This week on Ann Arbor City Council, we have a particularly long agenda up for discussion that include four public hearings, four first-readings of ordinance amendments, and some new/unfinished business to consider affordable housing issues.
Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours today (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!
The public is invited to a Council Caucus this Sunday, March 17th. Directions will be posted on the exterior doors of City Hall.
Sunday Mar 17th (7:00-9:00 PM)
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:
Seventh/Stadium and Seventh/Scio Church Intersections
This past week, residents met with city staff to talk about recent changes to the intersections of Seventh/Stadium and Seventh/Scio Church. I thank city staff for their work in preparing for this meeting with visual presentations and feedback forms. Our city is lucky to have such a strong team of professionals that is willing to spend those extra evening hours with the community, answering questions and hearing resident concerns. Thank you to all residents who came out to share your views about how to make these intersections safer!
In addition to the meeting mentioned above, the City has an online survey about these intersections which is open until Monday March 18th at 9am.
Ward Talk on CTN
Last week I participated in the CTN show WARD TALK with Bonnie Gabowitz. It was a fun time (Bonnie is a former Ward 4 resident and great host).
You can watch the show on CTN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/rQ_lJ2fFyEc
In addition to writing this newsletter, I post regular 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. I occasionally .
Below are links to stories I posted since the previous newsletter, and posts about meetings coming up in the next two weeks. You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/
City Council News
Council Caucus on Sunday nights
City Council Voting Chart for Mar 4, 2019
Ward 4 News/City News
Mar 21st Scio Church Traffic Calming meeting
Mar 21st Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum
April 8th meeting about Water Treatment Plant UV Disinfection System Project
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:
Volunteer Boards and Commissions Membership on these 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)
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.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday March 18, 2019 7:00pm
The full agenda in PDF format (along with links to each proposed ordinance/resolution) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website here:
If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me.
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 (19-0132) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.77 Acres from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Malletts Wood 1 & 2 PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3300 Cardinal Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-04)
A property at 3300 Cardinal Avenue (east of Mary Beth Doyle park) would be zoned single-family. This ordinance would rezone the 3.77 acre site from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to R1E (Single-Family Dwelling District) to allow development of single-family detached homes.
PH-2/DB-2 (19-0379) Resolution to Approve Malletts Wood 2 Amended PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 3300 Cardinal Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A site plan would construct 19 single-family detached condominium dwelling units on Cardinal Drive and Sharon Court (a new public road) on a 3.77 acre parcel. Each unit will be no more than 2000 square feet in floor area.
PH-3/DB-1 (19-0310) Resolution to Approve the Durling Annexation, 0.106 Acre, South Side of Valley Drive, West of Dexter Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A property in Scio township (south side of Valley Drive and West of Dexter Road) would be annexed into the city. Current use is consistent with adjacent zoning, land uses and master plan.
PH-4/C-1 (19-0163) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.52 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3365 Jackson Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nays)
A property at 3365 Jackson Road (overlooking Dolph Park) would be granted PUD zoning to permit a 106,245 square foot, 95 unit senior living facility with 65 parking places. This would be a rezoning of 3.52 Acres that are currently R1C (Single-Family Residential District). It was approved 6-1 by the Planning Commission.
B-1 (19-0132) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.77 Acres from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Malletts Wood 1 & 2 PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3300 Cardinal Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-04)
This is the same as PH-1 above
C-1 (19-0163) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.52 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3365 Jackson Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nays)
This is the same as PH-4 above
C-2 (19-0275) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.6 Acre from C2B (Business Service District) to R2A (Two-Family Dwelling District), including 606, 610, 614, 616, 618, 622, and 628 South Ashley Street (CPC Recommendation: Denial – 0 Yeas and 8 Nays)
An area of .6 acres that includes 606, 610, 614, 616, 618, 622, and 628 South Ashley Street will be re-zoned from C2B (Business Service District) to R2A (Two-Family Dwelling District). This is to discourage commercial use and maintain existing scale and character, as directed by City Council resolution from 9/4/18 (sponsored by CM Chip Smith). The Planning Commission recommended denial (0-8)
C-3 (19-0343) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 58 Lots from R4C (Multiple-Family Dwelling District) to R1D (Single Family Dwelling District) and 4 Lots from R4C (Multiple-Family Dwelling District) to R1E (Single Family Dwelling District), West Hoover Avenue/West Davis Avenue Area Rezoning, (CPC Recommendation: Denial – 5 Yeas and 3 Nays)
This would rezone 62 lots on Edgewood Place, W. Hoover, W. Davis, Wilder Place, and Myron Court to protect the existing lower-density development west of Main Street, in compliance with the Master Plan. This is to discourage commercial use and maintain existing scale and character, as directed by City Council resolution from 9/4/18 (sponsored by CM Chip Smith). City staff’s plan would rezone most (58) of the lots to R1D, rezone four lots to R1E, and keep the remaining eight lots zoned R4C. The Planning Commission recommended denial (5-3)
C-4 (19-0465) An Ordinance to Amend Title VI (Food and Health) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor by Adding a New Chapter 73 (Two-Cycle Power Equipment)
The use of two-cycle power equipment would be banned within the Downtown Development Authority area of the city. This refers mostly to landscaping equipment that is used to blow leaves and debris, collect leaves and debris, and trim hedges and bushes.
