Ann Arbor Planning Commission retreat (March 30, 2010): In a 3.5-hour retreat that covered topics from accessory dwellings to zoning, Ann Arbor’s planning commissioners started mapping out priorities for the coming year and beyond. The city’s planning staff also attended the informal session, giving background, updates and feedback for the discussion.
After reviewing ongoing efforts like the A2D2 design guidelines and sign ordinance revisions, commissioners brainstormed ideas that filled a whiteboard with potential projects, and spent much of their session trying to prioritize those ideas.
There was much overlap among the ideas and projects discussed, which included issues of sustainability, affordable housing, transportation, commercial corridor areas and the need for better citizen participation – or, as one commissioner suggested, citizen education.
The retreat, held at the Michigan Information Technology Center on South State, included a bit of a history lesson, too. Commissioners heard about previous efforts to allow more accessory dwellings in residential neighborhoods. In the late 1990s, a prior planning commission had seen accessory dwellings as a relatively non-controversial change. But backlash by some residents was harsh, with the mayor ultimately refusing to bring the recommended changes to council. Jean Carlberg, who was on city council at the time, recalled that period: “It was ugly.”
Updates on Current Projects
For the first part of the retreat, commissioners got updates from staff on several ongoing projects: A2D2 design guidelines; the R4C/R2A zoning district study; the Area, Height and Placement (AHP) project; sign ordinance revisions; historic district work; and the fiscal 2011 budget.
A2D2 Design Guidelines
Jean Carlberg asked for an update on the status of design guidelines for the A2D2 project. Alexis DiLeo, who’s managing that project, reported that a task force appointed by city council in February would be focusing on the review process – including what types of projects would be subject to design review, and who actually reviews them. The task force met on March 24 for the first time.
Wendy Rampson reported that two of the task force members – Norm Tyler and Peter Pollack – thought there would be more of a public input component to the group’s work. City councilmember Marcia Higgins made it pretty clear that the public input had already happened, Rampson said. [Other task force members are Tamara Burns, Bill Kinley and Dick Mitchell. Kirk Westfall is the planning commission representative.]
Rampson also said she sensed some relief on the part of Tyler and Pollack that the work done by a self-appointed citizens review committee, of which they’d been a part, was being respected. [The task force is charged with merging a draft of the A2D2 design guidelines, which were prepared by the consultant Winter & Co., with guidelines prepared by the citizens committee.]
Carlberg asked how much the two documents differed. DiLeo said there were wording changes – things like “provide social gathering areas” rather than “create a sense of community.” She described it as a lot of refinements. The citizens committee also didn’t like the photos in the report, so Tyler has volunteered to take new ones.
The meat of the citizens committee’s comments, DiLeo said, relate to process. They proposed that projects be reviewed by a design review board, which would provide a non-binding recommendation. Westphal clarified that they proposed a mandatory review, with voluntary compliance. He recalled that at a public forum held last year at the Kerrytown Concert House, it seemed that most people wanted a mandatory review, but there were split views about whether compliance should be mandatory or voluntary.
DiLeo said that the task force seems to be leaning toward mandatory review and voluntary compliance, but that “the lean might move as we get into it.”
R4C/R2A Zoning District Study
Tony Derezinski, who also represents Ward 2 on the city council, wondered what the timeline was for the R4C/R2A Zoning District Study. Matt Kowalski is the project manager for that effort – he reported that they were planning to hold another community workshop in April. In addition, a survey was going out in April to students who live in the R4C/R2A areas, asking about their residential preferences and whether there are any issues related to where they currently live.
Wendy Rampson asked Derezinski – who’s a member of the study committee – whether the work was progressing as he’d envisioned. He told her that he was glad they’d had so much public input, and noted that Jean Carlberg – another committee member – had brought landlords into the discussion.
No additional timetable for completion of the project was mentioned. The Chronicle followed up in an email to Rampson, who responded that the project was originally intended to wrap up in September 2010, but it’s running several months behind schedule. The delay has been caused by taking time to meet with additional stakeholders, according to Rampson.
Area, Height & Placement
Commissioner Evan Pratt asked whether there were any substantive changes in amendments to the Area, Height & Placement (AHP) project. [For a primer on AHP, see Chronicle coverage: "Zoning 101: Area, Height, Placement"] The amendments would adjust the density, height, and setback requirements of existing zoning districts.
Jeff Kahan, AHP project manager, reported that there will be at least three more public meetings on the proposal: A community forum, a public hearing at planning commission, and a public hearing at city council.
For the community forum, Jean Carlberg asked how they’d ensure that commercial interests are represented. Public meetings on AHP tend to be dominated by neighbors, she said. “This is an imbalance.” Should they be doing a different kind of outreach?
Bonnie Bona, who chairs the planning commission, pointed out that the AHP technical advisory committee had several landlords and developers involved from the beginning of the process. Wendy Rampson asked whether they should reconvene that committee, or perhaps tap the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce’s public policy group to get feedback. Diane Giannola wondered whether it would be useful to have a meeting just for business owners.
Kahan noted that he gets a “fair share” of calls from property owners and developers who are waiting to see the revised amendments. Those amendments are likely to be ready for the planning commission to review in May.
Commissioner Jean Carlberg questioned plans to dissolve the current Sign Board of Appeals and move their work to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Chris Cheng, project manager for efforts to amend Chapter 61 of the city code on sign and outdoor advertising, said one goal was to reduce the number of committees and boards. Alexis DiLeo pointed out that the Sign Board of Appeals had difficulty finding members to serve, and difficulty getting enough people to a meeting for a quorum. There will be additional training for the Zoning Board of Appeals about their new responsibilities.
Wendy Rampson reported that the former chair of the board, Steve Schweer, had quit because he was unhappy over a lack of enforcement of the sign ordinances. That’s about to change, she added – Cheng would be starting to ramp up enforcement in April. Looking somewhat glum about that prospect, Cheng said, “There are a lot of illegal signs out there.”
[The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce has notified its members of the increased enforcement. From an email newsletter sent out on March 31, 2010:]
Beginning on April 1, 2010, the City Community Standards Unit and Planning Division will contact offending businesses. Businesses will be provided with written notice to remove illegal signage within 24 hours. If prohibited signage is not removed, City staff will pursue enforcement pursuant to Section 5:518 of the City Code. Prohibited signage will be removed, and misdemeanor citations with fines ranging from $100 to $500 will issue. Illegal signage in the public right-of-way may be removed and destroyed without notice.
According to a memo from Rampson to planning commissioners, amendments are being developed to Chapter 61 aimed at removing inconsistencies in language and making the ordinance more understandable. City council will receive recommendations for changes in the next few months.
Wendy Rampson reported that Jill Thacher is doing a survey of the Old West Side historic district, identifying contributing and non-contributing structures. Jean Carlberg said it’s hard to get support on city council for historic districts, because most property owners within a proposed district don’t want it. She noted that Kristine Kidorf, who’s a project consultant on the South Fourth and South Fifth Avenue Historic District Study Committee, seems to have identified every building within the proposed district as historic. “It’s a big change,” Carlberg said.
Thacher clarified that for the proposed South Fourth/Fifth Avenue district, the boundaries were actually drawn with the intent of capturing as many contributing structures as possible, and avoiding non-contributing structures. The committee felt like all but one building – a garage – could be classified as contributing structures, she said. But because of concerns raised by Diane Giannola and others, the committee would be revisiting their recommendations. It seemed likely that by the time the proposal went to city council, a few more structures would be designated as non-contributing.
Responding to a query from one of the commissioners, Thacher explained that it was easier to do renovations – like replacing windows or adding a porch – if a structure in an historic district was designated as non-contributing.
The South Fourth/Fifth Avenue study committee plans to hold a public hearing on their recommendations in May, and submit their report to council in June. The planning commission will be discussing the committee’s draft report at their April 6 meeting.
Zoning Ordinance Reorganization (ZORO)
This project is underway to overhaul 11 chapters of the city code that are related to development. The goal is to present the material in a more concise, user-friendly way. The project is being handled by the consulting firm Clarion Associates – a draft is being reviewed by staff, and will likely be available for public review by early May. Commissioners did not discuss ZORO at the retreat, though it was noted in a list of ongoing projects.
Evaluations: A2D2 and Citizen Participation
Also on the planning commission’s To Do list is the evaluation of the city’s citizen participation ordinance, which took effect Jan. 1, 2009. [.pdf file of citizen participation ordinance] The commission will also be evaluating the new A2D2 zoning changes in the coming year. Wendy Rampson noted that a project being proposed by Zingerman’s Deli on Detroit Street is the first one that’s affected by the A2D2 zoning. [See Chronicle coverage: "Zingerman's: Making It Right for the HDC"] The second one coming along is Zaragon Place 2 at William and Thompson – developers are holding a citizen participation forum on April 12.
Fiscal 2011 Planning Budget
Responding to a query by Evan Pratt, Wendy Rampson reported that for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, the planning department’s budget includes $95,000 for a master plan update, $90,000 for a Washtenaw Avenue corridor study and $65,000 for a zoning code rewrite. The money is coming from general fund reserves for one-time projects, but they’ll use some of it for staff salaries as well, she said.
Pratt said the $95,000 for the master plan wouldn’t be sufficient to do the land use update, and Rampson agreed. It could take three times that amount for a consultant to do that work, she said.
As a final budget note, Rampson reported that the upcoming budget kept all five city planners – Chris Cheng, Alexis DiLeo, Jeff Kahan, Matt Kowalski and Jill Thacher – but they are losing some administrative support staff. She praised the staff, who all attended Tuesday night’s retreat. “You have an amazing resource with this planning staff,” she told commissioners.
Brainstorming: What’s the Big Idea?
The second part of the retreat focused on brainstorming projects that planning commissioners are interested in tackling in the coming year or more. Later there was an attempt to prioritize these ideas, which resulted in more of a conceptual exercise that revealed how some commissioners linked the different ideas being considered.
First, we’ll present the brainstorming ideas as they were proposed:
- Diane Giannola: A community-wide discussion about historic districts, and their impact on the city and on development. There can be community guidance about how strict or how loose the Historic District Commission should be. For example, she pointed out that the HDC basically ignores enforcement of paint colors.
- Bonnie Bona: A community discussion about all aspects of sustainability, and how that should inform the city’s master plan.
- Erica Briggs: Research on best practices as it relates to citizen participation. There’s frustration among some in the community that their voices aren’t being heard, she said, and frustration from staff that the same people are always in the room. City planner Jeff Kahan added a component of civil discourse – how to encourage it – and Diane Giannola said it was important to encourage people to come out in support of projects, not just in opposition.
- Eric Mahler and Evan Pratt: Pushing forward with the Washtenaw Avenue corridor study, but also to expand that effort to other corridors, including the South State Street and Plymouth Road areas.
- Jean Carlberg: Rezoning of non-conforming properties as it relates to lot size. Some older areas have very small lot sizes, she said, and that hampers what kind of work can be done in those areas.
- Tony Derezinski: Graphic modeling of potential future downtown development. There’s been a focus on development for the city-owned Library Lot, he said, but there needs to be a broader look at that entire area, including the former YMCA site and the AATA Blake Transit Center. He pointed out that the modeling should include public and private land, noting that Bill Martin owns some “nice hunks of property there.”
- Kirk Westphal: The role of land use and economic vitality, as a leg in the “sustainability stool.” The planning commission is charged with looking at land use, and in a way, he said, land is the city’s wallet – since the city gets revenue from property taxes. He wanted to see more information about budget impacts resulting from decisions on land use.
- Wendy Rampson: The Allen Creek Greenway – it’s a topic that keeps coming up, she said, and she wondered if there was a role for the planning commission in discussing it. Sue McCormick, the city’s public services area administrator, is looking at the greenway as a stormwater issue, Rampson said. In that context, she added, Jerry Hancock – Ann Arbor’s stormwater and floodplain programs coordinator – could work to acquire land, tear down houses and string together properties for a greenway. Or is that a role for planning?
- Jean Carlberg: Social sustainability, as it relates to a range of housing options. Rampson said this was known as full-spectrum housing – places to live in a wide range of affordability. Erica Briggs noted that part of the issue relates to how people spend their money – places might be affordable, but people instead choose a lifestyle that requires two cars, for example. Different transportation choices could make housing more affordable.
- Tony Derezinski: A comprehensive look at all types of transportation, including non-motorized, and how that affects development. Assuming that mass transit plays a larger role in the future, how will that affect entrances to the city? It’s broader than just the Fuller Road Station project, he said.
- Kirk Westphal: The role of TIF districts (tax increment financing) in the city’s commercial corridors, and how that relates to economic development. There are a lot of misconceptions about how the Downtown Development Authority is funded by TIF, he said. It’s worth exploring whether TIF districts would be an effective way to fund development of the city’s corridors, like Washtenaw Avenue and South State Street. The topic prompted Evan Pratt to observe: “All the entrances to town are ugly.” There need to be goals for those areas, he said, to improve them.
- Wendy Rampson: The floodplain ordinance and brownfields as a planning tool were two additional topics that the commission might consider tackling, Rampson said.
Making Connections and Prioritizing
After taking a break for dinner, the planning commissioners and planning staff discussed in more detail many of the topics they’d raised earlier in the evening.
Corridors and the Master Plan
Eric Mahler took the first crack at trying to prioritize ideas from the brainstorming session, which Wendy Rampson had written down on sticky notes and posted on a whiteboard. He noted that concepts like sustainability, transportation, fiscal impacts and such were fairly malleable, but that they all related to things that were concrete – like zoning.
With that in mind, he pulled out the corridors project, and made that the hub from which other ideas – sustainability, transportation, full-spectrum housing, etc. – tied in as spokes on a wheel. [link to image of his "world view"] Approaching a project in this way would generate a lot of public discussion, he said.
Evan Pratt said that the corridors project was at the top of his list.
Bonnie Bona observed that when viewed in the way that Mahler had organized it, the corridors project was linked closely with the master plan. The master plan really focuses on commercial districts, and that’s what the corridors are. Pratt described it as a matter of scope or scale.
Rampson said that the master plan included a section on the West Stadium Boulevard corridor, but the others corridors weren’t well-articulated. Jeff Kahan suggested that a section on the city’s corridors could be added to the master plan – it’s a document that can continue to be supplemented, he said.
Kirk Westphal said it might be useful to think of areas as “nodes” rather than corridors. That way, areas like Lowertown and Westgate could be included in the discussion. To avoid getting people bogged down in labels, Pratt had yet another suggestion – refer to them as “opportunity areas.”
Sustainability: What’s It Mean?
Jean Carlberg asked Bonnie Bona what she meant by sustainability, which Bona had brought up in the brainstorming session. Bona replied that it was something the community needed to decide: “That’s the first question – what is it?”
She added that sustainability is an all-or-nothing concept – something is either sustainable, or it isn’t. Bona also identified three elements of sustainability: environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality. “I don’t think we look at any one of them as a planning commission,” she said. [link to image of Bona's arrangement of topics, with sustainability at the hub]
Kirk Westphal said that tangentially, the commission does deal with those elements of sustainability. He also stressed the importance of looking at a “sustainability watershed” – that is, a broader geographic area within which a community is sustainable. For example, adding another resident to the city increases its carbon footprint, he said, but “do we take one for the team?” Westphal also noted that even the worst non-LEED building in the city is better than the greenest structure five miles outside of town, if you have to drive there.
The concept of sustainability also touched on fiscal impacts of development. Westphal noted that when he talked about “the city’s money” earlier in the discussion, Pratt had remarked that it’s everyone’s money. Pratt is right, Westphal said – it’s taxpayers’ money. But the positive aspects of adding to the tax base through development are rarely mentioned. People talk about “greedy developers,” but they don’t look at how the taxes generated from a development go toward plowing the streets, for example.
Pratt noted that as the tax base shrinks, the current levels of service are no longer sustainable – unless people are willing to pay more for the same services.
Jeff Kahan asked if they should care whether a project has financial benefits. Mahler said it’s a gray area. Westphal added that it’s also a question of who decides what “financial benefit” means.
Some communities talk about having the infrastructure and processes in place to be “development ready,” Rampson said. But in Ann Arbor, there tends to be a fairly antagonistic attitude toward development, with some members of the community saying they want high-quality development. In that case, Pratt quipped, “sustainability” means “don’t change anything.”
Tony Derezinski pointed out that there are generally two sides to the issue of financial benefits. Those that oppose development typically argue that the city can’t absorb more housing units, for example. Meanwhile, the developer argues that if they’re successful, they’ll generate tax revenue for the city.
Mahler noted that there’s also a distinction between residential projects and commercial projects. It doesn’t make him mad if a new residential development causes slumlords go out of business – they need to step up their game. But the same isn’t true for commercial developments, he said. At any rate, he wasn’t sure it was within the commission’s purview to make those considerations.
Diane Giannola said it seemed like they’d be overstepping their bounds to determine what types of businesses could be located in certain areas. Mahler pointed out that in a certain sense they already do this, with zoning.
Mahler then brought the discussion back to sustainability – how is it determined on a project-level basis?
Bona recounted a lecture she’d attended at the University of Michigan Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The speaker was developing computer-aided design (CAD) technology to model “interactive neighborhoods.” As an alternative to zoning districts, he’d written a program that would determine how much “happier” or “sadder” a specific site would become, depending on changes made to surrounding sites. Bona said that on a couple of recent planned unit developments (PUDs) that had been presented to planning commission, those zoning boundaries were difficult. Zoning is a hard line on the map, she said, but what difference does it make going a little bit beyond those lines? The CAD modeling approach made it possible to throw out those boundaries.
“It sounds expensive,” Mahler joked.
Rampson pointed out another issue – how would the city codify something like that? You can articulate goals, she said, but you also have to find a way to implement those goals using codes that can be applied generally.
Pratt suggested that coming up with incentives – a “bonus 2.0″ system – would be an easier way to achieve their goals, rather than changing the city’s zoning code. He noted that these ideas were all long-term visions, and he wondered where they should start. Also, he said, they didn’t seem to be winnowing down their list of projects: “We haven’t made our volume of work any less – we’ve expanded it,” he said.
Rampson told commissioners that if they wanted staff to focus on sustainability, they needed to say so – otherwise, it would be easy for staff to get diverted to other projects.
Pratt said although he’d enjoyed the conversation about sustainability, until they had even more discussion, he didn’t want to issue a staff directive to pursue it. He wanted to have a conversation about sustainability at the same time as they discussed the South State Street corridor, which he felt was a more pressing issue.
[Related to the issue of exploring sustainability, Bona has scheduled a joint meeting of the city's planning, environmental and energy commissions on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 in the lower level conference room of the county administration building, 200 N. Main St. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m.]
Citizen Participation – or Education – and Civil Discourse
Tony Derezinski picked up the topic of citizen participation that Erica Briggs had introduced during the brainstorming session. Taking that as the hub, he arranged the other topics around it, noting that public input was central to everything they did. [link to image of Derezinski's organization of topics]
Right now, the community is at a threshold, as it tries to re-envision what it wants to become, he said. Regardless of the subject – whether it’s historic districts, or affordable housing, or alternative transportation – how does the planning commission overcome misconceptions to get out the truth?
Diane Giannola agreed, but added that instead of citizen participation, she’d call it citizen education. Derezinski suggested changing “citizen” to “community.”
Often, the public just doesn’t understand things like historic districts or accessory dwellings, Giannola said. She suggested incorporating a lecture or educational component into each of the commission’s meetings.
Alexis DiLeo recalled a project in the past – one that “withered on the vine” – related to “road dieting” and street standards. She said she spent a lot of time “educating” the engineering staff about the benefits of narrower roads, while they spent time “educating” her about the advantages of wider roads. She cautioned that while planning commissioners might think they needed to educate people about the benefits of higher density, some residents might think the reverse is true – that the planning commission should be educated on the value of low density.
Giannola said she thought of it more as trying to inform, rather than convince.
Pratt said he thought citizen participation was something they could work on constantly. The frustration he had was that after decisions are made, people who don’t like the decision continue to chip away at it. That’s the part of the process that could be more civil, he said.
Briggs contended that there were simple thing that could be done, like answering emails. Conspiracy theories develop when people send an email and no one responds, she said. Rampson said that responding was sometimes difficult when emails came at 6 p.m. on the evening of a planning commission meeting. She noted that they’d discussed setting up an automated response, something that would email a reply to the sender acknowledging that their message had been received.
Westphal expressed some skepticism that it was possible to reach everyone. He reported that he’d encountered someone he knew who was a graduate student in urban planning, and who lived close by to the proposed Moravian project. Even though she was a highly engaged person interested in urban planning issues, she didn’t know about it, he said. “I don’t want to rain on the education parade, but …”
City planner Alexis DiLeo floated what she described as a possible one-year project: The rezoning of non-conforming neighborhoods, and possibly revisiting the accessory dwellings issue. Though there had been “community discontent” over accessory dwellings the last time changes had been proposed, maybe in light of the economic downturn, she said, it was worth another look.
Kirk Westphal asked for a description of what happened the last time it was proposed, and Wendy Rampson provided a bit of background. People were using accessory dwellings illegally, she said – it was something the market was pushing. The proposal to change city code to allow for accessory dwellings came out of a 1999 blue ribbon committee on affordable housing, which proposed various strategies to increase affordable housing stock. It was seen as a way to achieve that goal without new buildings, she said.
Staff and planning commissioners at the time – including Margaret Leary and Sandy Arlinghaus – thought of it as “low-hanging fruit,” Rampson recalled.
As an aside, Leary had used that exact phrase at a meeting of the Ann Arbor District Library board in December 2009, when board members heard University of Michigan student proposals for development on the city-owned Library Lot. From The Chronicle report of that meeting:
Leary described her experience as a former Ann Arbor planning commissioner, noting that the commission couldn’t even get approval to allow accessory dwelling units in the city – a zoning change that was originally seen as low-hanging fruit, she said, but that was “flattened” after two years of public debate.
How is it possible to focus on the greater community good, she asked, when some people will pick apart each project based on their own pet goals, from affordable housing to green space? Even when those goals are desirable for the community overall, if every project is forced to address them, then creative development is stymied.
At Tuesday’s retreat, Rampson said that people on the Old West Side generally didn’t have a problem with it, since the area had a history of carriage houses and outbuildings. But some residents of North Burns Park and the Orchard Hills-Maplewood neighborhoods opposed the plan. They’d had problems with unscrupulous landlords packing houses full of renters, she said, and felt that accessory dwellings would be used to exploit their neighborhoods for student housing.
After intense debate – which Jean Carlberg described as “ugly” – the planning staff was directed to stop work on the project. “I’ve never had a situation where the mayor refused to take something before council, but that’s what happened,” Rampson said.
Because it was seen as low-hanging fruit, it’s possible that there wasn’t sufficient education and communication about the proposal, Rampson added. Jeff Kahan noted that student neighborhoods had been excluded from allowing accessory dwellings, but even so, people were concerned that duplexes would be allowed.
Accessory dwellings can be used to increase density incrementally, Rampson said, and it especially makes sense in times of economic distress. It would be useful for older adults who want to stay in their homes but who need some help, or for people who need some extra income to cover their mortgage. She reported that in California, the state legislature mandated that accessory dwellings be incorporated into local zoning laws – that measure was necessary because there was such resistance to change on the local level.
There is a way to achieve an accessory dwelling unit now, by applying for a special exception use. Only one such application has been made in more than a decade. Rampson said the process required to get the special exception – which includes a public hearing – likely has a chilling effect. The special exception use also differs from an accessory dwelling in that only someone who’s related to the property owner can live there, and no rent can be charged.
Who Takes the Lead?
Jeff Kahan wondered whether the city council had directives for planning that hadn’t been discussed so far. He noted that of the list of projects underway, half of them had been requests from council. What role do councilmembers want to play in this process – how much do they want to be involved?
Evan Pratt said he was leery of asking staff to pursue a major initiative, without having some kind of discussion with the city council. Tony Derezinski, who presents Ward 2 on city council and is a planning commissioner, said it was his role to keep his council colleagues apprised about what the planning commission was doing. But the council should show some deference to the planning commission, he said, just as planning commissioners should show deference to staff. “There’s a sequence of deference there,” he said.
Communication will also happen in other ways, Derezinski said – there’s a lot of informal discussion among councilmembers, so “council will know what’s going on,” he said, describing it as an “informal network of information.”
Rampson weighed in on the issue too. Planning commissioners have been appointed to be “the voice of planning in the city,” she said. City code supports that view, she added: “You’ve been appointed to provide that leadership in the community.”
Yet as the retreat came to a close, Rampson said her sense was that the group hadn’t reached a consensus about priorities, and others agreed they needed more discussion. Bonnie Bona noted that organizing the ideas by creating “wheels” had been helpful in showing the interconnectedness of topics, but that also made it difficult to pull out individual topics and prioritize them.
The commission plans follow-up discussions in the coming months.
Present: Commissioners Bonnie Bona, Erica Briggs, Jean Carlberg, Tony Derezinski, Diane Giannola, Eric Mahler, Evan Pratt, Kirk Westphal. Staff: Wendy Rampson, Chris Cheng, Alexis DiLeo, Jeff Kahan, Matthew Kowalski, Jill Thacher.
Absent: Comissioner Wendy Woods.