, felony, sexual misconduct), none of which has occurred. As Howard Lazarus told WEMU on February 20, 2020:

“Council has the absolute right under the charter by vote of the majority of council to replace the City Administrator. Council has the right to have leadership that they feel comfortable and confident in. When they feel that they have to make that change it doesn’t have to be for anything that caused it other than they would feel that they need to make a change. That’s what the discussion was and I respect their right to do that.”

“Council has the right to make a change in leadership. People who are in City and County management know that that’s part of the business. The average tenure for a city manager is three to five years and I’m about at four… it’s kind of the nature of the business.”

This week, the city welcomes Tom Crawford into the position of interim City Administrator. Mr. Crawford has been our Chief Financial Officer since 2004 and twice previously acted as interim City Administrator. I look forward to working with him.

On the topic of our city police chief, Michael Cox: it is worth noting that a process of complaint, administrative leave and investigation is intended to legally protect all parties. The City Attorney has advised Council not to engage in any speculation or public discussion criticizing aspects of the process as it occurred. However, members of our Independent Community Police Oversight Commission and other members of our community have raised concerns about the specific handling of this incident. Whether or not I am free to engage in it, I do hope that there is room for a broader conversation about the events of the last few weeks, particularly in the context of Independent Community Police Oversight Commission. All publicly available information on this issue — including the investigation report and response from Chief Cox — can be found here:

Update 3/2/2020: these files were also added to the Legistar link for DC-5:

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson