This week’s Ann Arbor City Council meeting includes a fairly long consent agenda plus a fairly short regular agenda. As we anticipate the season for 5K runs and summer festivals, the consent agenda is starting to fill with street closures again (five this week!). Our regular agenda has some postponed old business (Historic Entertainment Sound District, Request for EPA Involvement in the Gelman Site) and new business (eliminating on-street parking on Barton Drive, Amendments to the Environmental Commission).
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.
CM Eaton has asked me to help publicize that his Ward 4 coffee hours this week are CANCELLED, due to events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day. CM Eaton’s coffee hours happen regularly on the Monday morning before each Council meeting; his next coffee hours (at RoosRoast on Rosewood) will be Monday, Feb 3rd 8:00-9:30AM.
Dementia Friendly Communities
Since our last meeting, I attended a luncheon on the topic of “Dementia Friendly Communities.” I suspect that most of us have family experience with this illness or at least know someone who has lived with it. This topic was of interest to me because my grandmother struggled for some time (living alone) with dementia before getting the support she needed. My father-in-law also suffered with dementia for several years, and earlier this week passed away from complications due to dementia. Fortunately, he had strong support from his loving wife of 52 years, his children, and numerous other friends and family.
There are free education and training resources available for a community like ours to become more supportive of people with dementia — Grand Rapids and Saline have already taken steps in training their city staff and proclaiming themselves a “dementia friendly community.” For more information visit:
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 Jan 19 (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)
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)
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 Jan 6, 2020
Short Term Rental remarks from Jan 6, 2020 Council meeting
I transcribed the remarks I made about short term rentals during the Jan 6th Council meeting.
Updated Site Plan for 950 Greene St (151 E Hoover)
An updated site plan was filed with the City because two landmark trees were damaged during construction and are proposed to be replaced by planting an additional 25 trees on-site.
2111 Packard Redevelopment Public Meeting Jan 22nd
Jackson Dearborn Partners is holding a public meeting about a proposed neighborhood mixed-use development.
Dicken Drive Turnaround public meeting Jan 23rd
The City is holding a public meeting on the possible construction of a turnaround for solid waste trucks and snow plows at the north end of Dicken Drive by the entrance to Dicken Woods.
Mid-Block Crosswalk Survey open until Jan 27th
The City has posted a brief online survey about mid-block crosswalks.
Scio Church Improvements Public Meeting Jan 29th
Notice of a public meeting was mailed to nearby residents about the Scio Church improvements project tentatively scheduled for April through November 2021.
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 Jan 21, 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 (20-0139) January 21, 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 Mayoral nominations to Boards and Commissions this meeting.
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 (19-2055) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with Vertiv Corporation for Preventative Maintenance Services for UPS and HVAC Systems for the City of Ann Arbor Data Centers ($48,598.00) State of Michigan MIDeal State Contract Number 171-180000001133
CA-2 (20-0054) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the Ann Arbor Downtown Jazz Festival on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 7:00 PM to Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 9:00 PM
CA-3 (19-2339) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the University of Michigan Trail to the Victors 5K (aka Big House 5K) on Sunday, April 19, 2020
CA-4 (20-0050) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run on Sunday, May 31, 2020
CA-5 (20-0052) Resolution to Close Streets for the 20th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair, Friday, June 12, 2020
CA-6 (20-0055) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K Run/Walk – Sunday, March 15, 2020
CA-7 (19-2414) Resolution to Approve Golf Cart Lease Agreement with CCB’s, LLC, DBA Golf Cars Plus ($68,904.00 annually)
CA-8 (19-2412) Resolution to Approve Onboarding Supplement to the Agreement with Ultimate Software Group, Inc.
CA-9 (20-0053) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at 3853 Research Park Drive from Stellar Ann Arbor 3 LLC (8 Votes Required)
CA-10 (19-2277) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Güd Marketing for Utilities Outreach and Engagement Support ($150,000.00/year)
CA-11 (19-2409) Resolution to Appropriate $35,000.00 from the General Fund and Approve a Professional Services Agreement with SmithGroup for Treeline Alignment Study (RFP #19-21, $74,850.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-12 (19-2408) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate a $50,000.00 Connecting Communities Grant Award from Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission for Treeline Alignment Study (8 Votes Required)
CA-13 (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)
CA-14 (19-2306) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 2 to Contract with HDR Michigan, Inc. for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Area Odor Study, RFP No. 18-26 ($34,349.00)
CA-15 (19-2368) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Utilities Instrumentation Service, Inc. for Electrical Preventive Maintenance at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, ITB No. 4605 ($143,747.00)
CA-16 (19-2391) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 4 for the Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Michigan, Inc., for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($150,000.00)
CA-17 (19-2312) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Spalding DeDecker, Inc. for Construction Inspection Services ($400,000.00)
CA-18 (19-2313) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Wolverine Engineers & Surveyors, Inc. for Construction Inspection Services ($250,000.00)
CA-19 (19-2365) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. for $300,000.00; Wade Trim Associates, Inc. for $400,000.00; and Stantec Consulting Michigan, Inc. for $400,000.00 for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services
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.
There are no public hearings at this Council meeting.
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 at this Council meeting.
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 (19-2340) An Ordinance to Add a New Chapter 122 (Historic Entertainment Sound District) to Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
(Postponed from 12/16/19)
A Historic Entertainment Sound District would be established in an area bounded by Huron Street, the alley east of Main Street, William Street, and the railroad line west of First Street. This district is defined by mixed uses of properties in close proximity to one another, where people occupying premises must reasonably expect a greater likelihood of audible sounds than people residing in other districts. Within the district, allowable maximum sound levels would be prescribed specifically by decibel level and time of day. The proposed standards are deemed to be consistent with the sound levels that currently exist and have existed historically. (In answer to questions, I was told that this area registered 31 total noise complaints in 2019.)
C-2 (20-0097) An Ordinance to Amend Section 1:237 of Chapter 8 (Organization of Boards and Commissions) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
The Bylaws for the Environmental Commission would be amended to expand membership. Two youth members (aged 14-25) would be nominated by Council Members serving on the commission and appointed by resolution for one-year terms.
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 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 (20-0069) Resolution in Support of the Governor’s Initiative to Create a Regional Mobility Corridor
The City Administrator would be directed to execute a Memorandum of Agreement with regional stakeholders to establish a Mobility Corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor as a live testing environment for autonomous, connected, electric, and shared mobility. The corridor would support built and digital infrastructure, including but not limited to Michigan Avenue, Washtenaw Avenue, and Huron Street. A Working Group of state agencies, regional and local jurisdictions, educations and non-profit institutions, and private industry would pursue goals without expectation of new public funding.
DC-3 (20-0070) Resolution to Approve a Request from SZR North Ann Arbor Senior Living, LLC for a New Continuing Care Retirement Center Liquor License, Issued Under MCL 436.1545(b)(ii) to be Located at 1901 Plymouth Road, d/b/a Atria Park of Ann Arbor
A continuing care retirement center at 1901 Plymouth Road requests a liquor license. The Police, Planning and Development, Treasurer, Fire Services, and the Council Liquor License Review Committee approved the application.
DC-4 (20-0118) Resolution to Authorize Settlement of Mateo v. Fingerle and the City of Ann Arbor, 22nd Circuit Court, Case No. 2018-1114-CH
The City accepts revised boundary descriptions (and will revise tax parcel descriptions) as part of a consent order to settle a lawsuit between two private landowners. There is no cost to the City and revised descriptions will be reviewed and approved by the City Assessor.
DS-1 (19-2079) Resolution to Prohibit On-Street Parking on Both Sides of Barton Drive from Longshore Drive to Pontiac Trail
On-street parking would be prohibited on both sides of Barton Drive between Longshore Drive and Pontiac Trail. This design plan is incorporated into the Barton Drive Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing project in order to improve the vehicular, pedestrian and bicycling environment. Among other improvements, bike lanes would be added to both side of Barton Drive between Longshore and Pontiac Trail.
DS-2 (19-2346) Resolution to Approve November 21, 2019 Recommendations of the Board of Insurance Administration
Recommendations from the Board of Insurance Administration would be accepted, specifically the decision to deny a claim in excess of $10,000 for sewer backup. Note: I sit on the Board of Insurance with CM Jane Lumm; we see all the information gathered in the process of considering each claim. Our staff have very precise data about where and when public work is conducted in the City and this data is regularly referenced in our Board meetings. E.g. Staff can tell us exactly what was done where and when, also which city vehicle was driving down which street and in what direction at what time. Details around specific claims, investigations, and findings of fact are not public information, but as I tell everyone: the Board of Insurance takes its responsibility seriously and carefully considers the totality of circumstances in each claim. The particular situation at issue here was thoroughly investigated and the Insurance Board found that the facts did not support the claim.
DS-3 (20-0004) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order with DTE Energy (DTE) to Conduct Initial Engineering and Distribution Studies Regarding A Potential Solar Energy Facility On and Surrounding the Ann Arbor Landfill (not to exceed $90,000)
The former landfill (an area abutting the Wheeler Center) has been identified as a location for a large solar installation. The Michigan Public Service Commission considers the City a “solar developer” and requires us to follow procedures for submitting an interconnection application. This purchase order is for an Engineering Review Form and fee to cover the costs of a preliminary engineering review, as well as a distribution study and associated fees. The results will determine whether or not we move forward with solar installation, decide to join another (MISO) network, or terminate the project. Funds for this project are coming from the Sustainability and Innovations Department FY2020 budget.
This past Thursday night, all of City Council and other local governmental representatives attended a public forum on the topic of the Gelman Plume. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell arranged this meeting so that we could engage with staff from the federal EPA, state level EGLE, and the Michigan state attorneys office all at once. We asked a lot of questions about the standards and cleanup imposed by the EPA, as well as the process of requesting that federal assistance, i.e. making the Gelman plume a “Superfund” site. An item on this week’s agenda (postponed for many weeks) is a resolution to request federal assistance, via “SuperFund” site designation.
What we learned: the process of becoming a SuperFund site is long and the work of the EPA is slow, deliberate, and (once begun) ongoing. Most relevant to concerns I have heard about this issue: during any interim period of EPA process and study, the state would continue to enforce the existing consent judgement. Though EPA intervention is not an immediate solution, state regulators assure us that mitigation efforts in place right now (e.g. monitoring wells, regular pumping-and-treatment of water) would continue.
I heard one of my colleagues claim that residents have unrealistic expectations, that residents believe the EPA would perform ‘magic.’ I disagree with this demeaning assessment of our residents (many of whom have scientific expertise, and have invested time in educating themselves on this issue) as well as the oversimplification of the issue, generally. Our community has a lot to consider in weighing the value of EPA involvement against the option of direct negotiation with the polluter. The EPA this week emphasized the need for significant data in order to understand the problem fully before crafting solutions. That, in particular, was very reassuring to me.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!