Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (October 3, 2020)

Oct 3, 2020 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

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, City Council has a fairly short agenda that includes an annexation, revisions to our sign ordinance, the City’s plan for solid waste and recycling, and resolutions to initiate discussion about the DDA’s future and plans for the public “Commons” of the Library lot.

Recently, I have been hearing from many residents with direct observation and experience of our Healthy Streets experiments at S. Main, Packard, and Broadway/Swift locations. Discussion of this program will be revisited at the Council Meeting on October 19th, so I encourage everyone to reach out and share your input about it. I have gotten meaningful feedback from residents who live in proximity to these locations or travel on these thoroughfares. If you have a perspective you would like to share, you can reach the whole of Council as well as the Transportation Commission at the emails below:

A few other downtown locations related to the Healthy Streets program are administered by the DDA, which has sponsored another opportunity for public input. If you have perspective to share on the traffic reconfigurations at Miller/Catherine, Division/Broadway, S. Main, and State/North University, there is an opportunity to share your feedback:

Barrier Busters
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:

A2ELNEL Zoom coffee hours Oct 4 2020

Virtual Coffee Hour
Sunday Oct 4th 3:00pm
As we move into a new school year, I am again holding coffee hours on Sunday afternoons before scheduled City Council meetings. These will be “virtual” meetings held via Zoom. Please email me for a link:

Council Caucus
Sunday Oct 4th 7:00pm
We have been holding Council Caucus on Sunday nights before Council meetings since March 2019. All Council Members are invited to participate. During the COVID-19 crisis, we are holding Caucus via Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information

City Council
Monday Oct 5th 7:00pm
Council is meeting again using the Zoom application. The video feed will be broadcast on CTN and YouTube. As with the previous meetings, public comment will be audio only using Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information.

COVID-19 Local Updates

In just the last few days, we are reading a lot of news stories about the spread of COVID-19 among national leaders. Locally, infection rates have prompted more stories worth reading.

The presidents of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University discussed the likelihood that they will be online for winter semester, with students not returning to the classroom until next fall:

Just this week, Infection rates have triggered review of campus operations at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The UM had previously stated plans to re-evaluate based on local metrics, if there were more than 70 new cases per million, sustained test positivity rates of 10% or 3 consecutive days of a more than 10% case increase:

Additionally, the Washtenaw County Health department has issued new guidelines just this week (10/2/20), prohibiting any “outdoor social gathering or outdoor organized event” of over 25 people at a private residence. These standards apply specifically in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and are stricter than guidelines issued by the State of Michigan.

From that County order:

With thousands of students returning to two large universities in Washtenaw County, many from states with high rates of COVID-19, living in congregate settings, and traditionally disposed toward socializing in large groups, further restrictions need to be put in place to prevent outbreaks related to large social gatherings and organized events. Large social gatherings have demonstrated an increased public health risk with potential for further outbreaks, including super-spreading events.

At our last regular Council meeting, we approved a resolution to initiate conversation with University of Michigan leadership about the use of campus housing during this pandemic. I remain hopeful that by partnering more intentionally with the University, we can better prepare for a resurgence of the virus. 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:

I maintain a list of posts related to current/recent Ward 4 construction projects:

City Council Voting Chart for Sept 21, 2020
This was the most recent “regular” City Council meeting.

DDA Survey on Healthy Streets Downtown
The DDA is collecting public opinion about the Healthy Streets Pilot Programs implemented at Miller/Catherine, Division/Broadway, S. Main, and State/North University.

City’s Housing + Affordability Survey open until Dec 14th
The City is looking for public input about affordable housing and plans for re-development of four publicly owned parcels downtown.

Floodplain Changes Workshop Zoom Meeting Oct 8th
The City is holding a Zoom meeting to cover proposed ordinance changes being considered for properties in the floodplain, a flood zone mapping demonstration and a lengthy question and answer session.

Fall Leaf Operations Season at Compost Facility to Begin Oct. 12th
Bags of fall leaves can be dropped off at the Ann Arbor Compost facility beginning Oct 12th.

Street Resurfacing (Chaucer, Mershon, Saxon, Waltham, Windsor, Winsted, Worthington, Yeoman)
The next round of street resurfacing in Ward 4 started on Oct 1st.

Street Repairs Oct 6-13 (Avondale, Coronada, Hanover Court&Road, Las Vegas, Sue, Waverly, Westfield)
This posts lists the dates of short (one to two day) road construction projects in Ward 4.

Poll Workers needed in Washtenaw County
Cities and Townships in Washtenaw County are recruiting individuals age 16 and older to serve their community as Poll Workers during the November 3, 2020 General Election.

A2COUNCIL Updates (

For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at 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 Oct 5, 2020 (7:00pm)
Electronic Meeting

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 (20-1493) October 5, 2020 Agenda Response Memo and eComments
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

Communications from the Mayor

There are no board or commision nominations from the Mayor on the agenda at the time of this newsletter was published.

Communications from Council

CC-1 (20-1436) Resolution to Appoint Lily Faris to the Environmental Commission (7 Votes Required)
This nomination is from CM Bannister and CM Smith, who serve on the Environmental Commission. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Lily Faris – Environmental Commission

Consent Agenda

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 (20-1149) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with Ann Arbor Public Schools for Cost Sharing of School Crossing Guard Expenditures

CA-2 (20-1339) Resolution Authorizing a Purchase Order with Bell Equipment Company through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) for the Rental of Three Elgin Pelican Street Sweepers ($60,540.00)

CA-3 (20-1352) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Amerinet of Michigan, Inc. for Networking Equipment, Software and Related Services to Replace Legacy Equipment and Upgrade the City’s Current Network to a Fabric Connected Network ($212,861.93)

CA-4 (20-1354) Resolution to Approve a 2020 CARES Act Agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for Reimbursing Eligible Airport Operating Expenses at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport ($69,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-5 (20-1355) Resolution to Ratify an Emergency Purchase Order Request for ATC Group Services LLC for Environmental Consulting Services ($32,893.00)

CA-6 (20-1388) Resolution Levying Certain Board Up, Clean Up, Vacant Property Inspection Fees, Housing Inspection Fees, and Fire Inspection Fees as Special Assessments and Ordering Collection Thereof

CA-7 (20-1422) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Emergency Management Performance Grant Funds and Approve FY 2020 Emergency Management Performance Grant Agreement for Ann Arbor Emergency Management Program ($44,609.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-8 (20-1426) Resolution to Approve a Grant Proposal to the USDA-NRCS FY 2020/2021 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (up to $3,145,000.00)

CA-9 (20-1476) Resolution to Approve City Administrator Recommendations regarding the 2020 Budget Priorities Citizen Survey, Approve the Contract and Purchase Order with the National Research Center/Polco to Conduct the 2020 Budget Priorities Citizen Survey and Appropriate Funding ($13,000) (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/B-1 (20-1188) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of .74 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District), 1780 Scio Church Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-20-26)
A recently annexed .74 acre parcel at 1780 Scio Church Rd. would be zoned R1C (Single Family Dwelling District), which is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.

PH-2/B-2 (20-1256) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.24, 5.29.2, 5.33.2, 5.35.2, 5.36.2 and 5.37 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) Of Title V of The Code Of The City Of Ann Arbor – Sign Regulations (ORD-20-27)
Amendments to the City’s sign ordinance would clearly define standards for lighting, area size (relative to street frontage), larger non-conforming signs, non-commercial flags, window signs and temporary signs. 

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 (20-1188) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of .74 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District), 1780 Scio Church Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-20-26)
This is the same as PH-1 above.

B-2 (20-1256) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.24, 5.29.2, 5.33.2, 5.35.2, 5.36.2 and 5.37 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) Of Title V of The Code Of The City Of Ann Arbor – Sign Regulations (ORD-20-27)
This is the same as PH-2 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 approval. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting, where it will also be subject to a public hearing.

There are no ordinance first readings at this Council meeting.

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 (20-0855) Resolution to Approve Amendment No 2 to the Recycling Plant Tours and School Recycling Education Contracts, with the Ecology Center ($8,022.25 and $106,859.00)
The City would contract with Ecology Center for Recycling Plant Tours at the Materials Recovery Facility Education Center ($8,022.25) and also School Recycling Education programs on recycling, composting, zero waste, stormwater and waste reduction for Ann Arbor and Dexter (2nd Grade stormwater only) schools. This was on the Consent Agenda at the Sept 8th Council meeting and was postponed to this meeting. Since it last appeared on our agenda, explanation of this contract has changed, to accurately describe a lower cost escalator (cost from last year to this year actually increases 3% rather than the 6% previously stated).

DC-2 (20-1482) Resolution to Accept the Revised Solid Waste Resources Management Plan (SWRMP)
This plan was previously discussed at a Council meeting on January 6, 2020 and tabled for review by staff.

This plan is quite lengthy, but includes specific proposals for residential services such as year-round compost pickup, curbside textile collection, limited bulky item collection (on a monthly schedule or at request and for a fee), and possible consolidation of waste, recycling, and compost collection services. (This “revised” plan does not include any changes from the previous plan discussed on 1/6/20.)

For commercial services, this plan proposes a new ordinance requiring operating standards and reporting for management of fats, oils, and grease. It is also recommended that commercial waste collection include compost twice a week (at least once on Saturday or Sunday), increased collection during student move-in/move-out time, better data/tracking of construction and demolition debris, ongoing inspection and enforcement to ensure compliance with waste/recycling collection requirements, and consolidation of waste, recycling, and compost collection services.

If approved, the recommendations of this plan would guide the terms of future City contracts around solid waste. Consolidation of services would be a significant change from how waste is managed currently. Collection services are now divided by material rather than customer class; Recycle Ann Arbor collects our recyclables and for most customers, the City collects both waste and compost.

DC-3 (20-1489) Resolution to Direct the City Attorney to File a Written Public Opinion on Dissolution of the DDA
This resolution directs that the City attorney provide legal advice to be shared with the public in answer to questions: Does City Council have the ability to dissolve the Downtown Development Authority (DDA)? What is the procedure for dissolving the DDA? What are the effects of dissolving the DDA? These questions have been asked internally, but legal explanations are typically classified as “Privileged and Confidential” so this resolution simply asks for information that would be available for public review.

DC-4 (20-1491) Resolution to Direct the City Administrator and City Attorney to Conduct Due Diligence and Prepare an Ordinance for Dissolution of the DDA
This resolution directs the City Administrator and City Attorney to consult with bond legal counsel, evaluate contracts and agreements, prepare cost/saving estimates and a draft ordinance for Council to consider dissolving the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

For anyone unfamiliar with the DDA (and curious to learn more about its history), I recommend reading this article from The Ann Arbor Chronicle archives:

DC-5 (20-1478) Resolution Accelerating Development of the Center of the City Community Commons and Recognizing the Self-Organized Open “Community Commons Initiating Committee” as a Community Partner in the Process
This resolution would recognize the “Community Commons Initiating Committee” as a Community Partner in the process of developing the Center of the City Community Commons (approved by ballot initiative in 2018). The City Administrator would serve as liaison, or provide a designated person as liaison, to interface with this community-based initiating committee. The City Administrator would work with the Downtown Development Authority and Republic Parking to implement repurposing of the Library Lane lot location as called for in the approved Task Force recommendations.

DS-1 (20-1481) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 20-27 – An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.24, 5.29.2, 5.33.2, 5.35.2, 5.36.2 and 5.37 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) Of Title V of The Code Of The City Of Ann Arbor – Sign Regulations
With Council approval, the revised sign ordinance (see PH-2/B-2) will be summarized to spare expense while satisfying publication requirements.

Additional thoughts…

I am hearing through the grapevine that more and more people have both received absentee ballots and are making their way to City Hall to deliver them to drop boxes at the Clerks office. My family has also received our ballots and our plan is to deliver them this way, rather than rely on the mail. Additional absentee ballot drop boxes will be available at more locations very soon, and will be published on the City’s Election website:

For those who want to take care of voting now, and do not want to rely on the mail, you can deliver them to drop off boxes in either City Hall or the new satellite location at the UM Art Museum:

City Hall

301 E Huron St
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

There are two drop boxes in City Hall: one is accessible from Huron Street and the other one is accessible from Ann Street. I took pictures of the drop boxes today:

Ann Arbor City Hall voting drop box location map Oct 2020

There is another drop-box in the vicinity of City Hall that is not intended for absentee ballots but rather for the payment of bills. It is on Ann Street and it looks like this:

Ann Arbor drop box on Ann Street is not to be used for absentee ballots - Oct 2020

Right now— well in advance of the election — ballots placed in this box can be sorted out by City staff in time to be counted, but this location is not recommended for drop-off of absentee ballots. It is expected that the contents of this box are payments for City bills, so this box will not necessarily be emptied and sorted right before election day and it is not an official collection point for absentee ballots.

UM Art Museum – City Clerk’s Satellite Office

525 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

On weekdays, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., you can also drop an absentee ballot off at the new Ann Arbor City Clerk’s satellite office at the UM Art Museum. As of Sept 28th, all Ann Arbor residents have access to this ballot box.

In completing your absentee ballot, I urge everyone to follow instructions carefully, making use of the required envelope and including your signature where it is required. Helpful information about candidates (particularly local races) can be found at Vote411, maintained by the League of Women Voters:

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson