An extraordinarily light agenda offers the council a rare opportunity to dispatch with a meeting in about an hour tonight. No proclamations or presentations are scheduled for the start of the meeting.
Besides the consent agenda, the council will need to vote on just eight items. And half of those eight are standard easements, which are rarely subjected to any council discussion.
But those easements also mean that not too many councilmembers would have the chance to take the night off. As conveyances of land interest, the easements will require an 8-vote majority on the 11-member council. Two of the easements are related to the construction of a new Tim Hortons on South State Street, one is related to the Arbor Hills Crossing development at Washtenaw and Platt, and the fourth is linked to construction of the new Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor.
The other land-related item on the agenda is initial consideration of a rezoning request for a site that has been annexed into the city from Ann Arbor Township. The final vote on the item would come at a subsequent meeting after a public hearing at that meeting. The Aug. 19 agenda doesn’t include any items that require a public hearing.
The council will be asked to approve a $107,000 purchase order for continued participation in CLEMIS (Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System). The service is used by several public safety agencies in southeast Michigan. Among the support services provided by CLEMIS are computer-aided dispatch (CAD), mobile CAD, report management system, fingerprinting and mug shots.
The council will also be asked to approve the issuance of $3.15 million in revenue bonds to fund some electrical improvements for the water supply system.
The final voting item on the agenda is confirmation of several nominations to city boards and commissions made at the council’s previous meeting.
The agenda still offers some opportunity for stretching long. For example, the council could separate out some of the nominations for individual consideration. Among those nominations, the council will be asked to confirm appointments to the boards of two high-profile organizations – the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Rishi Narayan, founder of Underground Printing, is the nominee to the DDA board. Jack Bernard, who works in the University of Michigan’s office of the general counsel, is the nominee to the AAATA board.
The council could also pull individual items off the consent agenda for separate consideration. Two of those items are street closures for downtown bars to host Oktoberfest activities on Sept. 20-21. It’s possible those items could be pulled out for separate consideration – but not because of a desire to deny the requests. Instead, a possible reason to consider them separately would be to highlight what’s different about the Oktoberfest street closures, compared to a similar request made at the council’s last meeting for “Beats, Eats, and Cleats.” That request, which was denied, was for an event sponsored by The Landmark apartment building. It was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, the evening before the football game between the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame.
The Oktoberfest event also takes place on a weekend when the Michigan football team plays a game. But that game against the UConn Huskies will be contested on the gridiron of Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. – over 700 miles away from the intersection of Washington and Main Streets in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Councilmembers also have the opportunity at three different points in the agenda to share communications with the public and their fellow councilmembers.
More detail on the meeting agenda items is available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
6:43 p.m. Pre-meeting activity. The scheduled meeting start is 7 p.m. Most evenings the actual starting time is between 7:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) has arrived. She’s the only councilmember here so far. City administrator Steve Powers has also just arrived.
6:53 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) have now arrived. Nancy Shore, Warpehoski’s wife, is here with their two children. Jack Eaton, winner of the Ward 4 Democratic primary on Aug. 6, is chatting with Kailasapathy. Lumm says the meeting should last about a half hour. She thinks it’s probably the thinnest agenda she’s seen, including both her terms of service dating back to the mid-1990s. Petersen is introducing Powers to a representative of Honda.
7:04 p.m. And we’re off.
7:05 p.m. Pledge of allegiance, moment of silence and the roll call of council. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) are absent.
7:05 p.m. Proclamations. An item has been added to the agenda honoring Eastern Michigan University’s English as a Second Language Students for volunteering in the city parks through the GIVE 365 Volunteer Program – for multiple “pool splash days” and the annual Huron River Day celebration.
7:09 p.m. Public commentary. This portion of the meeting offers 10 three-minute slots that can be reserved in advance. Preference is given to speakers who want to address the council on an agenda item. [Public commentary general time, with no sign-up required in advance, is offered at the end of the meeting.]
Only three people are signed up to speak tonight. According to the agenda, up first will be Thomas Partridge to speak on commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., building affordable housing and public transportation, and promoting himself as a declared write-in candidate for Ward 5 city council in November. On the ballot, incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin is unopposed. Partridge is followed by James Rhodenhiser, who is signed up to speak on the protestors outside of Beth Israel Congregation. Rounding out the trio of public speaking reserved time is Kathy Griswold, who is signed up to talk about the city’s crosswalk ordinance.
7:13 p.m. Partridge is now holding forth. He introduces himself as an Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County resident advocating for those who need more government services. He calls for “integrated progress.” It’s the eve of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington, he says. So he calls on all residents of the city and county to make King’s dream a reality. He calls for an investigation of what he calls misappropriation of funds that the city now needs to expand public, affordable housing. He doesn’t think the mayor has answered any of the questions surrounding the economic downturn.
7:17 p.m. Rhodenhiser is now addressing the council. He is rector at St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor. He picks up on Partridge’s mention of the 50th anniversary. He refers to an anniversary in Ann Arbor – the 10th anniversary of a demonstration outside the Beth Israel Congregation. He characterizes the protests as “picking on” one congregation. He tells the council that he’s given the city clerk a letter from 31 religious leaders. He encourages the council to make a statement about what kind of city Ann Arbor wants to be. He calls for civility. His heart goes out to those in Egypt, he says. He asks the council to consider going on record supporting the congregants of Beth Israel, who might feel their burden will go unremarked.
7:19 p.m. Griswold is criticizing CityWorks as a piece of software. It is a platform for the citizens service request system. It does not have a mobile interface, she contends. She calls for an improvement. She also addresses the local crosswalk ordinance. Is it enforceable? Is education possible? She says she’s angry because she found a pamphlet that says, “Pedestrians Rule.” She calls that shameful. She calls for hiring a professional transportation engineer.
7:20 p.m. Council communications. This is the first of three slots on the agenda for council communications. It’s a time when councilmembers can report out from boards, commissions and task forces on which they serve. They can also alert their colleagues to proposals they might be bringing forward in the near future.
7:21 p.m. Kailasapathy reports that the human rights commission is working on a revision to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Another topic from the HRC is to pursue policy guidelines for installation of video surveillance cameras.
7:23 p.m. Anglin raises the issue of stormwater control. He ventures that sites could be identified for stormwater detention farther upstream, using city land. He calls for “natural projects” upstream as much as possible.
7:23 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) is commenting on a recent pedestrian fatality on Plymouth Road, highlighting the fact that state law, not just Ann Arbor local law, requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Ann Arbor’s law differs from Michigan’s Uniform Traffic Code in requiring motorists to stop, not merely slow as to yield, and in requiring action for pedestrians standing at the crosswalk, not already within the crosswalk.
7:23 p.m. From the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code:
R 28.1702 Rule 702. Pedestrians; right-of-way in crosswalk; violation as civil infraction.
(1) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger, but a pedestrian shall not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into a path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
10:148. – Pedestrians crossing streets.
(a) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop before entering a crosswalk and yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian stopped at the curb, curb line or ramp leading to a crosswalk and to every pedestrian within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
(b) A pedestrian shall not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into a path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
7:26 p.m. Briere has now summarized the laws. She’s ticking through some basic stats.
7:26 p.m. Additional background, based on data pulled from the Michigan Traffic Crashes website for 2004-2012: the majority of traffic crashes involving pedestrians are in the downtown area. [ped crash year-by-year animated map .gif)] The number of traffic crashes involving pedestrians has been somewhat higher the last two years than any of the previous seven years. [ped crash chart by year .jpg] Crashes related to pedestrians also show consistent seasonal variation. [ped crash chart by month total .jpg] [ped crash chart by month broken out by year]
7:28 p.m. Mayor John Hieftje now commends Rhodenhiser and his group, saying that he had watched a conversation between Rhodenhiser and the leader of the protests. He says that rationality had fallen on deaf ears. Hieftje notes that the council had passed a resolution a few years ago. He calls it a tough problem that attorneys have worked on.
7:30 p.m. Powers invites the public to a swearing in of four new police officers at 1 p.m. on Friday. He alerts the public to the UM student move-in from Aug. 28-30. He says that the AAPD party patrol will be in effect from then until Sept. 3, the start of classes. East University and Oakland will have a free solid waste drop off.
7:31 p.m. Minutes. The minutes from the last meeting have been approved without amendment.
7:31 p.m. Consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda includes three mid-September requests for street closings in downtown Ann Arbor. All three resolutions include approval of special permits for serving alcohol outdoors.
The consent agenda also includes two software purchases – one for case management at the 15th District Court and the other for tracking of maintenance needs for city assets. Rounding out the consent agenda is a contract for inspection of two of the city’s dams – Barton and Superior. In more detail, here’s a summary of the consent agenda.
- Street Closing: W. Washington for Oktoberfest Sept. 20-21 (Grizzly Peak Brewing Company and the Blue Tractor). This would be for the block between Main and Ashley, leaving intersections open for north-south traffic.
- Street Closing: E. Washington for Oktoberfest Sept. 20-21 (Arbor Brewing Company). This would be for the block between Main and Fourth Avenue, leaving intersections open for north-south traffic.
- Street Closing: E. Washington for Lite Bike Sept. 15. (Arbor Brewing Company and A2 Bike). This would be from half block between Main eastward to the alley.
- Approve purchase order to Azteca Systems for CityWorks software license and annual maintenance and support agreement ($60,000). This software is based on a geographical information system (GIS) platform and allows the city to track the maintenance of its equipment and assets. It’s also the software on which the city’s citizen request system is based. However, according to city CFO Tom Crawford, responding to a query from The Chronicle, the city is currently evaluating whether to continue using the existing citizen request application or convert to something else.
- Approve professional services agreement with Mead and Hunt Inc. to complete a dam safety inspection and report for Barton and Superior dams ($53,600). This is an inspection required every five years by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by an independent consultant. The last one was done in 2008. Mead and Hunt’s bid was the lowest of four bids. It was about half the highest bid for the work, which was submitted by Black & Veatch at $107,000.
- Approve purchase order to Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office for judicial information software (JIS) (not to Exceed $54,000). JIS is case management software provided to the 15th District Court, which the local court uses for day-to-day operations.
7:31 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Lumm wants to pull out two of them and Teall pulls out one.
7:33 p.m. The council is now discussing the Blue Tractor Oktoberfest street closing. Lumm asks if closing part of Washington has been done in the past all day. Sumedh Bahl, community services area administrator, indicates that the timing is requested by the applicant.
7:37 p.m. The council is now discussing the Azteca software item. Lumm totals up several different software items. CFO Tom Crawford indicates that the city tries to negotiate a multi-year, but flat rate contract. The maintenance costs are generally about 20% of the software costs. Kailasapathy brings up Griswold’s point about the lack of a mobile interface for CityWorks. Crawford calls CityWorks a key piece of software. Crawford notes that CityWorks does have a mobile API. A third party had created the citizens request system for the city. But that was five years ago, he says. So the city is now looking at going and and asking a third party to upgrade the mobile application. Warpehoski has looked up last year’s contract and notes that it’s the same as this year.
7:42 p.m. The council is now discussing the dam safety inspection contract. Teall asks for public services area administrator Craig Hupy. She gets confirmation that the funding is coming from the general fund. She asks for the status of discussion about hydro-electric use with interested parties. Hupy says that two years ago or so, a study was done about the feasibility of hydro-electric at Argo or Geddes. Hupy indicates there had been only one party, the VA hospital, interested in pursuing hydro-electric. He essentially concludes that hydro power wasn’t feasibility.
Briere ventures that in 2010 the council had made a decision that dam maintenance would not be funded out of the parks budget. Lumm recalls that previously the dam maintenance fund was an enterprise fund. Hupy confirms that the hydro-electric fund would in general just about break even, paying its own way. Hupy and Lumm are discussing dam operations back in the 1980s and 1990s.
7:43 p.m. Hieftje ventures that the reason that the dam is profitable is due to the fact that the price of electricity has gone up.
7:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has now voted unanimously to approve all items on the consent agenda.
7:43 p.m. Rezoning for 2925 Devonshire: Initial approval. The 0.66-acre parcel is requested to be rezoned from TWP (township district) to R1A (single-family dwelling district). The city’s planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning on a 9-0 vote at its Jan. 15, 2013 meeting. The rezoning comes in the context of the annexation of the land into the city.
7:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to give initial approval to the rezoning of 2925 Devonshire. The council’s final vote will come at a future meeting after a public hearing.
7:44 p.m. Issuance and sale of water supply system revenue bonds ($3.15 million) The bonds are being sold to finance some of the additions and improvements to the city’s water distribution system, including electrical improvements at the Barton and South Industrial pump stations. Michigan Finance Authority (the “Bond Bank”) will purchase the bonds as part of its Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) program. Bond payments are to be made from the water supply system revenues.
At its June 17, 2013 meeting, the council approved a $2.6 million contract with Shaw Electric Company to upgrade electrical systems for the city’s drinking water system. That contract covered replacement of the primary and secondary switchgear at Barton Pump Station and replacement of electrical controls and a check valve at South Industrial Pump Station.
7:44 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to authorize issuance of the water supply system bonds.
7:44 p.m. Approval of a purchase order with Oakland County for CLEMIS (not to exceed $107,000). CLEMIS (Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System), which is hosted by Oakland County, is used by several public safety agencies in southeast Michigan. Among the support services provided by CLEMIS are computer-aided dispatch (CAD), mobile CAD, report management system, fingerprinting and mug shots. CLEMIS allows for sharing of information among public safety organizations across Southeast Michigan.
7:45 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to approve continued participation in CLEMIS.
7:45 p.m. Resolution accepting water and sanitary easement for Arbor Hills Crossing. The easement is being granted by RSW Washtenaw LLC (3100 Washtenaw Ave.) to the city at no cost as apart of the development agreement for Arbor Hills Crossing. As a land transaction, the acceptance of the easement will require an 8-vote majority on the 11-member council. Arbor Hills Crossing is located at on the southeast corner of Washtenaw and Platt, consisting of four one- and two-story buildings throughout the 7.45-acre site – a total of 90,700-square-feet of space for retail stores and offices. A new traffic signal has recently been installed and is operational at the Platt and Washtenaw intersection.
7:45 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to accept the easement for water and sanitary lines for Arbor Hills Crossing.
7:45 p.m. Resolutions accepting public utilities easements and public right-of-way easements for South State Street Tim Hortons. Both easements are being granted to the city, at no cost, from 3965 South State Associates LLC. The granting of right-of-way is 50 feet wide and about 345 feet long along Ellsworth Road. As land transactions, the acceptance of the easements will require an 8-vote majority on the 11-member council. The site plan for the Tim Hortons was approved by the city council last year at its April 16, 2012 meeting.
7:46 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to accept both easements for the Tim Hortons on State Street.
7:46 p.m. Resolution to approve a grant of easement to DTE Electric Company. This easement is to allow electrical service for the new Blake Transit Center currently under construction by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. The easement begins on the Fourth Avenue side of the old Y lot ( 350 S. Fifth Avenue) and extends eastward about halfway across the block. As a land transaction, the acceptance of the easement will require an 8-vote majority on the 11-member council.
7:46 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to grant an easement to DTE to provide electrical service.
7:47 p.m. Confirmation of nominations. Nominated at the previous council meeting were the following:
- Alison Stroud to the Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues. On the city commission for disability issues, Stroud would be finishing the term of Ian Scott. Stroud is a public policy intern for the summer at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living. She addressed the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority during a public hearing at its June 20, 2013 meeting.
- Paul Darling (reappointment) to the Building Board of Appeals
- Reka Farrakand to Housing Board of Appeals. Farrakand is city of Ann Arbor fire marshal.
- Alex Milshteyn (reappointment) to the Zoning Board of Appeals
- Rishi Narayan to the board of the Downtown Development Authority. Narayan would replace Leah Gunn. Narayan is founder and managing member of Underground Printing, which offers screenprinting of apparel in more than a dozen cities nationwide. Narayan made the Crain’s Detroit Business “Twenty in their 20s” list in 2010 as a 28-year-old.
- Jack Bernard to the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Bernard is lecturer in the University of Michigan law school and an attorney with UM’s office of the vice president and general counsel. He is also currently chair of the university’s council for disability concerns. Given the nature of wrangling over Eric Mahler’s recent appointment to the AAATA board, Bernard’s chairship of that group could be a key qualification. Some councilmembers objected to Mahler’s appointment, arguing that someone who could represent the disability community should be appointed instead. If Bernard is confirmed by the city council at tonight’s meeting, that would bring the total of UM employees on the board to three, or one-third of the nine members. The other two UM employees on the AAATA board are Sue Gott (the university’s head planner) and Anya Dale (a representative in the office of sustainability).
7:50 p.m. Petersen highlights three of the nominations. She notes that Stroud has a Pittsfield Township address, but she’s hearing-impaired, so she asks that the residency requirement be “waived.” She calls Narayan a young urban professional and says that the future of Ann Arbor relies on such individuals. She points out that Bernard sits on the UM committee on disability issues, to which she serves as a city liaison. She’s reading aloud praise about Bernard from a third party. Bernard is legally blind, she says.
7:50 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to confirm all the appointments.
7:51 p.m. Mayoral nominations to boards and commissions. Nominations made tonight will be voted on at the council’s next meeting. Leigh Greden has been nominated for re-appointment to the Ann Arbor housing commission. Devon Akmon’s name was put forward to fill a vacancy on the public art commission. Logan Casey has been nominated to fill a vacancy on the human rights commission. And Al McWilliams is being nominated to replace Newcombe Clark on the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.
McWilliams’ name had appeared on an early version of the list of nominees for the council’s Aug. 8, 2013 meeting. The final version, however, did not include his name. McWilliams is founder of Quack!Media, an ad agency located in downtown Ann Arbor. Quack!Media lists the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority on its website as one of its clients. McWilliams has written advocacy pieces for bicycling on his blog.
Also originally slated for nomination at the Aug. 8 meeting to serve on the public art commission was Jeff Hayner. But the final version of the nomination list did not include his name. He has filed petitions to run for the Ward 1 city council seat. The Ward 1 city council ballot for November will include incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere, and independents Hayner and Jaclyn Vresics. According to Hayner, mayor John Hieftje had explained to him that he had a policy against appointing people to boards and commissions if they were candidates for the city council.
7:53 p.m. Council communications. Lumm gives an update from the council’s liquor committee. A recommendation would be coming to the council about the fee schedule. Adjustments would be made to make sure that fees charged reflect the costs. A recommendation on liquor license transfer procedures will also be forthcoming, Lumm says, in light of a change in state law. She thanks the various staff who are involved in the annual renewals of licenses, and indicates that their time investment will be tracked.
7:54 p.m. Briere gives an update from the North Main Huron River task force, indicating that the report is almost finished. Demolition of the two buildings on 721 N. Main was taking place today, she notes.
7:55 p.m. Anglin follows up by saying that 133 establishments in Ann Arbor hold liquor licenses. Each one pays $50 a year, Anglin says.
7:55 p.m. Public Commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
7:59 p.m. Jim Mogensen comments on the hardship exemption in the city’s living wage ordinance. He recalls the history for its rationale – a recognition that some nonprofits were not able to comply with the requirements of the ordinance. He recounts how the exemption for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival was handled and how an exemption was also put in for work-study students. Last fall, the issue had arisen again. He was bringing it up to provide the history, he said, because a waiver had been granted last fall to Community Action Network over work-study students, he said, who were already exempt under the ordinance.
8:02 p.m. Thomas Partridge repeats the points from his initial public commentary – Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his candidacy for Ward 5 city council as a write-in candidate. He laments the lack of affordable housing and effective public transportation in Ann Arbor.
8:04 p.m. Closed session. The council has voted to go into a closed session under Michigan’s Open Meetings Act to discuss land acquisition and pending litigation.
8:20 p.m. The council has emerged from its closed session.
8:26 p.m. Lumm moves a resolution on the pending litigation which authorizes the city attorney to resolve the case Dobrowolski v. City of Ann Arbor in the manner recommended during the closed session. The council has approved that resolution.
8:26 p.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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