Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (July 11, 2013): GAC’s first meeting of the fiscal year was relatively brief, lasting less than an hour – including about 35 minutes in closed session to discuss possible land acquisition.
It was the first meeting for the newest commissioner, Jennifer Fike, who replaced Laura Rubin. The last meeting for long-time commissioners Rubin, Dan Ezekiel and Tom Bloomer was on June 6, 2013. Jean Cares, owner of the Dexter Mill, was nominated at the Ann Arbor city council’s July 1 meeting to replace Bloomer, with a confirmation vote expected by the council on July 15.
Also on July 15, John Ramsburgh’s name is expected to be put forward to replace Ezekiel, with a confirmation vote on Aug. 8. If those two appointments go through, all seats on the greenbelt advisory commission would be filled.
Commissioners elected new officers on July 11, unanimously voting for Catherine Riseng as chair and Shannon Brines as vice chair. Both work at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment. Riseng, an aquatic ecologist, is a research program manager at SNRE, while Brines is manager of SNRE’s environmental spatial analysis (ESA) lab. Brines also runs Brines Farm near Dexter.
At their July 11 meeting, commissioners also received news about the city’s 2013 application to the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP). The city is receiving grants totaling about $220,000 for land preservation of two properties in Lodi Township: (1) a portion of the Donald Drake farm along Waters Road; and (2) the Carol Schumacher farm along Pleasant Lake Road.
Officer Elections, New Commissioners
Officer elections for chair and vice chair of the greenbelt advisory commission are scheduled for the first meeting of the city’s new fiscal year, which began July 1. GAC’s vice chair, Catherine Riseng, was absent from the July 11 meeting but had indicated an interest in serving as chair. Former chair Dan Ezekiel was term limited, and his last meeting was in June.
Shannon Brines, who chaired the July 11 meeting in Riseng’s absence, joked about nominating himself for vice chair but was subsequently nominated by Jennifer Fike for that position.
There were no other nominations.
Outcome: On separate unanimous voice votes, Catherine Riseng and Shannon Brines were elected chair and vice chair, respectively.
Fike, the finance director of the Huron River Watershed Council, attended her first meeting as commissioner since being confirmed by the city council on June 3, 2013. She replaces Laura Rubin, HRWC’s executive director. There are two additional openings: for a farmer to replace Tom Bloomer, and for a general public position to replace Ezekiel. Bloomer, Ezekiel and Rubin were all term limited, with terms ending on June 30.
During GAC’s June 6 meeting, Bloomer had indicated that he had submitted a name for consideration to fill the farmer position.
Subsequently, Jean Cares was nominated at the city council’s July 1 meeting to replace Bloomer, with a confirmation vote expected by the council on July 15. Cares owns the Dexter Mill, and serves with Bloomer on the Webster Township farmland and open space board.
On July 11, Christopher Taylor – who serves on the Ann Arbor city council and is the council’s representative on GAC – reported that John Ramsburgh’s name will be put forward at the council’s July 15 meeting to replace Ezekiel, with a confirmation vote expected on Aug. 8.
Ramsburgh is a development officer with the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science & the Arts. He also is the son of Ellen Ramsburgh, a long-time member of the Ann Arbor historic district commission, and its former chair.
Nominations for service on most city boards and commissions are made by the mayor. However, nominations for service on the greenbelt advisory commission are made by the council.
Ginny Trocchio, who provides staff support to the greenbelt program, reported that the city finally received word about the status of a 2013 application to the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP). The city is receiving grants totaling about $220,000 for two properties in Lodi Township: (1) a portion of the Donald Drake farm – 72 acres along Waters Road; and (2) the Carol Schumacher farm – about 100 acres along Pleasant Lake Road.
The city council will be asked to accept these grants at its Aug. 8 meeting, followed by formal recommendations for the actual purchase of development rights later this year. Trocchio hopes to close the deals by the end of 2013.
Trocchio also noted that the greenbelt program will have a table at the Sept. 7 Homegrown Festival in Ann Arbor, and a tentative date of Sept. 21 has been set for the next greenbelt bus tour.
Most meetings of the greenbelt advisory commission include a closed session to discuss possible land acquisitions. The topic of land acquisition is one allowed as an exemption by the Michigan Open Meetings Act for a closed session. On July 11, commissioners met in a closed session that lasted about 35 minutes, then emerged and voted on two recommendations that will be forwarded to the city council.
Before appearing on the city council’s agenda, details of proposed greenbelt acquisitions are not made public. Parcels are identified only by their application number, with the first four numbers signifying the year in which the application was made.
On July 11, commissioners recommended that the city council amend a previous GAC recommendation regarding property identified in application number 2013-01. The amended recommendation is for the city to partner with Ann Arbor Township on that property and contribute up to $15,333 for the purchase of development rights – an estimated 33% of the purchase price – or to contribute up to $23,000 on the purchase of an easement, if Washtenaw County parks & recreation purchases the property outright.
The second resolution was to recommend that the city partner with Washtenaw County parks & recreation for the purchase of a deed title on a property identified by application number 2013-03 and contribute up to $32,200 toward the purchase price.
Outcome: In two separate votes, commissioners unanimously passed the resolutions. These items will be forwarded to the city council for consideration.
Next meeting: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. in the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. [Check Chronicle event listings to confirm date] The meetings are open to the public and include two opportunities for public commentary.
Present: Peter Allen, Shannon Brines, Stephanie Buttrey, Archer Christian, Jennifer Fike, Christopher Taylor. Staff: Ginny Trocchio.
Absent: Catherine Riseng.
The Chronicle survives in part through regular voluntary subscriptions to support our coverage of publicly-funded entities like the city’s greenbelt program. If you’re already supporting The Chronicle, please encourage your friends, neighbors and coworkers to do the same. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle.