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, the Council agenda includes ten public hearings, most notably one for the City Budget. We vote on the budget later this month, but Monday’s meeting includes a public hearing for residents to share ideas and concerns. This week, 58 people are nominated to positions on Boards and Commissions (53 of these are re-appointments). Our agenda also amends the short-term-rental (STR) ordinance, re-sets fees for a number of City services and revisits Council Rules.
This week’s Consent Agenda is very long — I encourage residents to pay special attention to CA-14, the proposal for Healthy Streets 2021. There was significant confusion (and safety issues) related to the Healthy Streets program last year. I heard from many residents, concerned about how lane closures diverted unwanted traffic onto side streets. Last year, neighbors in Ward 4 expressed concerns that S. Main was particularly confusing because it looked like an inactive construction site. I am optimistic that with better planning those problems might be avoided this year.
Residents in need of financial help during this crisis (e.g. to avoid eviction, pay utility bills, cover emergency medical expenses) can find resources at this link:
Virtual Coffee Hours
Sunday May 2nd 3:00pm
During the COVID-19 crisis I have been holding “virtual” coffee hours with Zoom on Sunday afternoons before scheduled City Council meetings. Please email me for a link:
Sunday May 2nd 6:00pm
We have been holding Council Caucus on Sunday nights before Council meetings since March 2019. All Council Members are invited to participate.
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday May 3rd 7:00pm
My summary of this Council meeting agenda is posted below in this newsletter.
City Council Work Session
Monday May 10th 7:00pm
This is a work session with presentations on “Diversion and Expungement Pilot Programs” and “Ann Arbor Moving Together Towards Vision Zero: A Review of the Final Transportation Plan”
Note that Council is still meeting “virtually” using the Zoom application. Video feeds of Council meetings are broadcast on CTN and YouTube. Public comment is audio only using dial-in numbers. Please check the Legistar link for the latest information.
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.
You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/
City Council Voting Chart for Apr 19, 2021
New STREAM online permit system
The City has launched a new online permitting system STREAM, which will eventually fully replace TRAKiT\eTRAKit.
AAPD Community Zoom meeting for Wards 4&5 May 6th 6PM
The Ann Arbor Police Department will be conducting a community Zoom meeting for Ann Arbor Wards 4 & 5.
South Industrial Highway Construction to begin May 10th
The City webpage for this project has been updated, and construction is expected to begin May 10, 2021.
Public Meeting for Proposed Water Treatment Plant Project June 3rd 6PM
A public meeting and public hearing will take place via Zoom to discuss the City of Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant proposed Barton Pump Station Valve Improvement Project.
Ann Arbor City Hall building closure extended through Summer 2021 or until further notice
The closure of City Hall has through Summer 2021 or until further notice to allow more time for the vaccine to penetrate into the community and among city employee groups. Per state order, the city will continue to conduct all nonessential operations remotely.
A2COUNCIL Updates (A2COUNCIL.com)
For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at A2COUNCIL.com with summaries of issues and direct links to City documents. For each City Council meeting since November 2018, you can find links to the City’s Legistar website, CTN’s YouTube video, and links to my newsletters and voting charts. I have listed agenda items of interest from each meeting, along with articles I’ve written and articles published on MLive.
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 May 3, 2021 (7:00pm)
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-1 (21-0881) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – May 3, 2021
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
Communications from Council
CC-1 (21-0851) Resolution to Appoint Sheila Schueller and Robert Gordon to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission
These reappointments are from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Sheila Schueller – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
- Robert Gordon – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
CC-2 (21-0875) Resolution to Appoint Christopher Graham and John Callewaert to the Environmental Commission
These reappointments are from CM Disch and CM Griswold, who serve on the Environmental Commission. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Christopher Graham – Environmental Commission
- John Callewaert – Environmental Commission
CC-3 (21-0877) Resolution to Appoint Makiah Shipp, Mohammad Othman and Frances Todoro-Hargreaves to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (7 Votes Required)
These reappointments are from CM Ramlawi and CM Song, who serve on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, and CM Nelson and CM Radina, who serve on the Human Rights Commision. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because one nominee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor.
