Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Ann Arbor City Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City’s Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.
This week’s Council agenda includes several big issues: a report on the recommendations for spending the ARPA funds, TC-1 rezoning of an area of Ward 4 at South State street, and PUD zoning to allow for development (including affordable housing units) at the old Y lot, across from the downtown library.
I was out and about today and bumped into a Ward 4 resident promoting a business. We had a very nice conversation and he inspired me to establish a new policy moving forward: if you are a Ward 4 resident promoting a business and you happen to bump into me on the street on the same day I am sending a newsletter, I might offer to include your business in my newsletter. See below:
Student Painters House Painting
Markus Shears is a student athlete (gymnast) at the U of M, earning a degree in Communications & Media. He is Branch Manager for Student Painters, offering exterior painting in our community. You can get a free, no obligation estimate by contacting Markus at (734) 548-4981 www.studentpainters.biz
SUPPORT MY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN
I am running for re-election to Council in 2022 and would really appreciate your generous support! I need your help to promote transparency, accountability, and serious representation for Ward 4. Our local democracy matters!
Sunday Mar 6th 3:00pm
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. This week I will be holding them on Zoom. Please email me for a link: contact@A2ELNEL.com
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday Mar 7th 7:00pm
Starting in January 2022, Council Meetings are IN PERSON at City Council chambers. Public commentary is still available via phone – see the Legistar link for details.
Winter Curbside Compost Collection This Week
The City began offering monthly winter curbside compost cart collection this year. This week (March 7-11) curbside compost cart service will be part of the usual garbage and recycling pickup.
Visit the City’s website for more information about winter composting:
Regular weekly compost pickup will resume on Monday, April 4th.
South Main Street Reconfiguration Survey
As part of the 2021 Healthy Streets program, the City temporarily reconfigured South Main Street between Packard and Stadium Blvd, and is now evaluating how the pilot has performed to determine if the configuration could be made permanent.
The City has opened up a public survey to hear from those who have used this area of South Main Street as they walk, bike or drive. This survey will close on Tuesday March 21st at 5 PM.
More information about the reconfiguration is here:
A 7 minute video produced by the City about the reconfiguration is here:
I wrote about the Healthy Street 2021 program back in May 2021:
A2ELNEL.com 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.
City Council Voting Chart for Feb 22, 2022
The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.
A2Council.com Update for Feb 22, 2022
My summary of agenda items of interest from our most recent Council meeting, along with articles I’ve written, articles published on MLive, links to Legistar, and CTN’s YouTube video.
Picking & Choosing Contractors
Picking and choosing vendors at the Council table – outside of a formal bidding process – is not a strategy I will ever support.
AAPD Community Meetings in April
The Ann Arbor Police Department will be hosting “Access to AAPD Internal Affairs” community meetings via Zoom in April. The meeting for Wards 1&5 is scheduled for April 5th, and the meeting for Wards 2,3,4 is scheduled for April 7th.
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.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday Mar 7, 2022 7:00pm
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:
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-2 (22-0441) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – March 7, 2022
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 (22-0331) Appointments – Confirmations
This appointment from the Mayor was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Christopher Madigan – Zoning Board of Appeals
MC-2 (22-0459) Resolution to Appoint Cherish Smith to the Energy Commission (7 Votes Required)
This appointment from the Mayor being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the nominee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor.
- Cherish Smith – Energy Commission
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 (22-0379) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for Fool Moon – Friday, April 3, 2020
CA-2 (22-0380) Resolution to Approve the Closing of Monroe and Tappan Streets for the Annual Monroe Street Fair, Saturday, April 2, 2022
CA-3 (22-0377) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for FestiFools Parade – Sunday, April 3, 2022
CA-4 (22-0365) Resolution to Approve a General Services Agreement with The Davey Tree Expert Company in the amount of $450,000.00 for Park Tree Care (ITB No. 4697)
CA-5 (22-0364) Resolution to Approve Amendment No.2 to the Tyler Technology Agreements for Land Management and Permitting Software, Amend the FY21 Budget and Appropriate Necessary Funds ($68,342) (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (22-0388) Resolution Establishing Ann Arbor Industrial Development District 2021-001 – Five Lots including 3874 Research Park Drive
CA-7 (22-0213) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Longman-Fairview (Jackson-Dexter) ($50,000.00)
CA-8 (22-0239) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Northside Avenue ($12,000.00)
CA-9 (22-0280) Resolution to Approve the Appropriation of $30,177.39 from the General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance for the Design and Cost Estimating of an East-West Pathway under the East Medical Center Drive Bridge (8 Votes Required)
CA-10 (22-0306) Resolution to Approve Amendment Number 1 to Professional Services Agreement between Ann Arbor Architects Collaborative, Inc and the City of Ann Arbor for Professional Architectural / Engineering Services for New Fire Station RFP NO. #20-29 ($67,200.00)
CA-11 (22-0322) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with Dawn, Inc., d/b/a Dawn Farm, to Provide Drug Abuse Counseling and Rehabilitative Services to Sobriety Court, Veterans Treatment Court, and Mental Health Treatment Court Participants ($118,890.00)
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 (22-0281) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 18 (Employees Retirement System), Section 1:605, Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor To Allow Forfeitures to Cover Reasonable Administrative Expenses (ORD-22-02)
This amendment would add a provision to the City’s Employee Retirement Fund ordinance for employees who separate from the City before benefits are fully vested. Currently, retirement funds that are forfeited (due to early separation) can be used to offset City contributions to the Dual Retirement Plan. This amendment permits those forfeited funds to also pay reasonable Plan administrative expenses.
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 (22-0281) 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 “first reading”. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting (“second reading”), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (22-0269) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.8 Acre from D1 (Downtown Core) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), 350 S. Fifth Planned Unit Development (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The .8 acre parcel at 350 S. Fifth will be rezoned from D1 (Downtown Core) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District). This PUD allows for more height (up to 275 feet) and lifts requirements for driveway width, building frontage, and street trees along Fourth and Fifth Avenue right of ways. No parking will be required. In exchange, a minimum of 100 (40% of total) residential dwellings will be affordable dwelling units, property will be allocated for Blake Transit Center expansion, there will be no curb cut on William, and the building will be fully electrified.
C-2 (22-0346) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 68 Lots in the South State Street and East/West Eisenhower Parkway Area to TC1 (Transit Corridor District), City-Initiated Rezoning, (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Sixty-eight lots in the South State and East/West Eisenhower area, including Boardwalk Drive and Victors Way will be rezoned TC-1. This new zoning district (Transit Corridor district) will permit unlimited density, create height minimums except where adjacent to pre-existing residential areas, establish maximum (rather than minimum) parking requirements, require mixed use, eliminate any open space requirements, eliminate side and rear setback requirements except where adjacent to pre-existing residential areas, and implement as yet undetermined incentives for sustainability, affordability, and public open space.
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 (22-0099) Resolution Concerning the Need for Reliability Improvements and Technical Upgrades for DTE Streetlights
City staff is directed to testify to the state Public Service Commission on the reliability of streetlights in the City of Ann Arbor. City staff will intervene in the next DTE Electric Rate case to share our interest in shorter restoration times in general, increased and rapid financial penalties for streetlight outages, the ability of cities to prioritize outages (for instance accelerate restoration in highly-trafficked areas or on school walk routes), and technology improvements that can result in greater compliance with sustainability and safety initiatives. Staff will share these concerns and advocate for enforceable, concrete steps that will improve reliability, safety, and efficiency of the streetlights in the City.
DC-2 (22-0118) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to E.T. Mackenzie Company for the Third & Mosley Water Main and Resurfacing Project ($1,299,999.25) (ITB No. 4702)
A $1,299,999.25 construction contract with E.T. McKenzie for replacement of a water main, street surfacing, and construction of curbs, gutters, and sidewalk ramps as part of the Third and Mosley Water Main and Resurfacing Project. This is postponed from the 2/22/22 meeting, I wrote about it here: https://www.a2elnel.com/post/picking-choosing-contractors
DC-3 (22-0045) Resolution to Appoint Sarah Mason as Representative and Molly Maciejewski as Alternate to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (7 Votes Required)
This is a resolution to appoint Sarah Mason (City of Ann Arbor Resource Recovery Manager) and Molly Maciejewski (City of Ann Arbor Public Works Manager) to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (WRRMA). This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Sarah Mason – WRRMA (Representative)
- Molly Maciejewski – WRRMA (Alternate)
DC-4 (22-0390) Resolution to Appoint Kevin McDonald as Interim City Attorney
Current City Attorney Stephen Postema will retire on March 11, 2022, with successor City Attorney Atleen Kaur scheduled to begin on April 11, 2022. Chief Deputy City Attorney Kevin McDonald will be appointed Interim City Attorney from March 12 until April 10, 2022. Mr McDonald will be paid the current salary for the City Attorney while he serves as Interim City Attorney.
Several items on this week’s agenda illustrate how much our local government can and should reflect the values and priorities of residents. Last month, the City surveyed residents and held meetings to discuss best use of federal ARPA funds; staff interpretation of those survey results are presented this week. I am told that Council will vote on final recommendations at our next meeting. Council members are ultimately accountable to you, the residents, when we make these choices.
Approval of agenda items C-1 and C-2 will prompt big changes in our urban landscape, in support of broad community goals. Item C-1 will allow for the development of affordable housing units as part of a larger development at the currently vacant lot on the corner of William and Fifth. Item C-2 will rezone a large area of Ward 4 adjacent to (but not including) Briarwood Mall, to TC-1 (Transit Corridor) in order to promote dense, walkable development with reduced setbacks and less parking. Again, Council is accountable to you in making decisions like these and, hopefully, achieving community goals.
I took advantage of the lovely weather this afternoon by taking a bike ride across the Stadium bridge to the eastern half of Ward 4. It was wonderful to be out in warmer temperatures, talking to people who were also out and about! These last two years have been particularly challenging, I think, in all the opportunities we have missed, avoiding in person meetings. We lost many of the spontaneous introductions that happen in crowded places and lost many of the friendly side-conversations that happen at organized gatherings. I really enjoy the connections we can make face to face, talking to one another. The online world is not the best environment for connecting with each other; social media often brings out the worst in everyone.
I biked over the bridge today because this week, a resident reached out to me to share a rumor he had heard about potential changes at the George on Packard. I made some inquiries of City staff and got some information that might be of interest to Ward 4 neighbors near there.
Since my election, many residents have reached out to me with curiosity about what, if anything, might ever fill the retail space on the first floor of the George apartment building. Many residents still remember all the neighborhood amenities that were lost when the Georgetown strip mall went under: a grocery store and other useful shops that were within walking distance of many neighbors. I am told that new owners of the George have inquired about converting the empty first floor retail space into additional housing units. The space could accommodate over 40 housing units.
I asked City staff how that conversion might happen, what the administrative process would look like. The answer: there was no mixed use (commercial) requirement as part of the original approval, so it would only require submittal of a site plan for review by the Planning Commission. Because it is less than 80 units of housing, it would qualify for Type 2 Citizen Participation, which means that property owners within 500 feet would be notified when the site plan is submitted. Property owners within 300 feet would receive notice of the hearing at Planning Commission.
The notification ranges of 500 feet and 300 feet are very small and I believe more people would like to participate in this process. Talking to neighbors today – many of whom live more than 500 feet away – I heard several suggestions for what might be helpful as part of any site plan revision, e.g. improvements to a fence and maintenance of a dog park area. These may seem like small issues but they matter a lot to the people who live nearby and see it every day. I will continue to follow what may or may not happen at the George and I will do my best to keep you informed.
My conversations today reminded me of why I ran for Council in 2018 and why I still believe that this level of government matters so much. I am grateful for every reader of this newsletter— your interest and engagement in our local government is important!
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!