Archive for August, 2013

Short Council Meeting Hits Emotional Topics

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Aug. 19, 2013): An extraordinarily light agenda prompted Jane Lumm (Ward 2) on arrival in council chambers to remark that the meeting could be done in a half hour. The meeting actually stretched to about 90 minutes. But that still made it the shortest meeting in recent memory.

From right: Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1)

There was time for conversation after the council meeting. From right: Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), mayor John Hieftje, and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) (Photos by the writer.)

The council didn’t engage in substantive deliberations on any of its regular business items, but did pull three items off the consent agenda for more scrutiny: (1) an Oktoberfest street closure in downtown; (2) a dam safety inspection contract for the city’s two hydroelectric dams; and (3) a renewal of the maintenance and support agreement for CityWorks software.

The CityWorks software drew public commentary from resident Kathy Griswold – because the web-based citizen request system that a third-party developed a few years ago using the CityWorks API (application programmer interface) does not have a good mobile interface. To the extent that a better mobile interface would allow residents more easily to report problems with traffic-related lines of sight (such as excessive vegetation), that could result in safety improvements.

Pedestrian safety was the second point raised by Griswold, as she weighed in against the city’s crosswalk ordinance, which requires motorists to stop for pedestrians who are in the crosswalk or standing at the crosswalk. It’s a position that Griswold has taken on several occasions in her remarks to the council over the last two years. Her contention is that the city’s ordinance should be identical to the language in the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code, which does not require stopping and does not extend to cover pedestrians who are standing at a crosswalk but not within it.

Sabra Briere (Ward 1) picked up on the topic of pedestrian safety during communications time, and delivered remarks she’d prepared at the request of former city councilmember Leslie Morris. Morris had attended the previous day’s Sunday night caucus and had asked Briere to address the issue of a recent pedestrian fatality on Plymouth Road. Briere ticked through a number of statistics on traffic crashes involving a pedestrian.

The meeting featured two topics related to constitutionally protected speech – one raised during public commentary and the other raised less visibly, during a closed session on the settlement of a lawsuit.

During his turn at public commentary, James Rhodenhiser asked the council to consider expressing its view on a regular weekly anti-Israel protest that’s been held for nearly 10 years outside the Beth Israel Congregation. Rhodenhiser is rector at St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church, and conveyed a written document to the council indicating support from 31 other local clergy. The council has in the past approved two resolutions referring to the protests. The city has not been able to take any substantive action to compel the protesters to cease their activity, because the demonstration is constitutionally-protected free speech.

Another issue related to constitutionally-protected speech was the topic of a closed session held near the end of the meeting, which lasted about 15 minutes. When the council emerged from the closed session, a unanimous vote was taken to settle a lawsuit: Dobrowolski v. City of Ann Arbor. The lawsuit alleged that the city infringed on constitutionally-protected speech when it used its vehicle sign ordinance to prohibit anti-abortion signs. The city agreed to pay $7,000 in legal fees and $50 to the plaintiff, Paul Dobrowolski – to cover the tickets he was issued for his signs.

In some significant voting business, the council confirmed appointments to the boards of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) offered positive remarks about both appointees – Rishi Narayan to the board of the Ann Arbor DDA and Jack Bernard to the board of the AAATA.

Petersen highlighted one other appointment – Alison Stroud to the city’s commission on disability issues, noting that Stroud is hearing impaired and used the CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) to follow along at meetings. [Full Story]

A2: Co-Working

Several members of Ann Arbor’s Workantile are quoted in a Forbes article about co-working as an option for employees who work remotely from their firm’s main offices. Workantile’s co-owner Bill Tozier: “Everybody keeps talking about the changing relationship between employee and employer. Co-working sort of offers an out, a gradual easement of that crisis. Rather than just sending people home, this remote employee relationship is a compromise that can work.” [Source]

Stipulated Order Costs Ann Arbor $7,050

The stipulated order in the Dobrowolski v. City of Ann Arbor case has now been filed by the Michigan Eastern District of the U.S. District Court. It requires the city of Ann Arbor to pay $7,000 in attorney fees and $50 to the plaintiff,  Paul Dobrowolski. The amount paid to Dobrowolski covers the tickets he was issued by the city for displaying anti-abortion signs in his vehicle while parked on a city street.

The stipulated order also permanently enjoins the city of Ann Arbor against enforcing its city ordinance against Dobrowolski’s vehicle signs. The lawsuit filed by Dobrowolski argued that the city’s ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution on its face and as applied to Dobrowolski’s signs. The settlement is an implicit acknowledgment by … [Full Story]

Transit Authority Launches New Website

The new website of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has launched today (Aug. 21, 2013), after being delayed for several months. The new website includes the basics of information about governance, as well as an iCalendar-compliant schedule of events.

Screen shot of real-time bus information available through the new AAATA website. The number indicates the vehicle number, not the route number. Routes are selected through a drop-down menu.

Screen shot of real-time bus information available through the new AAATA website. The number indicates the vehicle number, not the route number. Routes are selected through a drop-down menu.

The website, developed by the Michigan firm Artemis … [Full Story]

Elbel Field

Michigan Marching Band members converging on Elbel Field for their first morning practice of the season.

Planning Group Advises Council on Y Lot

Ann Arbor planning commissioners are formally making recommendations to the city council about the future of the former YMCA lot at 350 S. Fifth, which the city purchased in 2003. The recommendations were passed unanimously, in the form of a resolution, at the commission’s Aug. 20, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of original planning commission resolution, before amendments]

The city council is exploring whether to sell that property, located across from the downtown Ann Arbor District Library and south of Blake Transit Center. Earlier this year, the city selected Colliers International and local broker Jim Chaconas to handle the possible sale, as the city faces a $3.5 million balloon payment this year from the purchase loan it holds on that property.

Now … [Full Story]

Addition to Honda Test Facility Moves to Council

An addition that more than doubles the size of the Honda testing facility on Ann Arbor’s south side won a unanimous recommendation of approval at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s Aug. 20, 2013 meeting.

Honda, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of Honda test site, north of Ellsworth on Research Park Drive.

The existing 19,357-square-foot building, built in 1975 and used for vehicle testing, is located at 3947 Research Park Drive on a 2.72-acre site. The proposal calls for building a two-story, 24,116-square-foot addition. Part of that square footage includes a basement level.

During a public hearing on the project, a representative of American Honda Motor Co. reported … [Full Story]

Belle Tire on Ellsworth Gets Planning OK

The site plan for a proposed Belle Tire at 590 W. Ellsworth – just east of the intersection with South State Street – received a recommendation of approval from Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Aug. 20, 2013 meeting. No one spoke at a public hearing on the project.

Belle Tire, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of a proposed Belle Tire site.

The 1-acre site – currently vacant – is on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent to and east of a new Tim Hortons. A restaurant building formerly located on the property was demolished.

The proposal calls … [Full Story]

Land Annex on Miller Road Moves Ahead

Ann Arbor planning commissioners have recommended approval of an annexation and zoning request for 2640 Miller Road, on the city’s northwest side. The action took place at the commission’s Aug. 20, 2013 meeting.

Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of Rayer property.

Owned by Robert Rayer, the 0.39-acre is located in Scio Township, on the north side of Miller west of North Maple. The requested zoning is R1B (single-family dwelling district). Properties on the east and west sides of this lot are already zoned R1B.

A single-family home is on the property. According to a staff memo, the annexation was prompted because … [Full Story]

Priorities Emerge in Downtown Zoning Review

Ann Arbor planning commission’s ordinance revisions committee meeting (Aug. 13, 2013): The committee received an update on the city’s downtown zoning review at a meeting that included about a half hour of public commentary.

Wendy Rampson, Erin Perdu, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor planning manager Wendy Rampson confers with planning consultant Erin Perdu prior to the Aug. 13, 2013 meeting of the planning commission’s ordinance revisions committee. Perdu was on hand to update commissioners about the ongoing D1 zoning review. (Photos by the writer.)

Erin Perdu, the consultant hired by the city to lead this process, briefed the four commissioners who serve on the ordinance revisions committee, as the first phase of this effort draws to a close.

The work is the result of a city council resolution passed on April 1, 2013. It directed the planning commission to address three specific questions: (1) whether D1 zoning is appropriately located on the north side of Huron Street between Division and South State and the south side of William Street between South Main and Fourth Avenue; (2) whether the D1 residential FAR [floor area ratio] premiums effectively encourage a diverse downtown population; and (3) whether a parcel on the south side of Ann Street adjacent to city hall should be rezoned “to the appropriate zoning for this neighborhood.” That parcel, currently a surface parking lot, is now zoned D1, which allows for the highest density development. The council’s resolution set a deadline of Oct. 1 for the planning commission to deliver recommendations to the council.

Based on public meetings, interviews and survey responses, Perdu reported a general consensus that D1 zoning is not optimal. In particular, many people feel that the buildings allowed in D1 zoning districts are too tall and massive, and that other solutions should be explored for the sites mentioned in the council resolution. Possible solutions include rezoning those sites to D2, or making changes to the D1 zoning – such as allowing diagonals as a tool for controlling building shape, lowering the height or adjusting setbacks – so that it worked better with the adjacent neighborhoods. Some people suggested creating yet another type of zoning. “I think those are options that we’ll be exploring in the next phase of this,” Perdu said.

Another big issue that emerged was the design guidelines, Perdu reported, and a lot of people suggested that those guidelines need more teeth. Suggestions included making the guidelines a requirement in order to be eligible for premiums, which allow developers to construct larger buildings in exchange for providing certain features or public amenities.

There was also general agreement that the diversity of housing isn’t being achieved, Perdu said, but “how to fix that is up for debate.” Some ideas include making the premiums more specific, to encourage different types of residential units – that is, not granting a premium for simply any kind of residential development, as is currently the case. Other ideas for premiums include providing open space, or additional environmental and pedestrian amenities.

Perdu’s team will be developing visuals – including 3D models – showing how certain types of buildings might look if changes are made to D1 zoning on the sites mentioned in the council resolution. The consultants will also be doing research on possible options for premiums that would encourage specific kinds of residential development. In addition, they’ll be looking at how design guidelines can be strengthened and better integrated into the process.

Kirk Westphal, the planning commission’s chair who also serves on the ORC, requested that Perdu’s report reflect the history of how the D1 and D2 zoning were developed. During public commentary, several speakers objected to using Perdu’s time in this way. Former planning commissioner Eppie Potts said she felt like that history is being used against opponents of D1 zoning. “Hey, there was a lot of discontent and unhappiness, which nobody chooses to remember,” she said. “There were revolts at some of the meetings. It was not that pretty, as history.”

The next public forum will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at a venue to be determined. Perdu said she’ll also hold additional focus groups before then. The next ordinance revisions committee meeting will likely take place on Sept. 10. [Full Story]

DDA, AAATA Appointments Confirmed

The Ann Arbor city council has confirmed appointments to the boards of two key organizations – the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. The action took place at the council’s Aug. 19, 2013 meeting.

Rishi Narayan was appointed to the board of the Ann Arbor DDA. On the DDA board, Narayan is replacing Leah Gunn, who did not seek reappointment to the board this July after serving nearly 22 years, starting in 1991. 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.

That still leaves two positions unfilled on the DDA board. One of those … [Full Story]

AADL Board Adjusts 2012-13 Budget

At its Aug. 19, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor District Library board approved three minor adjustments to the 2012-13 budget, for the prior fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The adjustments totaled $11,000.

Ken Nieman – AADL’s associate director of finance, HR and operations – had previously indicated that such adjustments would be necessary. At the board’s July 15, 2013 meeting, he told the board that three items were over budget for the year ending June 30: utilities, communications and software. The board made some budget adjustments at its June 17, 2013 meeting based on estimates that turned out to be too low. Nieman had said the board would be asked to make additional adjustments to the previous year’s … [Full Story]

721 N. Main

Demolition of a former city fleet services building under way – the long, concrete-block one: [aerial view from Google Maps] MacKenzie Co. crew apparently separating recyclable metals from roof structure. [photo]

Amount of Land for Rec Center Wrong

In a report about the Aug. 13, 2013 meeting of the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, the amount of land that will be used for the proposed east county recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti was incorrect. Up to 8 acres might be used for the center, as part of the 38-acre Water Street area on Michigan Avenue. We note the error here, and have corrected the original report. Also, the article has been updated to include an additional funding source for conservation easements on the 101-acre Cort property in Salem Township.

County Board Sets Budget Meetings

As part of an ongoing process to develop the 2014 budget, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners has scheduled a series of meetings focused on specific budget priorities. The meetings are:

  • Talent priority: Monday, Aug. 19 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the lower level conference room at the county administration building, 200 N. Main in Ann Arbor. The group is led by Conan Smith (D-District 9).
  • Civic infrastructure priority: Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the downstairs board meeting room at 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. The group is led by Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1).
  • Economic development priority: Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 3-5 p.m. in the lower level conference room at the county administration building, 200 N. Main in Ann Arbor. The … [Full Story]

UM: Alice Walker

Inside Higher Ed reports that Alice Walker, the author who recently was disinvited to speak at a University of Michigan event hosted by UM’s Center for the Education of Women, is now being invited back. The report cites an email from UM provost Martha Pollack, sent to faculty last week and posted on the CEW website: “Consistent with the university’s commitment to free speech, I am pleased to report that the CEW and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies are joining together to extend an invitation to Ms. Walker to speak in a public forum on campus.” It is not clear whether Walker has accepted. [Source]

Aug. 19, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

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.

New sign on door to Ann Arbor city council chamber

The sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.

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. [Full Story]

Land Added to County Preservation Efforts

Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Aug. 13, 2013): After skipping the July meeting for a summer break, WCPARC tackled a full agenda at its August session. Commissioners took action related to land preservation and the east county recreation center in Ypsilanti, and were briefed about a proposed corridor improvement authority along State Road in Pittsfield Township.

East County recreation center, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view showing proposed location of a county recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti, in the city-owned Water Street property next to the Huron River and south of Michigan Avenue. (Image from the WCPARC Aug. 13, 2013 meeting packet.)

Commissioners approved expenses totaling $1,760,780 to acquire complete or partial interests in 140 acres for the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), and took the first step to approve acquisition of conservation easements on 170 acres of farmland for $258,500.

The NAPP purchases include 71 acres in Ann Arbor Township presently owned by DF [Domino's Farms] Land Development, west and north of the intersection of Plymouth and Dixboro Roads. The purchase includes 54 acres – known as Arbor Vistas – on the south side of Ford Road. WCPARC will contribute $928,780 of the total price of $2.167 million, with the remainder of funding coming from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund ($1.088 million) and Ann Arbor Township ($150,000).

Two other parcels – 5 acres and 12 acres – are located near the larger site. In total, these three acquisitions will enhance access to existing preserves, according to staff, and will benefit from the parking areas and trails already built in those preserves.

The WCPARC also gave final approval to purchase the 66-acre Primeau property in Freedom Township for $420,000, and to buy the 3-acre Holley property in Pittsfield Township for $90,000. The Holley property – on the south side of Textile Road, north of Michigan Avenue – is important because of its woods and its adjacency to three other heavily wooded parcels that WCPARC has given tentative approval to purchase. The 8-1 vote for the Holley purchase came over dissent by commissioner Fred Veigel, who questioned paying $30,000 an acre for property that could be developed.

The WCPARC also administers the agricultural land preservation program, which protects farmland by purchasing development rights (conservation easements) rather than title to the land. At the Aug. 13 meeting, commissioners gave preliminary approval for two such purchases: (1) the 101-acre Cort property in Salem Township, for $100,000; and (2) the 69-acre Schneider property in Lodi Township at the southeast corner of Scio Church and Parker Roads, for $158,500.

The commission was briefed on one ongoing project: the proposed recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti‘s Water Street area. The presentation included a summary of a survey about how such a new facility might be used. The survey had been commissioned by the Ann Arbor YMCA with some funding from WCPARC, and showed that there is sufficient demand and willingness to pay for the center. The results also provided details to guide decisions about fees and the size and nature of facilities in the building.

In action related to the center, commissioners approved extending for six months a letter of intent to reach a development agreement between WCPARC and the city of Ypsilanti. The plan is to use that time to negotiate a full development agreement so that the city can transfer the property – up to 8 of the 38 acres on Michigan Avenue east of downtown Ypsilanti – before Jan. 4, 2014.

Commissioners were briefed about a proposed Pittsfield Township corridor improvement authority along State Road. It would use tax increment financing (TIF) to provide funding for upgrading South State between Ellsworth Road and Michigan Avenue.

The commission also approved several financial reports for June and July, and received updates on various projects and activities. Director Bob Tetens distributed a draft of the WCPARC budget for 2014-2017, but there was neither description nor discussion of the document, which will be on the September agenda. [Full Story]

Miller & Chapin

A new mural is being painted on one side of the railroad trestle. Looks as though there will be mountains.

Undisclosed Ann Arbor

One shoe on. One shoe off. A fall fashion trend? Identify the owner of this foot for bragging rights. [photo]

Farmers Market

Common Cycle mobile repair stand volunteers advise motorist he’s headed the wrong way on a one-way street (Fifth Avenue). [photo]

Washington & First

New awning at Kiwanis leaves no doubt when the thrift sale takes place (Saturdays). [photo]

Washington & Third

House getting scraped in preparation for re-coating. Test swatches painted. [photo]

Transit Group Adopts New Name, Work Plan

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meeting (Aug. 15, 2013): The board’s two main voting items at Thursday’s regular monthly meeting were in some sense ceremonial – but still reflected substantial policy decisions.

Gillian Ream, Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board

Gillian Ream is the city of Ypsilanti’s representative on the newly expanded Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board. (Photos by the writer.)

The board gave public notice through a formal resolution that the organization would start using the new name specified in its newly-amended articles of incorporation: “Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.”

Eli Cooper, who also serves as the city of Ann Arbor’s transportation program manager, was among the board members at the meeting who noted the substance underlying the addition of the word “area” to the organization’s name.

That substance is a recently approved revision to the articles of incorporation of the AATA, which added the city of Ypsilanti as a member to the authority. The AATA board had given final approval for that change at its June 20, 2013 meeting, after the city councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti had already approved the change. The revision to the articles to include Ypsilanti as a member is intended to provide a way to generate additional funding for transportation. The AAATA could, with voter approval, levy a uniform property tax on the entire geographic area of its membership – something the AATA did not do.

The cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti now levy their own millages, which are transmitted to the AAATA. However, Ypsilanti is currently at its 20-mill state constitutional limit. A millage levied by the AAATA would not count against that 20-mill cap. While there had been an outside chance that a millage request could be placed on the ballot as soon as November 2013, it now appears likely for May 2014.

Board discussion reflected the fact that the new acronym for the organization is a challenge to pronounce letter-by-letter. Suggestions had been made to adopt a convention of calling the AAATA “A3TA” or “Triple-A-TA” – but the board’s resolution indicated only that “TheRide” will continue as the organization’s mark.

Gillian Ream is the city of Ypsilanti’s new appointee to the expanded board of the AAATA. The Aug. 15 meeting was the second one she’d attended – but her first as a voting member.

The draft FY 2014 budget, for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, already reflects the membership of the city of Ypsilanti – as the proceeds from Ypsilanti’s transit millage are recognized under “local property tax revenue” instead of “purchase of service agreements.” That draft currently shows about $33.3 million in both revenues and expenditures.

The FY 2014 work plan – which that budget is supposed to support – was the second ceremonial but still substantive item on the board’s agenda. In addition to maintaining a range of basic transportation services, the work plan includes a number of other initiatives. Among them are projects that have been widely discussed for a longer time – like increased services in the “urban core,” the east-west commuter rail, north-south commuter rail (WALLY) and a high-capacity connector between northeast Ann Arbor through the University of Michigan campus and farther south to the Briarwood Mall area. Projects included in the work plan that have not received as much publicity include traffic signal prioritization (in favor of public transit vehicles) and a unified fare media (payment) strategy.

Sue Gott noted during the meeting that the work plan had been under development for five months. The plan was met with general enthusiasm by board members, with Susan Baskett reflecting the board’s sentiment: “I just love this document!” It was adopted on a unanimous vote.

The other voting item on the agenda was authorization to use three different printers for small-scale print jobs over the next five years. The only wrinkle to approval of that item came in connection to adjusting the sequence of resolutions, so that the resolution formally adopting the AAATA’s new name preceded the printing contracts.

Also during the meeting, the board heard a range of public commentary. Among the points made by the public was the fact that despite discussions about possible changes to Route #11 in Ypsilanti, Route #11 will remain unchanged this fall. Also during public commentary, the passing of longtime disability activist Lena Ricks was noted. Ricks had served on the AAATA’s local advisory council. [Full Story]