- Makiah Shipp – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (Youth Member)
- Mohammad Othman – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Frances Todoro-Hargreaves – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (21-0865) Resolution to Make Appointments of Nonregistered Electors to Boards and Commissions (7 Votes Required)
These 7 reappointments and 3 new appointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominees are not a registered electors of the City of Ann Arbor.
- Kelly Burris – Airport Advisory Committee
- Mike Pettigrew – Building Authority (new appointment)
- Marti Praschan – Building Authority (new appointment)
- Debra Poster – Commission on Disability Issues
- Ella Hall – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Ayesha Ghazi-Edwin – Human Rights Commission
- Molly Maciejewski – Huron River Watershed Commission
- Michelle Mueller – Local Development Finance Authority
- Jeff Nemeth – Public Market Advisory Commission
- Stephanie Willette – Public Market Advisory Commission (new appointment)
MC-2 (21-0852) Appointments and Nominations for May 3, 2021
These 41 reappointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- John Kotarski – Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
- Sarah Fuller – Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
- Anthony Ramirez – Building Authority
- Doug Smith – Building Authority
- David Arnsdorf – Building Board of Appeals
- Lisa Disch – City Planning Commission
- Sarah Mills – City Planning Commission
- Lisa Sauve – City Planning Commission
- Rachel Hawkins – Commission on Disability Issues
- Zachary Damon – Commission on Disability Issues
- William Kinley – Design Review Board
- Lori Singleton – Design Review Board
- Carolyn Arcure – Downtown Area Citizens’ Advisory Council
- Peter Honeyman – Downtown Area Citizens’ Advisory Council
- Mary Klopf – Downtown Development Authority
- Jessica Letaw – Downtown Development Authority
- Rishi Narayan – Downtown Development Authority
- Kenneth Westerman – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- E. Merrill Dudley – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- Charles Hookham – Energy Commission
- Robert Joerg – Energy Commission
- Noah Levin – Energy Commission
- John Mirsky – Energy Commission
- Jessica Quijano – Historic District Commission
- Paul Sher – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Skylar Woodman – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Lee Meadows – Housing Commission
- Leslie Stambaugh – Human Rights Commission
- Dilip Das – Human Rights Commission
- Cheryl Darnton – Huron River Watershed Commission
- Richard Norton – Huron River Watershed Commission
- Paige Morrison – Leslie Science and Nature Center Board of Directors
- Heather Grisham – Local Development Finance Authority
- Rachel Skylis – Park Advisory Commission
- Lauren London – Park Advisory Commission
- Areli Balderrama – Transportation Commission
- Julie Boland – Transportation Commission
- Candice Briere – Zoning Board of Appeals
- Nicole Eisenmann – Zoning Board of Appeals
- Michael Brent Daniel – Zoning Board of Appeals
- Charlotte Wilson – Zoning Board of Appeals
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 (21-0570) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with O. R. Colan Associates, LLC ($200,000.00) and Land Matters LLC ($200,000.00) for Easement and Right of Way Acquisition Services (RFP 21-06)
CA-2 (21-0641) Resolution to Authorize Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with West Erie Realty Solutions Ltd. for Easement and Right of Way Acquisition Services
CA-3 (21-0650) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Cadillac Asphalt, LLC (ITB-4667, $6,275,000.00) for the 2021 Street Resurfacing Project, and to Appropriate $650,000.00 from the Local Street Fund; $500,000.00 from the Stormwater Fund; $40,000.00 from the Park Maintenance and Capital Improvement Millage Fund; and $120,000.00 New Sidewalk Millage Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-4 (21-0710) Resolution to Award the Contract for the Geddes Road Water Main Project to Fonson Company, Inc. in the amount of $1,755,188.50 (ITB 4656)
CA-5 (21-0653) Resolution to Approve Change Order No. 2 for Bailey Excavating, Inc. for the Barton Drive Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing Project ($195,242.73, for a Total Contract Amount of $1,655,851.52)(ITB 4617)
CA-6 (21-0620) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Contract with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Headworks Improvement Project, RFP No. 19-12 ($291,668.00, Total Contract Amount $769,088.53)
CA-7 (21-0651) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with HDR Michigan, Inc. for the Barton Raw Water Main Condition Assessment Project – RFP No. 21-02 ($690,303.00)
CA-8 (21-0636) Resolution to Increase Purchasing Authority on the General Services Agreement with Kennedy Industries, Inc. for Pump Maintenance and Repair Services by $55,995.58; increasing purchasing authority from $75,000.00 Annually to $130,995.58 for FY21. (RFP-18-11)
CA-9 (21-0637) Resolution to Approve a Contract with E.T. Mackenzie Company to Renovate the Border-to-Border Pathway Between the Gallup Park Vehicle Bridge and Mitchell Field Bridge ($646,595.50)(ITB 4657)
CA-10 (21-0770) Resolution to Award and Approve a Contract for Fiber and Conduit Construction for the DDA District Technology Park (ITB#4664) to Fiber Optic Management, LLC d/b/a Turnkey Network Solutions ($4,009,286.72)
CA-11 (21-0741) Resolution to Approve a General Services Agreement with Magnasync Moviola Corporation dba Filmtools for the Community Television Network (CTN) ENCO enCaption Automated Captioning System ($45,134.00)
CA-12 (21-0695) Resolution to Approve Amendment to Member Services Agreement with Keenan & Associates ($88,000.00)
CA-13 (21-0693) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Pharmacy Benefit Management Agreement with Express Scripts Inc. ($9,202,623.00)
CA-14 (21-0702) Resolution to Award Contract in Amount of $215,030.64 to P.K. Contracting, Inc. for the 2021 Healthy Streets Deployment; and to Appropriate $320,830.00 from the Major Street Fund Balance and $33,143.00 from the Local Street Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
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 (21-0422) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning) of 3.56 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), 2260 Traver Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-21-11)
A recently annexed parcel (3.56 acres) at 2260 Traver Road will be rezoned from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District).
PH-2/B-2 (21-0533) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 1.1 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single Family Dwelling District), 3411 Geddes Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-21-10)
A recently annexed parcel (1.1 acres) at 3411 Geddes Road will be rezoned from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single Family Dwelling District).
PH-3/B-3 (21-0537) An Ordinance to Amend Table 5.15-1, Table 5.15-2, Sections 5.33, 5.37.2.P and 5.37.2.S, of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Short Term Rentals) (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 1 Nay) (ORD-21-12)
Permitted Use and Accessory Use tables in our City code would be amended to include types of Short Term Rental (non-principal residence and principal residence) and place them in zoning districts. Non-principal residence (commercial investment) properties in existence before March 1, 2021 would qualify as a “legal non-conforming use” and allowed to continue indefinitely. New commercial investment properties would be prohibited in residential areas moving forward. See my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
PH-4/B-4 (21-0539) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 7:651 and 7:654 of Chapter 97 (Short-Term Rentals) of Title VII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-21-13)
This amendment removes language from the short-term-rental (STR) ordinance that clarifies licensing by type. It removes explanation that STR licenses for a “non-principal residence” (i.e. commercial investment property) are only permitted in areas of the City zoned for mixed use. Also removed: language clarifying that STR licenses for a principal residence (i.e. owner occupied, whole house or homestay) may be issued in both residential and mixed-use zoning districts. See my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
PH-5/B-5 (21-0542) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-21-16)
Stormwater rates would be increased by 5%. It is estimated to generate additional revenue $606,909 to the Stormwater Disposal System, to fund operations and capital investments.
PH-6/DB-1 (21-0703) Resolution to Approve 614 South Ashley Site Plan (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Approval of a site plan for 614 South Ashley will allow the construction of a 289-square foot, second-story addition on the rear of an existing office building with three parking spaces underneath the structure.
PH-7/DS-1 (21-0616) Resolution to Approve New Fee for Fairview Cemetery
New fees for Fairview Cemetery will cover administrative costs. Two cremation interments within the same space will generate an Additional Grave Space Fee within the Same Space ($75) which will be deposited into the City’s Cemetery Perpetual Care Fund.
PH-8/DS-2 (21-0662) Resolution to Approve FY 2022 Fee Adjustments for the Community Services Area
The Community Services area will increase fees for Parks and Recreation: boat rental, swimming fees, weekend golf fees at Leslie Park, Farmers market stall rentals, rental rooms at Senior Center and Gallup livery, Cobblestone farm skate rental, ice skating lessons (Vets Park), public skate admissions (Buhr and Vets Park), and athletic field rentals.
PH-9/DS-3 (21-0687) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2022 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area – Engineering, Systems Planning, Public Works, Water Treatment, and Waste Water Treatment Units
The Public Services area will increase fees for Engineering, Systems planning, Public Works, Water Treatment, and Wastewater Treatment. Examples: private development review and inspection fees, visitor and residential parking permits, staff review of planning petitions, bulk water sales, and wastewater industrial user permit fees.
PH-10 (21-0754) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2022
As part of the annual budget process, this is a public hearing on the City’s proposed budget for FY 2022, which will be voted on at the May 16th Council Meeting. The City Budget and related Property Tax Millage rates for 2022 include adjustments to the number of full-time-employees (FTE) in City departments. The Housing Commission, Building and Rental, Sustainability, Communications, Systems Planning, Solid Waste, and City Attorney’s office will (collectively) see an increase of 21.25 FTE. Police and Fire services will decrease by seven FTE.
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 (21-0422) is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (21-0533) is the same as PH-2 above.
B-3 (21-0537) is the same as PH-3 above.
B-4 (21-0539) is the same as PH-4 above.
B-5 (21-0542) is the same as PH-5 above.
New Business – Boards and Commissions
The following resolution had a public hearing, as listed above.
DB-1 (21-0703) is the same as PH-6 above.
New Business – Staff
The following resolutions had public hearings, as listed above.
DS-4 (21-0704) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance No. 21-12 – An Ordinance to Amend Table 5.15-1, Table 5.15-2, Sections 5.33, 5.37.2.P, and 5.37.2.S of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Short-Term Rentals)
With Council approval, amendments to the City’s short-term-rental ordinance (see PH-3/B-3 and PH-4/B-4 above) will be summarized to spare expense while satisfying publication requirements.
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 (21-0866) An Ordinance to Add a Temporary Emergency Ordinance Section 1.327b (Third-Party Delivery Services) to Title I of Chapter 15 (Emergency and Disaster Management) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
A Temporary Emergency Ordinance will regulate Third Party Delivery Service for so long as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services orders restrict indoor dining establishments. Regulations will limit a commission or delivery charge to no more than 15% of purchase price (unless a higher rate is agreed upon in exchange for additional service). Third party delivery services will be in violation of the ordinance if they post inaccurate or misleading information about an Ann Arbor restaurant or such restaurant’s menu.
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 (21-0779) Resolution to Improve Council Effectiveness, Performance and Communications for Professional Services in the Amount of $20,000 (8 Votes Required)
In consultation with the director of Human Resources, the City Administrator would be asked to spend up to $20,000 to retain a professional mediator to teach effective meeting management and discourse methodology for Councilmembers.
DC-2 (21-0822) Resolution in Support of Michigan Senate Bill 352 of 2021
City Council would express support for State Senate Bill 352, which restores local control over gun regulations on public property. Cities, townships, and counties would be able to adopt rules like those governing courthouses or schools.
DC-3 (21-0861) Resolution to Request the Michigan Department of Transportation to Address the Frequency of Commercial Truck Crashes on the Eastbound M-14 Bridge over the Huron River
City Council asks the Michigan Department of Transportation to take deliberate measures to either reduce speeds, re-engineer the road to increase traction and prevent hydroplaning, or take other steps to reduce the frequency of truck crashes on Eastbound M14. This resolution will be sent to state legislators.and Governor Whitmer.
DC-4 (21-0692) Resolution Levying Certain Delinquent Municipal Solid Waste, Board Up, Clean Up, Vacant Property Inspection Fees, Housing Inspection Fees, and Fire Inspection Fees as Special Assessments and Ordering Collection Thereof
Delinquent Municipal Solid Waste, Board Up, Clean Up, Vacant Property Inspection fees, Housing Inspection fees, and Fire Inspection fees will be charged to property owners as special assessments, placed on the tax rolls as debts. A total of $ 108,404.71 will be added to what is owed for the July tax roll.
DC-5 (21-0823) Resolution to Approve Amendments to the Council Rules
Amendments to Council Rules will restrict the addition of items to the agenda after 5 PM on the Thursday before a meeting. New rules would require three cosponsors to add a late agenda item, create a “Proposed Agenda Items” section to the agenda, require a vote in order to add late items and reduce the vote required (from three-quarters to simple majority) to add those items. Problematic language added three months ago (and challenged by the ACLU) would be removed. See my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
DC-6 (21-0867) Resolution for the City of Ann Arbor to Hold a Community Conversation about the Palestinian People and Palestinian-Americans
If approved, the City of Ann Arbor would hold a forum about the Palestinian people and Palestinian-Americans with the goal of having a community conversation.
Two topics on this week’s agenda are generally about rules: how we define them, when we apply them, and why they matter.
MAKING UP RULES
Agenda item DC-5 is amended and additional Council Rules. Amendments would remove wording (added in February 2021) that prompted First Amendment concerns from the ACLU. This week’s new Rules would remove that problematic wording, but also add a new Ethics violation for “conduct that is unbecoming of a Councilmember.”
If approved, DC-5 would also create a new Ethics Rule 13 (“Council Behavioral Norms”), including seven bullet points and selectively referencing three Ethic “tenets” from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). The ICMA is a membership organization for professional (unelected) managers. The complete list of Twelve Ethics Tenets from ICMA can be found here:
The ICMA specifically recommends that elected officials adopt Ethic Tenets 1 and 3; as proposed in DC-5, Council Rules would instead adopt Ethic Tenets 2, 3, and 4. I am told that the Administrative Committee did not engage in any discussion about why or how these rules would be implemented (e.g. interpretation of “conduct unbecoming”) or their origins in the context of the ICMA.
For more about the recent ongoing efforts to revisit and revise internal Council Rules, see:
BENDING THE RULES
The biggest Ward 4 topic on this week’s agenda is the short-term rental (STR) ordinance amendments. Last September, Council passed an ordinance prohibiting non-owner occupied (investment) STR businesses in residential neighborhoods. Agenda items B-3 and B-4 will permit all existing non-owner occupied STRs to continue doing business in residential neighborhoods. The proposed amendments define current STR businesses as a “legal nonconforming use” that may carry on continuously and indefinitely for every future owner of the property. The City still does not know exactly how many non-owner occupied STR businesses qualify for this special exception, but this week, staff shared updated information about additional STR businesses that have self-reported since our last discussion. So far, we know of 141 housing units functioning as full-time STR businesses in residential neighborhoods.
I will be voting against these amendments because I believe those housing units serve a higher purpose for the benefit of long-term tenants and year-round residents. I wrote more explanation of my position last month, when these amendments were first proposed:
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!