C-5 (19-0552) An Ordinance to Amend Section 10:148 of Chapter 126 (Traffic) of Title X of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
An amendment to our crosswalk law would reduce ambiguity, improving communication between the driver approaching a crosswalk and the pedestrian trying to cross. I have brought this resolution to bring our crosswalk law into compliance with best practices currently being adopted by other communities.
DC-1 (18-2100) Resolution to Amend the Old West Side Residential Parking District – West Mosley Street and Appropriate General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance ($1,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
An existing residential parking district will be expanded to include a stretch of Mosley Street at 309-415. The City will spend $1000 installing signs and expects additional annual revenue of $450 from new residential permit fees. The Old West Side Association supports the change.
DC-2 (19-0406) Resolution to Appoint Members to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (7 Votes Required)
Eleven people have been nominated to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, including four non-residents.
DC-3 (19-0300) Resolution to Amend Council Rules 1, 5B, 5D, 5E, 5F, and 7
The most significant proposed changes would adjust the timeline of Council’s preparation for meetings by shifting the planning timeline earlier for staff. I explained the current timeline on my website:
The proposed rules change would set the agenda earlier, giving Council the same amount of time to submit questions, but a full weekend (rather than a couple hours) to read responses to those questions. An addition to public speaking rules clarifies that council members and staff will not be interrupted and the public may not disrupt a council meeting.
DC-4 (19-0449) Resolution to Increase the Benefit and Use of the Downtown Affordable Housing Premium
The planning commission would be directed to consider policies that would offer more premiums to real estate developers willing to create affordable housing downtown.
DC-5 (19-0451) Resolution to Pursue Affordable Housing at 721 N. Main
This directs the City Administrator to consider a future development of the city owned property at 721 N. Main Street under the terms of a “land lease” and ensure that it would include some affordable housing. Any potential developer would include a mix of unit types and rent levels.
DC-6 (19-0450) Resolution to Pursue Affordable Housing at 2000 S. Industrial
This directs the City Administrator to consider a future development of the city owned property at 1000 S. Industrial under the terms of a “land lease” and ensure that it would include some affordable housing. Any potential developer would include a mix of unit types and rent levels and office space for the Ann Arbor Housing Commission.
DC-7 (19-0528) Resolution to Direct the City Administrator to Study Potential Regulation of Short-term Rentals
The city administrator will report on the feasibility of regulating short-term rentals (“AirBnB”) in the city of Ann Arbor for the purpose of preserving our supply of year-round housing and protecting the character of our year-round resident neighborhoods. The report will consider peer cities and possible distinctions between partial or whole home/unit categories (e.g. those properties occupied primarily by year-round owners/renters and properties occupied primarily by short-term renters).
DC-8 (19-0529) Resolution to Support City of Ann Arbor Flying the Transgender Flag on International Transgender Day of Visibility – March 31
March 31 will be recognized as International Transgender Day of Visibility by flying the transgender flag at Larcom City Hall.
DC-9 (19-0475) Resolution to Approve Agreements with 115 Depot, LLC and 201 Depot L.L.C. for Storm Water, Sidewalk and Temporary Construction Easements at 115 and 201 Depot Street for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project (8 Votes Required)
The entity of 115 Depot, LLC will grant the city Storm Water and Sidewalk easements for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project.
DC-10 (19-0469) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with DTE Gas Company for Storm Water and Sidewalk Easements and a Temporary Construction Permit at 841 Broadway for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project (8 Votes Required)
DTE will grant the city Storm Water and Sidewalk easements for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project.
DC-11 (19-0531) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Evaluate Use of 1510 E. Stadium Boulevard for Redevelopment as an Ann Arbor Housing Commission Affordable Housing Location
The city administrator will develop plans for affordable housing that would remain in city ownership and be managed by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, at the city owned property at 1510 E. Stadium Boulevard. The Fire Department Master Plan anticipates the sale of this property.
DC-12 (19-0524) Resolution to Approve Change of Route and Closed Streets for the 2019 Ann Arbor Marathon on Sunday, March 24, 2019
The route of the Ann Arbor Marathon (scheduled for 3/24/19) has been changed to address residential neighborhood concerns.
DC-13 (19-0553) Resolution to Implement Pedestrian Safety Improvements at the Fuller Road Crosswalk at Huron High School
The Fuller Road crosswalk at Huron High School will be improved by widening Fuller Road and establishing a pedestrian refuge island at the existing crosswalk location
DC-14 (19-0554) Resolution to Utilize Sale Proceeds of “Old Fire Station 2” to Fund the Implementation of the Fire Station Master Plan
The city administrator is directed to explore options to sell the property at 1510 E. Stadium Boulevard under terms that would include some affordable housing units. The Fire Department Master Plan anticipates the sale of this property.
DB-1 (19-0310) Resolution to Approve the Durling Annexation, 0.106 Acre, South Side of Valley Drive, West of Dexter Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-3 above
DB-2 (19-0379) Resolution to Approve Malletts Wood 2 Amended PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 3300 Cardinal Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above
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.
Since the last meeting, I have mostly received email on the topic of local Ward 4 concerns re: extremely disruptive DTE work in lower Burns Park and anticipated plans for a marathon route (and early morning beer tent!) off South Main Street.
Unfortunately, the city does not have much power or influence over the day-to-day doings of DTE, but complaints can be directed to:
Regional Manager – Corporate and Governmental Affairs
Upcoming marathon plans seem to have been adjusted to the satisfaction of neighbors. Moving forward, I’d like the city to generate reasonable policies for advance notice and neighborhood engagement ahead of street closures and public events that include alcohol.
This week’s agenda is very full. I am bringing two resolutions that reflect concerns I heard during my campaign last summer. First, I am asking city staff to study and report back to Council on potential regulation of short-term rentals (AirBnB’s). Council and staff are aware of concerns but we need a formal assessment and consideration of options. Secondly, I’m bringing an amendment to our crosswalk law, to hopefully improve the non-verbal communication that happens between a driver and a pedestrian. For the purpose of preventing accidents, drivers need to be able to recognize the difference between a pedestrian simply standing on the sidewalk (or waiting for a bus) and a pedestrian trying to cross the road.
Behind the scenes and outside of public meetings, affordable housing has been a huge topic of conversation among council and staff. Before and after my election, I had multiple meetings with Jennifer Hall, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, to hear her take on options and strategies. In a recent meeting with Fire Chief Mike Kennedy and City Administrator Howard Lazarus, I was also alerted to the potential for affordable housing development at the soon-to-be-taken-offline fire station at Packard and Stadium.
Our Housing Commission actually has identified a list of ten publicly owned properties (including the fire station, the site at Industrial, and at North Main) that could be developed for affordable housing. I am new to council, so my expectation had been that the city would evaluate, prioritize, and carefully assess the pros/cons of this whole list of ten. Instead, CM Ackerman has highlighted just two of them (Industrial and N. Main).
It surprises me that we would not be looking at the whole list in a more comprehensive way, but I also realize that suggesting a step back for such an analysis would, at this point, probably prompt accusations of being obstructionist. (This is, unfortunately, where we are in the current political climate.) I agree that the two properties at Industrial and N. Main are well situated for residents of affordable housing to have easy access to city shopping, jobs, and services. Based on recent conversations with the City Administrator and our Fire Chief, I am happy to propose a third location (the old fire station) that would have similar advantages for residents of affordable housing.
I hope that a majority on council can muster support for all three properties, as I see all three locations as consistent with city goals for equity and sustainability. I hope, also, that City Council can get more information about the other seven properties identified by our Housing Commission. I look forward to lively debate at the council table about how our city can best support affordable housing options; I’m particularly interested in discussing the merits of retaining local control versus negotiating with private developers for subsidy.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!