Fourth Ward Newsletter (December 2, 2018)

Dec 2, 2018 | Newsletter

Hello, Ward 4 neighbors!

This week on Ann Arbor City Council, we have two public hearings, a motion to reconsider an issue from last week, and a few new resolutions.  We will also be doing a bit of preparation for the coming year, establishing a calendar and assigning “jobs” among our members.  Council members will be asked to act as liaisons for various citizen commissions (e.g. Energy Commission, Human Rights Commission) or become members of sub-committees within City Council (e.g. Rules, Council Policy Agenda). 

Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours today (Sunday) 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.

A2ELNEL coffee hours Dec 3 2018

Another upcoming event:  a Community Climate Conversation at the Ann Arbor Downtown Public Library this Friday, December 7th from 6 – 8 p.m. More details available are available on Facebook:

Ann Arbor community climate conversation Dec 7 2018

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:

Volunteer Boards and Commissions  Membership on these 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 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
December 3, 2018 7:00pm

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.

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  Resolution to Petition the State of Michigan Boundary Commission to Annex Various Parcels from the Charter Township of Ann Arbor, the Charter Township of Pittsfield, and Scio Township
This is the formal decision to annex “township island” property parcels in Ann Arbor Township, Scio Township, and Pittsfield township into the city of Ann Arbor. This issue was previously discussed at a Council meeting on October 1 and it was postponed for a public hearing and vote at this week’s meeting. Impacted property clusters are located on Bird Road, Hampstead Lane, Newport Road, S. State Street, Victoria Circle, Warrington Circle, Eisenhower Parkway, Stone School Rd., Allison Drive, Barber Avenue, Dexter Road, Kingwood Street, Miller Rd., Porter Avenue, Valley Drive, S. Wagner, and Westover Avenue (for precise addresses, follow the link above for full text).

PH-2  An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:22a of Chapter 27 (Water) and Section 2:42.2 of Chapter 28 (Sanitary Sewer) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Connection Requirements)
This was discussed last week, and is relevant to Township island property owners who anticipate being annexed into the city.  Residents recently expressed concerns at City Council about the financial hardship of water/sewer connection fees, the relatively short timeline between written notification of annexation and required payment. This amendment effectively extends that timeline by 18 months.

New/Unfinished Business

DC-1  Motion to Reconsider the November 19, 2018 Vote that supported the Resolution No. 1 – Prepare Plans and Specifications for the Fuller Road Sidewalk – Sidewalk Special Assessment Project (File 18-1276)
City staff will plan for Fuller Road sidewalk improvements near Huron High School, in anticipation of moving a crosswalk further west (away from the current location near the Gallup Park entrance). This issue was previously discussed and approved by a vote at our previous meeting, but it is being brought back for another vote.

DC-2,3,4,5,6,7 Adoption of Council Rules, Calendar, and Appointments
As I mentioned above, Council will be establishing a calendar for 2019 and assigning “jobs” among our members. Council members will be designated to act as liaisons for various citizen commissions and boards or become members of sub-committees within City Council.  

DC-8  Resolution to Provide Support for Best-Value/Negotiated Agreements
I wrote this resolution to increase communication from staff to City Council about proposals from vendors and service-providers. This is meant to be helpful in those situations where the city receives proposals from multiple vendors or service providers and more than one option meets our needs. City Council would receive more detailed information about staff’s evaluation of all of the proposals, including their assessment of best choices. 

DC-9  Resolution to Improve Transparency of City Boards, Task Forces, Commissions and Committees
I wrote this resolution to address concerns that minutes from boards and commissions are not publicized in a timely manner. This is aimed at improving the process for sharing information with the public and keeping us in compliance with State law. There is a significant but unavoidable procedural delay in approving minutes from Boards and Commissions: first, the minutes must be approved by the board/commission that created them and then they are submitted for approval by City Council. Currently, these minutes only become available online once they reach Council for approval. Staff will explore the feasibility of having draft (unapproved) minutes from boards and commissions publicized in a more timely manner via Legistar.

DC-10  Resolution to Express the City of Ann Arbor’s Opposition to SB 1188, the so-called Vegetation Removal Pre-emption Bill
The city of Ann Arbor is offering formal opposition to a state bill (under consideration now) that would prevent local units of government from passing ordinances or other charter provisions that prohibit the removal of trees or other vegetation. If passed at the state level, this would limit our ability to protect and promote urban green space. In the state bill, local municipalities may only protect a “heritage tree,” according to the state’s limited definition of “heritage tree.”

DC-11  Resolution Regarding Next Steps for Pedestrian Safety Improvements at Fuller Road Crosswalk
This relates to recent discussion re: Plans and Preparations for the Fuller Road Sidewalk (see DC-1). This resolution references a 2016 Road Safety Audit (RSA) and asks for 180 days of further evaluation of options, given current conditions and community concerns. This evaluation would consider improvements made since 2016 and include a price-estimate for additional improvements proposed by the RSA (e.g. gateway treatment, road refuge).

DS-2  Resolution No. 2 – Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Project – Sidewalk Special Assessment
This resolution would approve plans to install sidewalks on Brookside (between Delafield and Pontiac), the northwest quadrant of Barton Dr. and Starwick Dr., Traver Street (between John A Woods and Barton Dr.), and John A Woods Dr. (between Pontiac and Pear Street), as proposed by the Ann Arbor STEAM Safe Routes to School committee. Affected property owners have expressed concerns about the impact of this plan, e.g. removal of mature trees, expense. Cost to property owners will be $48/ft. If passed, Ann Arbor would receive $400,000 in federal grant money as part of the Safe Routes to School program.   

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.

Ann Arbor City Council consent agenda December 3, 2018

Additional thoughts…

Since the last Council meeting, the bulk of my emails have been on three topics:

  • Deer cull
  • Use of the millage rebate funds
  • Proposed sidewalk installation on Traver

I appreciate hearing your concerns and I am committed to understanding all of these issues to the best of my ability.

This past Wednesday night, I spent hours with veterinarians and other volunteers who were working on the most recent round of deer sterilization. I had a lot of preconceived notions about this process before I saw it for myself. I learned a lot. Around the issue of deer, generally, I am most interested in seeing data re: the impact of our recent efforts (both in sterilization and culling). This year’s cull is the final year of a plan, put in place by a previous Council. I hear your concerns and I strive to be thoughtful in considering next steps once this four-year plan is concluded. I know that residents are passionate about this issue— please continue to reach out to me with your thoughts.

On the issue of millage rebate funds, I have mostly heard from residents advocating that it be used to address affordable housing needs. I share your concern that these needs are under-funded. It is my expectation and hope that affordable housing needs are prioritized in our ongoing conversation about the use of these funds. I was sorry to miss a meeting this weekend on the topic of affordable housing— thank you to those who invited me (I was too ill to attend).

Last Thursday, I met with a resident on Traver so that I could see this location for myself and better understand the concerns of property owners. It is clear to me that installing these sidewalks will have a significant impact. However, as balanced against the loss of federal money (both now and in the near future) and the expressed needs of the school community, I am hopeful about finding a creative solution or compromise. Again, I appreciate everyone reaching out with their thoughts. 

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson