Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (May 18, 2019)

May 18, 2019 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

This week on Ann Arbor City Council, our agenda includes the proposed budget for FY2020, three public hearings, a couple re-zonings in second reading, and some new/unfinished business appointing members to our boards and commissions.

Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I need to announce that my usual coffee hours at RoosRoast are not taking place this Sunday. I will instead be participating in Council Caucus at 3 p.m., at City Hall. (We re-scheduled Caucus earlier, due to a Sunday evening event honoring John Dingell.) If you were already planning to attend my coffee hours at 3 p.m., I invite you to attend our Council Caucus instead at City Hall (2nd floor). Council Caucus is a great opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns among a larger group of council members. (I might be late for the 3 p.m. start time, because my son is in a theater performance at Pioneer that afternoon.)

This month, I also held a coffee hour at Brookhaven Manor (401 W. Oakbrook). I will be at Brookhaven again on Tuesday, June 11th at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome!

A2ELNEL coffee hours May 19 2019

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!

NOTE: Due to a previously scheduled gathering to celebrate John Dingell, Council Caucus for Sunday May 19th has been rescheduled to 3:00-5:00pm

Council Caucus
Sunday May 19th (3:00-5:00 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.

More Information:

  • 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:

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)

Ann Arbor Center of the City Task Force applications accepted until May 31st 
The Ann Arbor City Council is accepting applications for the new Center of the City Task Force, created to engage citizens in visioning, long-term pla

nning, immediate and intermittent uses and building toward the final vision for the Center of the City on the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Branch block.

The online application for Boards and Commissions is here:

Road Construction Updates

It’s the season for road construction, and I post regular updates on my website about projects that affect Ward 4 residents. My posts include links to the City’s website, so that you can find more information and contact info.

For information about these and other projects, the City has a page of road and lane closures, and a page of scheduled construction projects:

Updates since last newsletter

Packard/Granger detour May 17th-19th
This weekend there is a detour around construction at the intersection of Packard and Granger.

Scio Church/Seventh new detour May 21st
A new detour will be put in place Tuesday May 21st at the intersection of Scio Church and Seventh Ave. Weather permitting, construction is scheduled to conclude June 14th.—seventh-ave-detour-begins-may-21st

ITC State-Pioneer Transmission Line Project Update
ITC Michigan provided an update on the State-Pioneer transmission line project.

Previous Updates

Ann Arbor Saline Road lane closures
A lane in each direction of Ann Arbor Saline Road is still closed for local storm sewer, sidewalk and curb work.

Hoover Avenue, Greene Street, and Hill Street construction
Road construction on Hoover Avenue, Greene Street, and Hill Street has started, and is scheduled to complete in November.

Maywood Storm Sewer and Water Main Upgrade Project (June to August 2019)
Storm sewers and water mains will be upgraded along Maywood Avenue. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in early June and be completed by mid-August.

Additional 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 May 6, 2019

Online Survey for Ann Arbor Transportation Plan open until May 20th

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.

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday May 20, 2019 7:00 PM

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website here:

If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me.

Communications from the Mayor

MC-1 (19-0880) Appointments – Confirmations
Forty (40) current commissioners are presented for re-appointment; four (4) new people are presented for appointment. This list was first presented at the May 6th Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this (May 20th) Council meeting.

MC-2 (19-1044) Resolution to appoint David Blanchard to the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board (7 Votes Required)
David Blanchard is not a resident of the City of Ann Arbor, so this appointment requires 7 votes. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.

Consent Agenda

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 (19-0914) Resolution to Accept an Easement for Public Right-of-Way at 1550 Washtenaw Avenue from Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity Housing Corporation (8 Votes Required)

CA-2 (19-0916) Resolution to Approve March 28, 2019 Recommendations of the Board of Insurance Administration

CA-3 (19-0785) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with CenturyLink Communications, LLC (CenturyLink) for up to $35,000.00 for Relocation of Fiber Optic Lines for the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project

CA-4 (19-0833) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Miller-Boldt Inc. for Replacement of the Primary Chiller at Guy C. Larcom City Hall and to Appropriate Funding from the General Capital Fund ($190,000.00) and the General Fund Fund Balance ($25,700.00) (ITB #4576 – $349,000.00) (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/DS-1 (19-0631) Resolution No. 4 – Confirming the Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Special Assessment Roll
Twenty-seven properties in the vicinity of Northside STEAM will be assessed for the cost of sidewalk improvements totaling $94,339.78.  Individual assessments range from $1,257.86 to $8,469.62.  Assessments over $1,200 will be divided into equal, annual installments.

PH-2/B-1 (19-0453) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.96 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family District), Dantzler Property, 2861 Stone School (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-19-09)
A property at 2861 Stone School (south of Packard) is now officially annexed into the city and will be zoned R1C, single family district.

PH-3/B-2 (19-0457) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.52 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family District), Ganger Property, 2660 Apple Way (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A property at 2660 Apple Way is now officially annexed into the city and will be zoned R1B, single family district.

Ordinances – Second Reading

B-1 (19-0453) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.96 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family District), Dantzler Property, 2861 Stone School (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-19-09)
This is the same as PH-2 above.

B-2 (19-0457) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.52 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family District), Ganger Property, 2660 Apple Way (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-3 above.

Motions and Resolutions

DC-1 (19-0719) Resolution to Reappoint Stephen Brown to the Environmental Commission

DC-2 (19-0807) Resolution to Reappoint Jonathan Overpeck to the Environmental Commission (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Jonathan Overpeck is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-3 (19-0849) Resolution to Reappoint Jennifer Fike and John Ramsburgh to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission

DC-4 (19-0892) Resolution to Appoint Peter Greenfield to the Airport Advisory Committee (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Peter Greenfield is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-5 (19-0893) Resolution to Appoint Bonnie Gabowitz to the Cable Communications Commission (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Bonnie Gabowitz is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-6 (19-0894) Resolution to Appoint Dale Leslie and Tim Marshall to the Economic Development Corporation (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Dale Leslie and Tim Marshall are not residents of Ann Arbor.

DC-7 (19-0895) Resolution to Appoint Wayne Appleyard to the Energy Commission (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Wayne Appleyard is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-8 (19-0898) Resolution to Appoint Molly Maciejewski to the Huron River Watershed Council (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Molly Maciejewski is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-9 (19-0899) Resolution to Appoint Mohamed Al-Azem to the Human Rights Commission (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Mohamed Al-Azem is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-10 (19-0900) Resolution to Appoint Paula Sorrell to the Local Development Finance Authority (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Paula Sorrell is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-11 (19-0902) Resolution to Appoint Patricia Jenkins to the Housing Commission (7 Votes Required)
Seven votes are required because Patricia Jenkins is not a resident of Ann Arbor.

DC-12 (19-0903) Resolution to Appoint Howard Lazarus and Tom Crawford to the Ann Arbor Building Authority

DC-13 (19-1037) Resolution to Confirm Appointments to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission of Members Who Are Not Registered Electors of the City (7 Votes Required)
This confirmation of ICPOC appointments is necessary in order to reconcile language from the previous resolution with the City Charter. The original resolution describes an appointee as a “resident”; the charter refers to an appointee as “a registered elector of this City.” Appointees to the ICPOC who are not “a registered elector of this City” are confirmed with seven votes.

DC-14 (19-1039) Motion to Reconsider the May 6, 2019 Vote that Approved the Resolution to Approve a Contract with Liberty Security Group, Inc. for Guest Services at the Guy C. Larcom City Hall ($102,500.00) RFP #19-01
A contract for $102,500 with Liberty Security Group was passed at the last meeting (5/6/19). I am bringing it back for reconsideration (I can do this because I was on the prevailing side). See my “Additional Thoughts” section below for more explanation.

DC-15 (19-0709) Resolution to Authorize Purchase of Canoe Fan Artwork and Appropriate $40,000 from General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
As authorized by Council on 5/6/19, the City has negotiated purchase of the “Canoe Fan” artwork installation at Gallup Park. The City will pay $40,000, which will come from General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance.

DS-1 (19-0631) Resolution No. 4 – Confirming the Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Special Assessment Roll
This is the same as PH-1 above.

DS-2 (19-0412) Resolution to Approve a Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Project ($415,874.00)
Contract with MDOT (Michigan Dept. of Transportation) for construction related to the Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Project. The contract utilizes $416,000 of federal grant funds, $538,000 of millage funds, and $94,000 in special assessments.

DS-3 (19-0805) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2020
The following budget amendments have been proposed:

  1. Additional $3 million for street resurfacing (Lumm)
  2. Acceleration of Nixon Corridor Improvement Projects from FY2025 to FY2021 (Lumm)
  3. Increase Police Staffing by two officers (Lumm)
  4. Restore fall leaf and holiday tree pickup (Lumm)
  5. Additional $100,000 one-time funding (FY2020) for new streetlights (Lumm)
  6. End deer culling operations in FY 2020 (Hayner)
  7. Increase recurring annual contributions to fund pension liability (Hayner, Eaton)
  8. Prioritization of Oakbrook asphalt path (Nelson)
  9. Change the millage rate for the Streets, Bridges and Sidewalks Millage (Taylor)

Additionally – the amendment “Recognition of Parks Fairness Resolution with Budget Amendments” will be calculated after all amendments are considered.

Additional thoughts…

Two items appearing on the agenda this week were put there by me. I brought back DC-14 and I am offering an amendment to the budget to fix asphalt multi-modal paths on Oakbrook Drive.

At the last meeting, Council voted to approve a contract with Liberty Security Group, so that a newly-built desk in the lobby could be staffed for up to 80 hours a week. When I first heard about it, I was unsure about several aspects of the plan and considered voting against it. However, a few hours before our meeting, a City Hall employee emailed Council to express the idea that staff truly does feel exposed and vulnerable in our city building, and that security is needed. That single email was significant to me and it convinced me to vote for the contract. I do not spend forty hours a week at City Hall but I want to support the needs of people who do. 

I am bringing back this contract for another vote because I realize now that I let that email influence me too much. More importantly, I don’t believe that the contract is the solution to the problem described in that email. The approved contract would put a “security” person in the lobby, but this person would not be armed. The person would be available to identify problematic situations, but that person’s ability to actually address a situation would be extremely limited.

Since the vote, I have gotten more detailed explanation from our city administrator about other significant security measures, soon to be implemented at City Hall. The other planned improvements will be much more effective in protecting our city employees and they do not require a person sitting at that desk. (I look forward to supporting those measures if they come before council for approval.) This past week, I also chatted with the city employee who sent Council that original email – he was able to share more details about his (and other staff) concerns, we talked about various strategies to address them.  

I now believe that the Liberty Security Group contract is an expenditure with minimal impact or added safety benefit. Insofar as this person might act as a “greeter” to help visitors navigate City Hall, I don’t feel good about spending over $100,000 (and out-sourcing) to provide that service. At our last meeting, this vote split 6-5, so when I bring it back and change my vote, it should change the result.

My other item on the agenda is a budget amendment to get multi-modal paths on West Oakbrook Drive repaired in FY2020. For anyone who doesn’t know: Oakbrook Drive connects Ann Arbor Saline Road and South Main (south of Busch’s, north of Whole Foods). It is an area where many residents walk to catch buses or access nearby retail. Many of these residents are older, living at Brookhaven Manor and Cranbrook Towers (both located on the south side of Oakbrook). When the 146 units at Balfour senior living development are completed at the corner of Oakbrook and Main, this area will have even more older residents in need of safe walkways. 

The asphalt paths on Oakbrook have been in poor repair for years and are particularly terrible where they lead to the bus stop in front of Brookhaven Manor. The city’s original plan for repairs was scheduled for FY2021. My amendment will allocate budget earlier, so that the crumbling path can be repaired sooner (at the same time as other needed pedestrian improvements on South Main). I hope my amendment passes and that the pedestrians on Oakbrook feel safer, sooner!

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson