Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (September 7, 2020)

Sep 7, 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.

Our meeting is delayed to Tuesday this week, due to the Labor Day holiday. The biggest Ward 4 item on the agenda this week is the annexation of the Valhalla property just south of the intersection of Scio Church and South Main. This agenda item annexes 13 township islands into the City. This property will be the subject of future discussion re: zoning and redevelopment. (See agenda item PH-3/DB-2 below.)

This week, many in our community anticipate the beginning of a very different kind of school year. Children at AAPS will learn online instead of in-person. Teachers at all grade levels are planning to teach in new ways from a distance. Parents are making plans for children to be at home rather than at school. I know that many of us in Ann Arbor are also watching and waiting to see what happens among the university population in town.

Our consent agenda includes two items that are about students, both younger and older. Item CA-10 will fund a modest benefit ($500 per month) to City employees with young children who require supervision for online schooling. City Hall is like many workplaces: working parents are struggling to piece together at-home arrangements for school-aged children. Item CA-7 defines hours/location for a satellite office of our City Clerk, so that University students interested in voting this November will be able to register for and access absentee ballots at the University Art Museum, located at 525 S. State Street.

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:

Virtual Coffee Hour
Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, I will not be holding virtual coffee hours this week. I will resume holding virtual coffee hours on Sunday afternoons before scheduled City Council meetings for the next meeting.

Council Caucus
Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, Council Caucus was held last week (Sunday August 30th)

City Council
Tuesday Sept 8th 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.

Local COVID-19 Information and Links

City of Ann Arbor COVID-19 Updates

Washtenaw County COVID-19 Updates

State of Michigan COVID-19 Updates

Ann Arbor Public Schools have released 2020-21 school year plans
School district homepage:
Reimagine Learning 2020-21:

Ann Arbor District Library branches are re-opening in phases
Library homepage:
Re-opening Updates:

University of Michigan – Fall classes to be delivered in variety of formats
University homepage:
University COVID-19 Plan: 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 Aug 17, 2020

City Council Voting Chart for Aug 24, 2020

DTE Planned Power Outage (Sept 14th 8:30-9:30am) Traffic Signals Affected
DTE will be performing system improvement work at the new substation on State Street, affecting the following traffic signals: Eisenhower & State, Ann Arbor Saline & W. Eisenhower, Briarwood & S. State, I-94 Exit/Entrance Ramp (North of X-way)

Granger Rd closed from South State to Packard (Aug 19 – Oct 3)
Granger Avenue is closed to through traffic in both directions between South State Street and Packard Street.

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
Tuesday Sept 8, 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-2 (20-1363) September 8, 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 (20-1320) Resolution to Appoint Elizabeth Lillard to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission
This nomination is from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Elizabeth Lillard – Greenbelt Advisory 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 (20-0855) 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)

CA-2 (20-1207) Resolution Authorizing a Purchase Order to Washtenaw County for the City of Ann Arbor’s FY 2021 Share of the Maintenance of the Shared 800 MHz Simulcast System ($25,600.00)

CA-3 (20-1199) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Seaway Painting, LLC to Rehabilitate the Pool Slide Stair Structure at Veterans Memorial Park ($52,350.00)(ITB No. 4634).

CA-4 (20-1195) Resolution to Name City Property at 385 E. Eisenhower “Willow Nature Area” and Designate as Park Land

CA-5 (20-1234) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office for Judicial Information System Costs for FY 2021 ($47,250.00)

CA-6 (20-1235) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Bellefeuil, Szur and Associates, Inc. (“BS&A”) for Annual Software Maintenance and Support for FY2021 ($27,813.00).

CA-7 (20-1250) Resolution to Approve the Location and Hours of a City Clerk Satellite Office on the University of Michigan Campus for the November 2020 General Election

CA-8 (20-1192) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Reimbursement Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for Work Related to the Environmental Assessment Study for the Proposed Safety Extension of Runway 6/24 at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport ($23,166.67)

CA-9 (20-1193) Resolution to Approve a Grant Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Reimbursement Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for Work Related to the Environmental Assessment Study for the Proposed Safety Extension of Runway 6/24 at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport ($27,915.00)

CA-10 (20-1329) Resolution to Direct the City Administrator to Create a Temporary Child Care Benefit for City of Ann Arbor Employees, and to Appropriate Funds ($580,000) for the Child Care Benefit (8 Votes Required)

CA-11 (20-1336) Resolution to Approve the City of Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Agreement for 1140 Broadway with Morningside Maiden Lane, LLC and Morningside Broadway, LLC

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 (20-1042) An Ordinance to Amend Title VII (Businesses and Trades) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor by Adding a New Chapter Which Shall be Designated as Chapter 97 (Short-Term Rentals) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-24)
If approved, short term rentals will be licensed and regulated by the City. Licensing will require payment of a fee and application that includes: address, type of property, number of bedrooms for rent, maximum permitted occupancy, and names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of two contact persons responsible for the Short-Term Rental Unit. A principal residence may be licensed as a short term rental (either host-stays or whole house rental) if the property owner submits a sworn statement that the licensed dwelling unit is a principal residence of the applicant. A non-principal residence short-term rental will only be permitted in Mixed Use Zoning districts. (See Legistar link for map.)

PH-2/DB-1 (20-1136) Resolution to Approve Home2 Hotel Site Plan and Development Agreement, 361 West Eisenhower Parkway (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A four story hotel with 115 rooms/115 parking spaces is planned for 361 W. Eisenhower, with access off of Signature Blvd. This site plan reflects advice from Planning Staff about the location of the parking (behind, rather than in front of the building). The facade visible from Eisenhower has also been improved. Petitioners will help fund construction and installation of a crosswalk on Eisenhower. This hotel will replace a one story office building.

PH-3/DB-3 (20-1236) Resolution to Approve the Valhalla Annexation, 9.8 Acres, 31, 50, 57, 77, 97, 98, 107, 145, 147, 151, 155, 159, 163 Valhalla Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 1 Nay)
An area of 15 parcels (13 of which are township islands) would be annexed into the City. The “Valhalla” property is located on the east side of South Main Street near the intersection of Scio Church Road, north of Ann Arbor Saline Road and adjacent to University of Michigan’s golf course. Six houses currently exist in this area. City planning staff recommend future zoning of R1D, which would be consistent with the Master Plan Future Land Use and would permit the development of 84 dwelling units, maximum. The City Planning Commission recommends future zoning of conditional R4E, which would permit the development of 454 dwelling units.

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 (20-1042) An Ordinance to Amend Title VII (Businesses and Trades) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor by Adding a New Chapter Which Shall be Designated as Chapter 97 (Short-Term Rentals) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-24)
This is the same as PH-1 above.

Note that the following two items did not have a First Reading. As answered in this weeks Questions to the Agenda: “neither a site plan nor annexation requires two readings. These items are placed on the agenda for closer proximity to the corresponding public hearings for those that are interested in the outcome of the items.”

DB-1 (20-1136) Resolution to Approve Home2 Hotel Site Plan and Development Agreement, 361 West Eisenhower Parkway (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.

DB-2 (20-1236) Resolution to Approve the Valhalla Annexation, 9.8 Acres, 31, 50, 57, 77, 97, 98, 107, 145, 147, 151, 155, 159, 163 Valhalla Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 1 Nay)
This is the same as PH-3 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.

C-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)
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.

C-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
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.

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 (20-1083) Resolution to Amend the Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) Funding Policy
Changes are proposed for funding Other Postemployment Benefits. Amendments would change the goal of funding for the City of Ann Arbor Retiree Health Care Benefits Plan from 100% to 90%. Additional funds would be reserved in the City’s Risk Fund to achieve 100% funding if needed.

DC-2 (20-1350) Resolution to Refer Ordinance to Amend Sections 3:16 and 3:17 of Chapter 40 (Trees and Other Vegetation) of Title III of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to the Environmental Commission for Consideration
Ordinance amendments re: permitted vegetation on private property were considered by Council on June 1, 2020 and then referred to the Commission on Disability Issues and the Transportation Commission. This resolution would refer those ordinance amendments to the Environmental Commission as well.

Additional thoughts…

Two fairly significant items on this week’s agenda are, unfortunately, two issues that I have been given the least information about. In agenda item INT-2, Council will hear a “Review of Draft Tentative Agreement” with the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association, but there are no files attached to this item on Legistar. I have received no additional information as a member of Council. A presentation about this tentative agreement was given to our Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (ICPOC), who are also speaking to us at Tuesday’s meeting (INT-3). I am particularly interested in hearing ICPOC’s response to the updated agreement.

The other big item on our agenda this week is the second reading for the Short Term Rental ordinance. At first reading, we requested legal advice about this ordinance and we asked, also, that this advice be given in time for us to ask questions. Council received a confidential legal memo late this past Thursday night and I have sent a number of questions to our legal staff. I hope to get answers to them before our meeting on Tuesday.

Good luck to everyone for whom this week is significant! I am beginning a new preschool year, teaching in person but with very different classroom procedures/precautions. My own teenage children are old enough not to need supervision for online learning, but I do want to express my sympathies to every family struggling with that. Ann Arbor is increasingly a community of wealth and privilege but I worry a lot about families with less. If you know of any organizations or programs in need of support, please reach out to me. I like to use this newsletter to promote (and raise awareness about) opportunities to make a positive difference in our community.

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson