Fourth Ward Newsletter (January 20, 2019)

Jan 20, 2019 | Newsletter

Hello, Ward 4 neighbors!

This week on Ann Arbor City Council, we have a very long consent agenda, eight public hearings, five second-readings of ordinances, one ordinance amendment (first reading), and some new business that includes re-zoning, plan approvals, and settlement of a lawsuit.

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 Jan 20 2019

A few more updates…

Due to the holiday Monday, this week’s meeting is on Tuesday. All of our usual activities around the agenda are extended by one day, but the timing is still rather tight.

For anyone who might be curious about how City Council prepares for a meeting, the following is a timeline:

  • Thursday, late afternoon: City Council receives an agenda and packet of supporting documents, with all the items set to be discussed or voted on the following Monday.
  • Friday (sometimes): City Council might be emailed updates and additions to the agenda. (Members of council might have added items to the agenda or city staff might have added to it.)
  • Monday, before 10 a.m.: Members of Council email “questions to the agenda” to the city administrator or city attorney, about issues up for discussion at that evening’s meeting.
  • Monday, 4:30 p.m.: Members of council receive responses to their questions, for reference before the 7 p.m. meeting. (Note: these questions/responses are available to be viewed on Legistar.)

These “questions to the agenda” are important. Sometimes, we ask fewer questions in a meeting simply because our questions were already answered in writing. Sometimes, there are so many written questions that the responses are quite long, and we receive them just a couple hours before the meeting. Sometimes, our discussion at the Council table is long and tedious, because it is our only opportunity to exchange all perspectives at once— the Open Meetings Act prevents us from having group discussions on these topics outside of the public meeting.

Important Ward 4 News…

There will be a public meeting about the Snyder/Edgewood Avenues Area Stormwater Improvement Project

Wednesday January 30 (7-8:30 PM)
Pioneer High School
Cafeteria Annex

I posted an entry on my blog under “Ward 4 News” about this meeting:

You can find out more information on the City website here:

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
Monday January 22, 2019 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/B-1 (18-1826) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:64 of Chapter 29 (Change Sewer Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Ordinance No. ORD-18-33)

This is an increase of sewer rates by 7%, across the board. Our public works department tells us that this increase is necessary in order to cover the cost of service and necessary equipment updates. (A combined water/sewer rate increase was considered at the 1/7/19 meeting and the two categories were separated. Considered as separate amendments, the water rate increase failed and the sewer rate increase passed.)

PH-2/B-2 (18-1945) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of two adjacent lots totaling 1.6 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District) to R2A (Two-Family District) 3786 & 3802 Platt Road Rezoning (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-18-34)

This would combine two empty, adjacent lots on Platt (totaling 1.6 acres) and rezone them from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R2A (two-family district) to allow a duplex unit on each parcel. The lots are located at 3786 and 3802 Platt Road.

PH-3/DB-1 (18-1946) Resolution to Approve the 3786 & 3802 Platt Road Area Plan (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This approves the general proposal for duplex dwellings on Platt Road, subject to specific site plan approval. Two new duplex buildings are proposed on two parcels (3786/3802 Platt) with a shared driveway.

PH-4/B-3 (18-1993) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.76 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1D (Single-Family Residential District), Flannery Property, 2883 Stone School Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-18-35)

This will zone a property on the east side of Stone School Road (between the Packard/Stone School split and Ticknor Court) as single-family residential district (R1D). It is an amendment not because of a change in zoning but because this parcel was previously a township island and was recently annexed.

PH-5/B-4 (19-0001) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 7:605 and 7:607 of Chapter 96 (Medical Marijuana Facilities) of Title VII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Ordinance No. ORD-19-01)

This amends our medical marijuana facilities ordinance to clarify that, since the passage of Prop 1, marijuana will be regulated at the state level and the state will issue operating licenses. (The city will continue to regulate the establishment and location of new businesses via permits.)

PH-6/B-5 (19-0021) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 1:240D, 1:240E and 1:240F of Chapter 9 (City Seal and Flag) of Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor

This would amend an ordinance passed by City Council six months ago. The first version of the ordinance was approved on July 2, 2018, and banned non-official use of the city seal or flag by anyone without specific approval from the Mayor. (The Michigan ACLU challenged the 7/2/18 ordinance as overly broad and unconstitutional.) As amended, this version of the ordinance no longer requires specific approval from the Mayor for non-official use of the seal/flag. However, it prohibits non-official use of the city seal/flag for the purpose of obtaining anything of value; it also prohibits the sale of items that display the city seal/flag in a manner that implies city approval or endorsement.

PH-7/DB-2 (18-2109) Resolution to Approve the Ganger Annexation, .52 Acre, 2660 Apple Way (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

A township island at 2660 Apple Way will be annexed into the city. After annexation, it will be zoned R1B (Single-Family District).

PH-8/DB-3 (18-2059) Resolution to Approve ITC Phoenix Utility Substation Planned Project Site Plan, at 2001 Dhu Varren Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This will allow for the expansion of an existing utility substation and the construction of a 100 foot tall monopole, a 70 foot tall lighting mast, and a 65 foot tall H frame structure on 12.87 acres at 2001 Dhu Varren Road.

Ordinances (First Reading)

C-1 (19-0089) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 108 (Disorderly Conduct) of Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Add a New Section 9:69 (Trespass)

As described by city staff: this “will afford the Ann Arbor Police Department the option to cite an individual for criminal trespass under the City Code, in lieu of sending a warrant request to the County Prosecutor’s Office. The issuance of a trespass citation under the City Code will afford the receiving party an immediate notice as to when to appear in the 15th District Court.” The Human Rights Commission approved this ordinance and the police department reviewed it.

Unfinished/New Business

DS-1 (18-1331) Resolution to Authorize a Professional Services Agreements with Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. (OHM) for the Lower Town Area Mobility Study (RFP No. 18-21) ($579,478.00) and Appropriate Funding from the Major Street Fund Balance ($649,478.00) (8 Votes Required)

Postponed from the 11/19/18 meeting, this revisits the Lower Town traffic study proposal, after staff was directed to provide more consideration/negotiation re: cost. Aspects of the original proposal have been adjusted with the consultant, e.g. there will be four public engagement meetings (instead of five) and some in-person meetings between City Staff and consultants will be replaced with conference calls. Proposed changes reduce the cost of the study from $662,992 to $579,478.

DS-2 (19-0148) Resolution to Direct the City Attorney to Settle Kailasapathy v City of Ann Arbor, et al., Case No. 18-682-CZ by Stipulating to an Injunction

The lawsuit between the City of Ann Arbor and CMs Bannister and Kalisapathy would be settled with stipulation that Proposal A prevents the city from selling the property of the Library Lot.

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 Jan 22 2019 part 1
Ann Arbor City Council consent agenda Jan 22 2019 part 2

Additional thoughts…

Since our last meeting, I’ve received emails from residents mostly on two topics: the Greenbelt purchase voted down at our last meeting (1/7/19) and the new trespass ordinance up for discussion this week.

Apparently our Greenbelt vote was unprecedented. Previously, every proposed Greenbelt purchase has been approved, regardless of how neighboring municipalities have (or have not) shared in the cost to subsidize them. I voted with the majority in rejecting last week’s proposal, because I only heard negative arguments at the council table: the city would shoulder a particularly high percentage of the cost and neighboring communities were not contributing. Since our vote, a number of key stakeholders have reached out to City Council to clarify some details— I expect that the issue will be brought back for reconsideration at this week’s meeting.

In this week’s agenda summary, I have not been able to offer much of my own understanding of the new trespass ordinance. I have copied and pasted explanation from Legistar (Council has not been given additional information about it). I have many questions for our legal staff and police department. Apparently, we are already citing people for trespass but the process is awkward for the person being cited; there is a long delay between the initial citation, followup notice, and court hearing. This new ordinance is meant to be an improvement on the current process of citation for trespass, but I have many questions about its implementation. Primarily, I am concerned that if the process is made that much easier, can we expect increased use of this citation against our most vulnerable residents? I hope to receive more detailed explanation at this week’s meeting (or in response to questions to the agenda).

I thank you for reaching out with concerns. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to hear your perspectives— it is helpful to me!

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson