This week on Ann Arbor City Council, we have a somewhat long agenda up for discussion that includes ten public hearings (!), a few ordinances each in first or second reading, and some new/unfinished business that revisits the structuring of water rates.
Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours tomorrow (Sunday May 5th) 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!
Sunday May 5th (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:
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 planning, 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:
Scio Church construction (including Scio/Seventh intersection)
Road construction on Scio Church Road between Seventh and Main has closed the east-bound lane of Scio Church. Construction involves resurfacing Scio Church Road, and completing the sidewalk along the north side of Scio Church Road. This project also includes changes to the Seventh and Scio Church intersection, which was the subject of several public meetings held by City staff.
Ann Arbor Saline Road lane closures
A lane in each direction of Ann Arbor Saline Road is closed for local storm sewer, sidewalk and curb work.
Hoover Avenue, Greene Street, and Hill Street construction starts May 6th
Road construction on Hoover Avenue, Greene Street, and Hill Street will start on May 6th, and is scheduled to complete in November. This is a big project – I’ve included a map of the affected area in my post, along with a copy of the letter sent by the City to local residents.
Additionally the City has announced a traffic control plan for Hoover Ave in effect May 6-30.
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.
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 15, 2019
Friends of Greenview and Pioneer Woods Spring Workday May 18th
I helped out with this last year – this is a great local group!
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 6, 2019 7:00 PM
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/DB-1 (19-0717) Resolution to Approve the 309 N. Ashley Brownfield Plan (BRC Recommendation: Approval – 4 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The developer of a property (four parcels) at 309 N. Ashley is pursuing tax increment financing through the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, which requires consent from the City of Ann Arbor. The property is eligible for Brownfield funds due to gasoline contamination, likely from a former gas station at an adjoining property (202 Miller Avenue).
PH-2/DB-2 (18-2007) Resolution to Approve 309 North Ashley Street Site Plan and Development Agreement, (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is a site plan for 309 N. Ashley Street, four parcels which are currently two vacant lots and two single family homes. The plan proposes a 39,080-square foot, five story residential building with two below-ground parking lots (34 spaces). It will have 17 to 25 units, depending on the preferences of potential buyers.
PH-3/DB-3 (19-0403) Resolution to Approve Bristol Ridge Site Plan and Development Agreement, 2750 Pontiac Trail (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A site plan for 2750 Pontiac Trail called “Bristol Ridge” will allow construction of 69 townhouse dwelling units accessed from one drive off of Pontiac Trail. The Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance from the required 138 parking spaces (current zoning requires two spaces per unit). This project will include 94 legal parking spaces in garages and surface spaces, plus an additional 34 “tandem” garage spaces and 69 driveway spaces.
PH-4/DB-4 (19-0703) Resolution to Approve the Allen Annexation, 0.6 Acre, 595 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A parcel of 0.6 acre at 595 Riverview Drive would be annexed into the city. It is currently part of Ann Arbor Township. The property is already within city water and sewer service area, current use is consistent with adjacent zoning, land uses, and master plan. The planning commission approved this annexation in a 9-0 vote.
PH-5/B-1 (19-0608) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is an adjustment (6% increase) to water rates, due to increasing operating and maintenance costs and to increase funding for capital improvement projects.
PH-6/B-2 (19-0607) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:64 of Chapter 29 (Sewer Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is an adjustment (7% increase) to sewer rates, in order to recover revenues required for the purposes of debt coverage and increasing operational costs of the sewage disposal system. In addition, revenue from this rate increase will be utilized for capital expenditures required to maintain and rehabilitate the sewer collection system.
PH-7/B-3 (19-0609) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-19-13)
This is an adjustment (13% increase) to stormwater rates to increase the level of service, including: best management practices, green infrastructure, monitoring of the conveyance systems, tree pruning, education and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
PH-8/DS-1 (19-0707) Resolution to Approve FY 2020 Fee Adjustments for the Community Services Area
Fee adjustments and new fees for Fiscal Year 2020 would increase charges for a long list of services within departments of Planning and Parks & Recreation. The charges reflect increases in expenses such as labor, materials and supplies, equipment, overhead, staffing, and utility costs.
PH-9/DS-2 (19-0601) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2020 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area – Engineering, Public Works, Systems Planning, and Water Treatment Services Unit
Fee adjustments for Fiscal Year 2020 would generate more revenue within the departments of Public Services: Engineering, Public Works, Systems Planning and Water Treatment Units. The increased revenue would balance expenditures and revenues in the proposed budget.
PH-10 (19-0805) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2020
This is a hearing on the proposed FY 2020 City Budget, totalling $462 Million in revenue and $430 million in expenditures. The city’s total of full time employees (FTEs) is expected to increase from 745 to 758. (See link for extensive details). Also note that this public hearing topic will not be voted on at this meeting – the budget will be voted on at a future Council meeting.
B-1 (19-0608) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is the same as PH-5 above.
B-2 (19-0607) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:64 of Chapter 29 (Sewer Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is the same as PH-6 above.
B-3 (19-0609) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-19-13)
This is the same as PH-7 above.
C-1 (19-0654) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 2.25 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single Family Dwelling District), Admiraal/O’Brien Property, 1448 Warrington Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A 2.25 acre property at 1448 Warrington Drive has officially been annexed in the city and would now be zoned R1A (Single Family Dwelling District). This proposed zoning is consistent with adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan. The Planning Commission recommended approval, 8-0.
C-2 (19-0722) An Ordinance to Amend Section 5.15 (Table 5-15) and Section 5.16.6 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Accessory Dwelling Units)
The zoning ordinance would be amended to revise the standards regulating the placement of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in the city. Proposed amendments would increase the number of zoning districts in which ADUs are allowed; approximately 2,900 more properties would be eligible to add an ADU. A detached ADU would be allowed in any legally conforming detached accessory structure (e.g. a garage). The minimum 5,000 sq. ft. lot size requirement would be removed.
C-3 (19-0560) An Ordinance to Amend Section 5.15 (Table 5-15), Section 5.16.3, 5.16.7 and 5.37.2 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Temporary Outdoor Activities)
Three new land uses would be added to the Unified Development Code: Temporary Outdoor Activity, Short Term Car Storage and Medium Car Storage. These are considered as an alternative to re-zoning a portion of a large parcel at the Briarwood Mall and would allow special sales and events in exceptionally large parking lots. Temporary activity longer than eight days or more than 16 days in a calendar year would require a special exception.
C-4 (19-0725) An Ordinance to Amend Section 5.15 (Table 5-15), Section 5.16.3, and 5.37.2 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Mobile Food Vending Service)
Mobile Food Vending Service (a.k.a. “food trucks”) would be permitted in all areas except for residential zoning districts. A Mobile Food Vending Service (MFVS) may occupy a parking area of 20 or fewer spaces, and it will not occupy other properties at a rate exceeding one MFVS per 20 parking spaces.
DC-1 (19-0710) Resolution to Appoint Rosanne Bloomer to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (7 Votes Required)
Rosanne Bloomer will be appointed to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. Her appointment fulfills an ordinance requirement that one member of the GAC be an “agricultural landowner/business operator.” She is not a registered elector of Ann Arbor so this appointment requires seven votes.
DC-2 (19-0857) Resolution Recognizing the Service of Interim Police Chief Robert Pfannes
The service of Interim Police Chief Robert Pfannes is recognized by this resolution. He has served the Ann Arbor community for more than 21 years in roles of Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Deputy Chief, and (for the last year) as Interim Police Chief. In acknowledgement of his work, Robert Pfannes will be given the title of Chief for the period of time between now and the date of his retirement on May 24, 2019.
DC-3 (19-0878) Resolution to Replace Councilmember Ackerman with Councilmember Ramlawi on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
Council Member Ackerman would step down as liaison to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission and Council Member Ramlawi would be appointed. Council Member Ramlawi is already the council liaison to the Human Rights Commission and previously participated in the choosing of appointees to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission. This change assigns CM Ramlawi as liaison to both the Human Rights Commission and the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission.
DC-4 (19-0896) Resolution to Authorize Settlement of Levenson v City of Ann Arbor, 22nd Circuit Court, Case No. 15-1284-NO
A lawsuit (Levenson v. City of Ann Arbor) would be settled for $40,000.
DC-5 (19-0887) Resolution Supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Active Involvement with the Gelman Site and Encouraging its Listing of the same as a “Superfund” Site
The City would communicate its desire for active involvement from the federal EPA, for response to and cleanup of contamination under CERCLA (the “Superfund” Act). The City Administrator would communicate this resolution to the Governor, requesting a concurrence letter in support of adding the Gelman Site to the National Priorities List (i.e. making Gelman a “Superfund” site). Support for this measure would be further communicated to all other relevant state and federal representatives for Washtenaw County.
DC-6 (19-0905) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Provide a Revised Residential Water Rate Structure
The City Administrator would revise current residential water rate structure in accordance with a recent recommendation from Arcadis (Option 2). The current rate structure includes four tiers. This proposal would combine the top two tiers, for a residential water rate structure of three tiers.
DC-7 (19-0906) Resolution to Adopt the FY 2019-2020 City Council Legislative Policy Agenda
This resolution comes from the Council Policy Agenda committee. Long-term policy goals are listed under categories of inclusive community, financial stability, responsible economic development, protecting the environment, sustainable infrastructure, and workplace safety/security/rights to organize. The list addresses a range of issues: strictly local (e.g. parking assets downtown), state-wide (e.g. reform of the Headlee Amendment), and nationally relevant (e.g. federal funding of affordable housing). See link for comprehensive list.
DC-8 (19-0912) Resolution to Negotiate Potential Purchase of “Canoe Fan” Artwork Installation in Gallup Park
The City would negotiate purchase of the “Canoe Fan” artwork installation at Gallup Park for a sum of $45,000. (This artwork was on loan with the hope that a buyer might subsequently donate it to the city; this has not occurred.) The expenditure is not part of the Capital Improvements Plan which already includes over 20 pieces of public art. If negotiations are successful, the City Administrator would offer a proposal with recommended funding source for the May 20th City Council meeting.
DB-1 (19-0717) Resolution to Approve the 309 N. Ashley Brownfield Plan (BRC Recommendation: Approval – 4 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-1 above.
DB-2 (18-2007) Resolution to Approve 309 North Ashley Street Site Plan and Development Agreement, (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.
DB-3 (19-0403) Resolution to Approve Bristol Ridge Site Plan and Development Agreement, 2750 Pontiac Trail (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-3 above.
DB-4 (19-0703) Resolution to Approve the Allen Annexation, 0.6 Acre, 595 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-4 above.
DS-1 (19-0707) Resolution to Approve FY 2020 Fee Adjustments for the Community Services Area
This is the same as PH-8 above.
DS-2 (19-0601) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2020 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area – Engineering, Public Works, Systems Planning, and Water Treatment Services Unit
This is the same as PH-9 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.
CA-1 (19-0829) Resolution to Close N. Fourth Avenue and E. Ann Street for the 24th Annual African-American Downtown Festival, Friday, May 31, 2019 to Saturday, June 1, 2019
CA-2 (19-0660) Resolution to Close North University for the Townie Street Party – Sunday, July 14, 2019 to Wednesday, July 17, 2019
CA-3 (19-0662) Resolution to Close Streets for the Townie Street Party – Ann Arbor Mile-Dart for Art on Monday, July 16, 2018
CA-4 (19-0704) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2019 Rolling Sculpture Car Show – Friday, July 12, 2019
CA-5 (19-0706) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the NTI Block Party – Wednesday, July 31, 2019 from Noon to Midnight
CA-6 (19-0858) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the UA Block Party and Plumbers & Pipefitters 5K – Monday, August 12, 2019
CA-7 (19-0776) Resolution to Approve the 2019 Ann Arbor Jaycees Summer Carnival at Pioneer High School – June 17 to June 24, 2019
CA-8 (19-0575) Resolution to Award Construction Contract for the Geddes Dam Gate Recoating and Repairs Project to Gerace Construction Company, Inc. ($828,000), to Appropriate Funds, and to Amend the Project Budget (8 Votes Required)
CA-10 (19-0604) 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
CA-11 (19-0655) Resolution to Approve Schedule 30 to the Interagency Agreement for Collaborative Technology and Services for a Merit Networks Shared Internet Connection with Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) ($38,743.34 over a 6-year period)
CA-12 (19-0726) Resolution Levying Certain Delinquent Water Utility, Board Up, Clean Up, Vacant Property Inspection Fees, Housing Inspection Fees, and Fire Inspection Fees as Special Assessments and Ordering Collection Thereof
CA-13 (19-0729) Resolution to Accept a Sanitary Sewer Easement at 609, 611, 613 and 615 Ironwood Drive from Charles Zent and Pamela Gearhart (8 Votes Required)
CA-14 (19-0871) Resolution Recognizing The Word of Life DBA: University Christian Outreach as a Civic Nonprofit Organization Operating in Ann Arbor for the Purpose of Obtaining a Charitable Gaming License
CA-15 (19-0635) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Tetra Tech of Michigan, PC for up to $500,000.00 Hubbell, Roth, & Clark, Inc. for up to $500,000.00 and OHM Advisors for up to $300,000.00, all for General Civil Engineering Services (RFP #19-05)
CA-16 (19-0640) Resolution to Award Construction Contracts to E.T. MacKenzie Company and Inner City Contracting LLC. For On-Call Construction Services in the Amount of $250,000.00 each per Year for a Period of Three Fiscal Years (RFP No. 19-04)
CA-17 (19-0745) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Cadillac Asphalt LLC (ITB. 4570, $8,995,000.00) for the 2019 Street Resurfacing/Restoration Project, and to Appropriate $675,000.00 from the Major Street Fund and $1,917,500.00 from the Local Street Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-18 (19-0730) Resolution to approve a Professional Services Agreement with Materials Testing Consultants, Inc. for Material Testing Services for the 2019 Street Resurfacing/Restoration Project ($139,530.00)
CA-19 (19-0576) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to J. Ranck Electric, Inc. (ITB No. 4574) for 2019 RRFB Installations ($95,750.00)
CA-20 (19-0580) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Douglas N. Higgins, Inc. for the 2019 Miscellaneous Utility Project ($1,512,263.50)
CA-21 (19-0630) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Professional Services Industries, Inc., for Material Testing Services for the 2019 Miscellaneous Utility Project ($37,250.00).
CA-22 (19-0694) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Fonson Company, Inc. (ITB No. 4569, $853,846.00) and Appropriate the Remaining Fund Balance of $1,285,227.00 from the Maintenance Facility Capital Projects Fund and Amend the Existing Maintenance Facility Construction Project for the W.R. Wheeler (Swift Run) Service Center PUD Non-motorized Improvements – Phase 2 Project (8 Votes Required)
I’ve gotten a mixed bag of emails this week: a number of folks expressing concerns about Accessory Dwelling Units, people asking questions about construction projects, and a few emails about board and commission re-appointments.
Until very recently, the process of appointments to boards and commissions was controlled pretty tightly by the mayor, in terms of knowing the pool of applicants and making choices. i.e. Until very recently, council members could vote to approve or reject a candidate but had no idea who was being chosen ahead of who. To his credit, when new members of council raised concerns about this process (asking for more transparency), Mayor Taylor opened up the database of applicants. Council can now see the pool of applicants to these boards and commissions, which certainly gives better context to the approve/reject vote for any individual person. Now that we can know who the applicants are and see resumes, Council can offer significantly more input than it once did.
To the extent that the appointment process is now more transparent (i.e. no longer Mayor-eyes-only), it’s not surprising that there would be more discussion around the choices. When these terms end, it offers an opportunity to expand the circle of volunteer participation. There are other members of our community who would like to serve.
Council has discretion to approve or reject re-appointments that the Mayor brings forward. The Mayor, also, has the discretion to set aside applications for re-appointment and simply not present them to Council. I am aware of at least one well-respected commissioner whose re-appointment has been set aside by the Mayor. Several people have called me to express concerns about that, because this commissioner’s leadership is highly valued among members of our community who feel marginalized. I hope the Mayor will change his mind.
To be perfectly honest, when I think about re-appointments, I consider how those positions are meant to be representative of our residents, an opportunity to hear more voices from our community. Appointees are not accountable to voters in the same way that elected officials are; appointments are subject to approval by the mayor and council. I do not “own” my seat any more than an appointee “owns” a seat on a board or commission.
On that note, I urge everyone to visit the link for board and commission openings in this newsletter, which I’ve included in every newsletter since the beginning. I meant it when I campaigned on a platform of transparency and I also meant it when I said that I wanted residents more involved in city decision making. I do believe there is an opportunity for more thoughtful discussion when we include a wider range of viewpoints.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!