Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 7, 2013 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article. We think that will facilitate easier navigation from live-update material to background material already in the file.
The Thursday meeting, shifted from its usual Monday slot due to the Tuesday elections, is the last one with the current composition of the 11-member council. The outcome of Tuesday’s elections left all incumbents in place except for Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), whose departure was decided in the August Democratic primary. Ward 4 primary winner Jack Eaton will be the single new face on the council at its Nov. 18 meeting. At the Nov. 7 meeting, Higgins will likely receive a customary parting gift from her colleagues, to acknowledge her 14 years of service on the council.
The agenda is relatively heavy, featuring at least 34 voting items. This preview includes a more detailed explanation of several of those items, but first provides a thematic overview.
The city’s downtown factors prominently on the agenda in at least three ways. The city council will be asked to consider passing a resolution to direct the city administrator to negotiate a sales agreement for the city-owned property along William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, known as the old Y lot. The council will also be considering a revision to the city ordinance regulating the tax increment finance (TIF) capture of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. That’s been on the agenda since February, but now a committee of councilmembers and DDA board members has put forth a competing recommendation, which will also be on the Nov. 7 agenda.
Also related to downtown, the council will be formally accepting a report completed by the city’s park advisory commission with recommendations related to downtown parks.
Non-motorized issues also factor prominently as a theme of the Nov. 7 agenda. In addition to an update of the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, the council will consider establishing a pedestrian safety task force. The council’s agenda also includes the first of a series of resolutions for two separate sidewalk projects – one on Stone School Road and another on Scio Church Road. The council’s resolutions for those projects, directing the design work and detailed cost estimates, are the first actions necessary for some of the funding of the sidewalks to be special assessed to the adjacent property owners.
An additional project related to non-motorized issues, but not obviously so, is a contract with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation to resurface a portion of Huron Street from Main Street westward as Huron becomes Jackson Avenue on to I-94, as well as a section of South Maple. The intent is to re-stripe the roadway, reducing the lanes from four to three and adding bicycle lanes.
The sidewalk and street projects are among several capital improvement-related items on the agenda, including one that would help stabilize the earthen berm adjacent to Barton Dam. The council will also be considering a half dozen resolutions that will authorize applying for state grants that could fund capital asset projects for the city.
In addition to the items related to the city’s physical infrastructure, the council has several items that could be described as relating to the city’s social infrastructure. Those items relate to grants from the state and federal government to the 15th District Court for several of its specialty courts that focus on drug offenses, domestic violence, and veterans issues. The council will also be asked to approve a modified continuation of its coordinated funding approach to human services.
The agenda includes some council initiatives announced at the council’s previous meeting on Oct. 21. One of those is a resolution requesting that the University of Michigan decommission a recently constructed digital billboard near the football stadium.
Another one is a resolution directing the education of city officials on professional conduct. Related tangentially to those ethical considerations are the approvals of new bylaws for two of the city’s boards and commissions – the planning commission and the design review board.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings Thursday evening 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 preview material. Click here to skip the preview section and go directly to the live updates. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The agenda includes several items related to the downtown area.
Downtown: DDA Ordinance
On the Nov. 7 agenda are now two possible revisions to the city’s ordinance regarding how the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s TIF capture is regulated (Chapter 7). The first version has been under consideration by the council since Feb. 19, 2013.
The second version is the result of recommendations by a committee of DDA board members and city councilmembers that has met four times since Aug. 26, most recently on Oct. 30. That committee was established at the council’s July 1, 2013 meeting – after the first version achieved initial approval at the council’s April 1, 2013 meeting. Representing the council on the joint committee are Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2). Representing the DDA are Sandi Smith, Roger Hewitt, Bob Guenzel and Joan Lowenstein.
A range of possible parliamentary mechanisms are available to the council for handling the two competing versions of the ordinance amendment. One approach would be to put off deciding between the two versions at the Nov. 7 meeting – by postponing the first version and giving the second version an initial approval. That could move the debate to the council’s Nov. 18 meeting – after the new composition of the city council is seated.
Another parliamentary approach on Nov. 7 could be to amend the first version through substitution of the second. Or the council could vote down the first version and consider the second version. The council could also vote to give the first version final approval and not consider the second version when it’s reached on the agenda. The first version appears first on the agenda – but that order could be re-arranged at the start of the meeting.
The first version, which is in front of the council for final approval, would clarify the existing language of the ordinance regulating the DDA’s TIF capture in a way that would disallow the DDA’s preferred interpretation of a restriction on TIF revenue. The restriction that’s already expressed in the ordinance language is defined by reference to the amount of growth in taxable value in the DDA district that’s anticipated in the DDA’s TIF plan – a foundational document of the DDA. When those restrictions are applied to the DDA’s TIF revenue, then the amount of TIF received by the DDA would be roughly $4 million in FY 2015. By way of comparison, in the current fiscal year (FY 2014), under its preferred interpretation, the DDA looks to capture approximately $4.5 million of the taxes levied by other jurisdictions.
Under the first version revision, that roughly $0.5 million difference would be proportionally divided among the taxing jurisdictions, which together levy roughly 27.5 mills of taxes in the DDA district. Proportionally, that translates to: city of Ann Arbor (60%), Washtenaw County (21%), Washtenaw Community College (13%), and Ann Arbor District Library (6%). So out of a $500,000 return to other taxing jurisdictions, the city of Ann Arbor would receive $300,000. However, that $300,000 would be distributed proportionally to the funds generating Ann Arbor’s levy. Part of Ann Arbor’s levy is a transportation tax that is passed through to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. So of the $300,000 that would be returned to the city, about $40,000 of it would be passed through to the AAATA.
However, the total amount that would be returned on the first version revision is projected to rise each year from that roughly $0.5 million, to somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million in FY 2017 based on projects in the downtown under construction and in the approval process.
The second version, proposed by the committee, would set a cap on DDA TIF revenue that would not apply at all until FY 2017 and would result in roughly $6.1 million of TIF revenue to the DDA that year, with an estimated return of $300,000 total to the other taxing jurisdictions. The city’s portion of that would be roughly $180,000, distributed proportionally across all its funds that get income from a captured levy, including the general fund.
Another major difference between the first version and the committee-recommended version of the Chapter 7 ordinance change is that the first version includes revisions to governance of the DDA, which the committee-recommended version omits. Those governance revisions include (1) a two-term limit for service on the DDA board; (2) a prohibition against elected officials, other than the mayor, serving on the DDA board; and (3) service of the mayor on the board (a possibility explicitly provided in the DDA state enabling legislation) subject to annual approval by the city council. If the council did not approve the mayor’s service on the DDA board in a given year, then that spot would go to the city administrator.
Downtown: Y Lot Sale
A resolution added to the agenda on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 would direct city administrator Steve Powers to negotiate a sales agreement with Dennis Dahlmann for the purchase of the city-owned property north of William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues in downtown Ann Arbor. Dahlmann has offered $5.25 million for the property, known as the Y lot. It had been listed at $4.2 million. [.pdf of Dahlmann offer 10.17.13]
If those negotiations are not successful, then the resolution directs the city administrator to negotiate with CA Ventures (Clark Street Holdings). City sources report that city administrator Steve Powers won’t be altering his recommendation to negotiate first with Dahlmann, despite the CA Ventures increase of its offer to $5.35 million – because that increased amount was received after the deadline for offers, which was firm and clearly communicated to bidders. The city received five bids on the property by the Oct. 18 deadline. [.pdf of summary page by broker Jim Chaconas]
The memo accompanying the Nov. 7 resolution states:
The offers from Dennis Dahlmann and CA Ventures are the strongest (cash, no contingencies, sales agreement, close in 2013) of the five proposals. Differences between the two offers are slight, but may be significant to city council. Dahlmann is proposing a purchase price of $5,250,000. CA Ventures is proposing $5,150,000. Dahlmann is proposing to build to less than the maximum density allowed by D1 zoning. CA Ventures’ offer assumes the ability to build to the maximum density allowed by D1 zoning.
The Nov. 7 resolution directs the city administrator to provide a purchase agreement for the property for the council’s consideration at its Nov. 18 meeting. That purchase agreement is supposed to include protections against the property not being developed.
While the council’s Nov. 7 meeting follows the Nov. 5 city council elections, the Nov. 18 meeting is the first meeting of the newly constituted council. There will be only one new councilmember – Jack Eaton, who defeated incumbent Marcia Higgins in the August Ward 4 Democratic primary. The Nov. 7 resolution is sponsored by mayor John Hieftje and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).
The city had hired 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. The city has owned the land for a decade.
If the sale is not completed by the end of the year when the balloon payment is due, the Bank of Ann Arbor would, according to city sources, maintain the existing interest rate on the loan (3.89%) and extend it for up to a year to allow for the city to finalize a sale.
A subcommittee of the park advisory commission (PAC) has been meeting since early 2013 to explore the possibilities for a new downtown park. The subcommittee delivered its recommendations at the Oct. 15, 2013 meeting of PAC. [.pdf of 21-page full subcommittee report] On Nov. 7, the city council will be asked to formally accept the subcommittee’s report.
Ingrid Ault chaired the subcommittee, which also included Julie Grand, Alan Jackson and Karen Levin. The subcommittee’s work is also meant to supplement the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Connecting William Street project.
The subcommittee’s work was guided by this mission statement:
To determine whether and what additional parks are wanted and/or needed in downtown Ann Arbor, focusing on city-owned parcels in the DDA district while maintaining awareness of additional nearby properties, for example: Liberty Plaza, 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington. The “deliverable” will be a set of recommendations for the City Council.
The eight recommendations are wide-ranging, but include a site-specific recommendation to develop a new park/open space area on the top of the Library Lot underground parking structure. Now a surface parking lot, the site is owned by the city and is situated just north of the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown building. The recommendation calls for only a portion of the site to be used for a new park/open space, and stresses that AADL should be involved in the planning process. The AADL board and staff discussed this recommendation at their Oct. 21, 2013 meeting.
Downtown – and Citywide: Park Fee Waiver
The council will be giving initial consideration to a change to the city’s ordinances so that charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs could be conducted in city parks without incurring a fee for park use. The proposal is not restricted to downtown parks, but the idea originated from an issue that emerged in connection with Liberty Plaza, which is a downtown park.
The recommendation for the ordinance change came from the city’s park advisory commission at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting. This broader policy change comes three months after the Ann Arbor city council waived all rental fees for the use of Liberty Plaza during a one-year trial period, based on a PAC recommendation. That city council action came at its July 15, 2013 meeting.
The Liberty Plaza fee waiver was approved in response to a situation that arose earlier in the spring, when the city staff considered applying fees to the hosting of Pizza in the Park at Liberty Plaza – a homelessness outreach ministry of a local church. The proposal recommended by PAC on Sept. 17, and on the council’s Nov. 7 agenda, would amend Chapter 39, Section 3:6 of the city code. [.pdf of revised ordinance language]
It would be a permanent fee waiver for this specific purpose – the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs – but it would still require that organizations get a permit to use the park, and follow permitting procedures, including clean up obligations.
Several items on the council’s Nov. 7 agenda relate to non-motorized issues.
Non-Motorized Issues: Non-Motorized Transportation Plan Update
The council is being asked to adopt an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, which is part of the city’s master plan. The planning commission adopted the plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update]
The update will be an amendment to the main non-motorized transportation plan, which was adopted in 2007. The new document is organized into three sections: (1) planning and policy updates; (2) updates to near-term recommendations; and (3) long-term recommendations.
Examples of planning and policy issues include design guidelines, recommendations for approaches like bike boulevards and bike share programs, and planning practices that cover education campaigns, maintenance, crosswalks and other non-motorized elements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
For example, the update recommends that the city begin developing a planning process for bike boulevards, which are described as “a low-traffic, low-speed road where bicycle interests are prioritized.” Sections of West Washington (from Revena to First), Elmwood (from Platt to Canterbury) and Broadway (from its southern intersection with Plymouth to where it rejoins Plymouth about a mile to the northeast) are suggested for potential bike boulevards.
Near-term recommendations include lower-cost efforts like re-striping roads to install bike lanes and adding crossing islands. Longer-term projects that were included in the 2007 plan are re-emphasized: the Allen Creek Greenway, Border-to-Border Trail, Gallup Park & Fuller Road paths, and a Briarwood-Pittsfield pedestrian bridge.
Non-Motorized Issues: Pedestrian Safety
Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) announced at the council’s Oct. 21 meeting that they’d be bringing forward a proposal to establish a pedestrian safety task force. At the Oct. 21 meeting, Warpehoski stated that the effort was not meant as an alternative to the efforts that other councilmembers are making to bring forward a repeal of the city’s pedestrian crosswalk ordinance.
The city’s ordinance differs from the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC) in two respects: (1) requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians, not just to slow as to yield; and (2) requiring motorists to take action to accommodate pedestrians standing at the curb at a crosswalk, not just those pedestrians who have already entered the crosswalk. The resolution establishing the task force acknowledges that many residents are concerned that current city policies create an unsafe environment for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
The pedestrian safety and access task force would consist of nine residents, including “representatives from organizations that address the needs of school-aged youth, senior citizens, pedestrian safety, and people with mobility impairments.” Applications from interested citizens should be turned in to the mayor’s office by Nov. 22, 2013. [.pdf of standard city board and commission task force application] The intent is to appoint the task force at the Dec. 2, 2013 city council meeting.
The task force would deliver a report by early September 2014. That report would include recommendations for “improvements in the development and application of the Complete Streets model, using best practices, sound data and objective analysis.”
Some of the recent community conversation has included the fact that traffic crashes involving a pedestrian have shown an increase in the last two years, the period during which Ann Arbor adopted its local ordinance that requires more of motorists than the UTC. The charts below are by The Chronicle using data from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts.
The Nov. 7 city council agenda includes a number of resolutions involving capital projects and expenses, some of which relate to non-motorized issues.
Capital Projects: I-94 Business Loop ($301,600)
This project would resurface the section of Huron Street from Main Street westward as Huron becomes Jackson Avenue on to I-94. The project will include a re-striping to reduce the number of lanes from four to three and add bicycle lanes. An agreement with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation is required because the city must contribute 12.5% of the funding for the resurfacing. That accounts for $198,700. Additional funding is needed to pay for the resurfacing of the portion of South Maple Road, as part of the project. South Maple is a city-owned street. MDOT has agreed to include the South Maple resurfacing as part of the project, but it will be funded by the city of Ann Arbor for $102,900.
Capital Projects: Stone School Road Sidewalk
On the council’s agenda is the first of a series of resolutions that could lead to special assessment of property owners on Stone School Road for constructing sidewalks, curbs and gutters as part of a road reconstruction project. The resolution simply directs the city administrator to prepare plans and specifications for the sidewalk improvement project, determine an estimate of the cost, and make a recommendation on what portion of the cost should be special assessed.
Capital Projects: Scio Church Sidewalk
Also on the council’s agenda is the first in a series of resolutions that could lead to special assessment of property owners on Scio Church, west of Seventh Street, for constructing a sidewalk there to eliminate a gap. The resolution directs the city administrator to prepare plans and specifications for the sidewalk improvement project, determine an estimate of the cost, and make a recommendation on what portion of the cost should be special assessed. The Scio Church resolution appropriates $35,000 for the design work. [For Chronicle coverage of a neighborhood meeting on the Scio Church sidewalk, see "Sidewalks: Build, Repair, Shovel"]
Capital Projects: Barton Dam Repair
The council will be asked to approve a contract with Catskill Remedial Contracting Services Inc. to install a “drainage blanket” for the earthen berm adjoining Barton Dam ($123,685). A drainage blanket is a pervious but stable layer of material installed directly at the base of a structure to facilitate drainage. The installation is meant to repair a “boil” that has surfaced in the drainage ditch at the base of the right embankment at the dam. The boil has been identified as a potential cause of failure for the embankment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – which is responsible for regulating the dam, because the dam generates electric power.
The contract is recommended to be awarded to Catskill, even though Pranam GlobalTech provided the lowest bid. The staff memo cites “substandard performance” by Pranam GlobalTech on two other city projects, which led to the disqualification of their bid. The cost of the project will be split between the water fund (as the dam creates a pond from which the city draws the majority of its drinking water) and the general fund (for the hydroelectric operations).
The council had been alerted to the need for this project earlier this year, at a Feb. 11, 2013 work session on the FY 2014 budget. From The Chronicle’s report of that session:
In addition to the concrete and steel part of the dam, a roughly 3/8-mile long earthen embankment is part of the structure that forms Barton Pond, [public services area administrator Craig] Hupy explained. FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has required the city to do some investigative work, and the city thinks there’ll be some follow-up work required when that investigative work is completed. [FERC is involved as a regulator because the Barton Dam generates electricity.]
Responding to a question from [Ward 3 councilmember Christopher] Taylor about the anticipated cost of the additional work, Hupy indicated that it would be “six figures.” The city is putting about $400,000 total in various parts of the budget for it. But until the study work is completed later this spring, the amount can’t be more precise, Hupy indicated. Because Barton is a federally controlled dam, whatever the work the city does will be what the regulator demands that the city does or doesn’t do. “Stay tuned,” Hupy told Taylor.
Capital Projects: Technical Engineering Services
The council will be asked to approve two different contracts that resulted from a bid it put out in June 2013 – for technical engineering services to support the water treatment services unit with capital, operation, and maintenance project support for the water system, dams, and hydroelectric generating stations. One of the contracts is with Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc. ($250,000). The other contract is with Tetra Tech of Michigan ($250,000).
Capital Projects: Ozone
The council will be asked to approve a purchase order with Ozonia for ozone generator dielectrics ($68,209). The city uses ozone in the disinfection process for its drinking water. The city is currently out of spare dielectric units, which are the components that convert oxygen gas to ozone gas. So this resolution would allow the city to have replacement parts on hand if the units fail.
Capital Projects: State Funding of Water Asset Projects
Six resolutions appear on the council’s agenda related to state legislation passed in 2012 that forms the statutory framework of the Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) program – a grant program. The legislation funds grants and loans for what the staff memo accompanying the resolutions describes as “funding for grants and loans for asset management plan development, stormwater management plan development, sewage collection and treatment design plan development, and state-funded loans to construct projects identified in the asset management plans.” [.pdf of FAQ by the State of Michigan on the SAW program] [PA 511 of 2012] [PA 560 of 2012] [PA 561 of 2012] [PA 562 of 2012]
Although communities that are awarded grants can receive a maximum of $2 million in total grant funds through the SAW program, the city of Ann Arbor is applying for the following six grants, on the idea that it will maximize its chances if the state uses a lottery type system. The first $1 million has a 10% local match requirement, and the second $1 million of grant money has a 25% local match requirement.
The city is applying for funding for some projects that have already been started, because money awarded through the SAW program can be spent retroactively as early as Jan. 2, 2013. The council will be considering six resolutions corresponding to grant requests from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the following projects.
- Asset Management Plan for the Sanitary System ($1.1 million): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($100,000) plus 25% of second million ($25,000) for a total of $125,000.
- Asset Management Plan for the Stormwater System ($1.1 million): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($100,000) plus 25% of second million ($25,000) for a total of $125,000.
- Sanitary Sewer Wet Weather Evaluation Project (retroactive) ($1.2 million): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($100,000) plus 25% of second million ($50,000) for a total of $150,000.
- Stormwater Model Calibration Project (retroactive) ($750,000): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($75,000) or 25% of second million ($187,500) for a maximum of $187,500.
- Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Asset Management Program ($350,00): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($35,000) or 25% of second million ($87,500) for a maximum of $87,500.
- Asset Management Plan for the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Sanitary Sewer System ($1.5 million): Local match requirement is 10% of first million ($100,000) plus 25% of second million ($125,000) for a total of $225,000.
In addition to physical infrastructure items, the council’s Nov. 7 agenda also includes several pieces of business that could be described as related to social infrastructure.
Social Infrastructure: 15th District Court
The council will be asked to consider authorizing five grant-related items involving the specialty court functions of the 15th District Court. [For background on the 15th District Court and some of its functions, see Chronicle coverage: "Round 1 FY 2014: 15th District Court"]
- Accept three-year $300,000 supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance countywide efforts to prevent domestic violence, effective Sept. 12, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016. Of the grant total, $181,000 will reimburse the city for the salaries for a full-time domestic violence probation officer, a half-time system coordinator, and a part-time data entry clerk. Another $5,000 will reimburse the city for training expenses required by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The remaining $114,000 will reimburse the city for a contract with SafeHouse Center to provide domestic violence prevention services.
- Authorize contract with SafeHouse to provide domestic violence prevention services ($114,000). Under terms of the contract, SafeHouse Center will provide confidential support, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence cases in the 15th District Court, 14A District Court and 14B District Court; monitor court and probation activity as it relates to victim safety; work collaboratively to enhance victim safety; and offer advice and training to judges, magistrates, probation and compliance officers and community partners.
- Accept Michigan Supreme Court drug court grant ($144,000). The 15th District Court’s sobriety court is “hyper-intensive probation,” which follows sentencing. The court assigns a full-time probation officer to the sobriety court for a program that lasts 18-24 months and includes monitoring of participants’ attendance at treatment programs, their progress in treatment, how they’re spending their time at work and doing community service. Reporting requirements are extensive. Participants must take frequent portable breath tests (PBTs) and urine tests. The majority of sobriety court participants are second-offender DWI cases, but offenses need not be driving-related. Also eligible to participate in sobriety court are, for example, retail fraud (shoplifting) offenders and misdemeanor drug possession offenders. Some of that grant money will fund a contract with Dawn Farm.
- Authorize contract with Dawn Farm ($88,000). The contract is for out-patient drug abuse counseling as part of the 15th District Court’s sobriety court.
- Accept Michigan Supreme Court veterans treatment court program grant ($92,279).
Social Infrastructure: Coordinated Funding
The council will be asked to authorize the basic approach that it has taken to human services funding in the past, but with some modifications. The funds would continue to be managed through Washtenaw County’s office of community & economic development, using the coordinated funding approach.
The county is one of five partners in the coordinated funding approach. Other partners are city of Ann Arbor, United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Urban County, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. It began as a pilot program in 2010; this is the second time that the program has been extended.
The coordinated funding process has three parts: planning/coordination, program operations, and capacity-building. The approach targets six priority areas, and identifies lead agencies for each area: (1) housing and homelessness – Washtenaw Housing Alliance; (2) aging – Blueprint for Aging; (3) school-aged youth – Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth; (4) children birth to six – Success by Six; (5) health – Washtenaw Health Plan; and (6) hunger relief – Food Gatherers.
Last year, TCC Group – a consulting firm based in Philadelphia – was hired to evaluate the process. As a result of that review, several changes were recommended. One of those changes is that funding would not necessarily be allocated to the six priority areas based on the proportion of funding allocated in the past. Instead, allocations among the six priority areas would be based on identified community-level outcomes, the strategies that align with them, and how each are prioritized. An additional change would broaden the pre-screening process so that smaller nonprofits could be accommodated.
Recommendations for specific funding allocations will be made in spring 2014. In addition, the RNR Foundation – a family foundation that funded TCC Group’s evaluation of the coordinated funding approach – will now be an additional funder in this process. One of the goals of coordinated funding is to attract more partners, such as private foundations.
The Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave initial approval to the continued use of the coordinated funding approach at its Oct. 16, 2013 meeting.
The council’s agenda includes a couple of items that relate to ethics.
Ethics: Professional Standards of Conduct
Sally Petersen (Ward 2) is bringing forward a resolution that does not include “ethics” in the title, but addresses the kind of issues that could be described under the general rubric of “ethics.” The resolution directs an educational effort on Public Act 317 of 1968, which is the state’s conflict-of-interest statute.
A final “resolved” clause directs the council’s rules committee to draft standards of conduct for local officials based on Public Act 196 of 1973, which applies to state employees of the executive branch and appointees of the governor. The final resolved clause – if it’s approved, and if the council adopts a standard that’s recommended by the council rules committee and it’s strictly followed – would end any unauthorized leaks of information from the city government.
Ethics: Consent Agenda – Planning Commission Bylaws
The Nov. 7 consent agenda includes approval of new bylaws for two entities – the city’s design review board and the city planning commission.
The planning commission had given approval to changes in its bylaws at its July 16, 2013 meeting. Those changes related to the order of agenda items, and the length of time required for special accommodations, such as sign language interpreters. [.pdf of planning commission bylaws on Nov. 7 city council agenda]. The design review board has not had bylaws up to now.
Not the subject of a revision, but still the source of some recent community interest, is the following clause from the planning commission bylaws, which imposes a limitation on the ability of a councilmember to address the city planning commission:
Section 9. A member of the City Council shall not be heard before the Commission as a petitioner, representative of a petitioner or as a party interested in a petition during the Council member’s term of office.
That part of the bylaws surfaced recently, when councilmembers Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sumi Kailasapathy on separate occasions sought to address the planning commission – Warpehoski on July 16, 2013 and Kailasapathy on Aug. 13, 2013.
Based on an analysis in the Michigan Municipal League’s “Handbook for Municipal Officials,” it may be problematic for a city councilmember to address a body like the planning commission. That’s not based on having a property interest in a matter, but rather because the council is the appointing body for the commission. The handbook presents the following scenario as an ethical exercise – using the zoning board of appeals (ZBA). From the MML Handbook:
Situation #2 Before you were elected to the city council you served on your city’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), so you know the ZBA procedures very well. A few months after your election to council, your neighbor and campaign manager files a petition with the ZBA seeking a variance. Since you know how the ZBA works, he asks you to accompany him to the ZBA and to speak on his behalf. Should you do it?
The analysis offered by the handbook is the following:
No. The Michigan Court of Appeals has labeled this situation as “patently improper” and an abuse of public trust for the reason that the person making the argument to the ZBA is also one of the people charged with appointing the ZBA. This creates duress on the ZBA, raising doubt about the impartiality of the ZBA’s decision. Any decision made by the ZBA under these circumstances is void. See Barkey v. Nick, 11 Mich App 361 (1968).
The implication of the Ann Arbor city planning commission bylaw is that it’s permissible for a city councilmember to address the commission exactly when the councilmember is not the petitioner or does not have an interest in the matter. That situation appears to be explicitly deemed unethical by the MML Handbook, if the handbook’s analysis is extended from the ZBA to the planning commission.
Ethics: Consent Agenda – Rental Housing Inspection
A consent agenda item increases the amount of a contract the city has with the accounting firm Plante Moran for a thorough review of the city’s permitting processes. That review comes in the context of the discovery that some rental housing permits had not been properly verified, according to city sources. Steps taken by the city staff to correct the problems included a review of all questionable permits. That included site visits to eight residential properties, six of them occupied, to ensure no one was living in unsafe conditions.
Re-inspection continues of residential and business properties to verify issued permits, to ensure the accuracy of the city’s records. Property owners are not being charged additional costs for re-inspection. The city anticipated that over 80 properties would be re-inspected as of Oct. 30. The permits for those 80 properties compare to a total number of 10,000 building and rental permits issued annually.
A number of other items appear on the agenda. Here are a few highlights.
Misc: Consent Agenda
Three other consent agenda items include a $60,000 contract with Utilities Instrumentation Service for electrical and instrumentation support services. According to a staff memo, the scope of UIS work will include “transformer testing, infrared testing of switchgear, testing of medium voltage breakers at City substations and generators, programming and calibration of instrumentation, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) support and troubleshooting, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming, and tuning and testing of dam and hydroelectric generator controls.”
A fourth item on the consent agenda sets a public hearing for establishing an industrial development district (for potential tax abatements) at 1901 E. Ellsworth. That hearing will be held on Dec. 2, 2013.
Misc: Church Site Plan
The council will be asked to approve a site plan for the expansion of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church at 1717 Broadway St. The city planning commission recommended approval of the project at its Oct. 1, 2013 meeting.
The site plan proposal calls for tearing down five existing buildings and constructing a 12,850-square-foot, two-story addition to the rear of the church. The addition would be used for educational activities at the church, which is located on a 4.3-acre site in Ward 1, southwest of Broadway’s intersection with Plymouth Road.
According to a staff memo, only minor changes are proposed for the existing 142-space parking lot. Additional sidewalks will be added, including a roughly 20-foot extension of the public sidewalk along Broadway Street, which currently stops short of the south property line.
Because the church is located in an area zoned for single-family residential use (R1C zoning), a special exception use approval was needed from the planning commission. The city’s planning staff noted that the church has been located there for about 50 years. The church has a capacity of 126 seats, which will remain unchanged. At their Oct. 1 meeting, planning commissioners unanimously voted to grant approval for a special exception use.
The project is estimated to cost about $3 million. No approval is required from the city council for the special exception use, but the council must consider the site plan for approval.
6:50 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. Several people are here in support of the ordinance revision to waive fees for park usage if the purpose is to distribute goods to address basic human needs.
6:55 p.m. Fox 2 News is here to cover homelessness issues.
6:58 p.m. Based on overheard conversation, Tom Wall is reportedly going to address the council in his cape and tights as Captain Driver Ed.
7:02 p.m. Councilmembers are signing cards for Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). Sabra Briere (Ward 1) is here. She’d called in sick to the planning commission meeting last night. Most councilmembers are now here, but we seem to be a few minutes away from starting the meeting.
7:04 p.m. Confirmed sighting of Tom Wall as Captain Driver Ed. He’ll be addressing the city council during public commentary reserved time about pedestrian safety. He has a guitar with him.
7:09 p.m. Marcia Higgins has just arrived. And we’re off.
7:10 p.m. Pledge of allegiance, moment of silence and the roll call of council. All councilmembers are present and correct.
7:12 p.m. Approval of agenda. Margie Teall (Ward 4) wants to move coordinated funding (DS-19) to after the consent agenda. That appears amenable to everyone. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) wants to move B-1 (DDA ordinance) after C-2 (DDA ordinance – joint subcommittee version).
7:14 p.m. Communications from city administrator. City administrator Steve Powers thanks the Ann Arbor police department for their work in arresting three suspects in Paul DeWolf homicide. He also says that the Main Street lightpoles have been inspected and that he’ll bring a proposal to the council at their Nov. 18 meeting.
7:14 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.]
Six people are signed up to talk about the ordinance change that would waive the park permitting fee for distribution of goods to address basic human needs: Timothy W. Green, Ray Gholston, Stephan Pate, Ryan Sample, Andrew Mutschler, and Raytheon Jones as well as an alternate speaker, Chris Mckeown.
Ingrid Ault is signed up to speak on the resolution accepting the park advisory commission’s downtown parks report. And two people are signed up to talk about the resolution establishing a pedestrian safety task force – Tom Wall and Kathy Griswold. Dina Kurz is signed up to talk about the Y lot sale. The second alternate speaker is Emily Tondreau, who’s signed up to talk about the evictions of homeless people from their camp sites and the capacity of the shelter.
7:16 p.m. Timothy W. Green introduces himself as a member of Camp Take Notice. He’s been a part of the demonstration in front of city hall on behalf of the homeless community. In response to the count of 165 homeless people, he contends there’s at least triple that number. If you find yourself in a camp, it’s not safe, because AAPD tells you they have to go, he says. If you’re being run off, he asks, where do you go? You pack up and walk around the streets all night, he says. He took the podium to applause and his remarks conclude with applause. He refers to the amount spent on the Dreiseitl fountain next to their protests.
7:18 p.m. Ingrid Ault is addressing the council on behalf of the park advisory commission. She’s chair of that group and was chair of the subcommittee on downtown parks. She describes how the committee met several times over several months. She describes the survey the committee conducted that received over 1,600 responses. She highlights the eight recommendations in the committee’s report.
7:23 p.m. Ray Gholston invites everyone to stand who supports more support for homeless people. Almost everyone in the middle section of the chambers is standing in support. The way Ann Arbor treats the homeless is a human rights violation, he says. He says that if there were a pack of dogs out on Huron Street, people would go make sure they had shelter, but Ann Arborites won’t do the same for the homeless. There’s not enough space in the shelter, he says.
7:25 p.m. Dina Kurz, a member of the city’s energy commission, is addressing the council on the topic of the sale of the old Y lot. She wants the city to negotiate additional features of development on the site that are in line with the climate action plan and sustainability framework. It could become a shining example of what can be done to have less impact on the environment and offer greater sustainability. LEED Gold and the AIA 2030 standards are some of the covenants that the city could instruct the city administrator to write into the legal agreement, she says. She wants the council to “seize this moment.”
7:27 p.m. Stephan Pate introduces himself as a member of the homeless community. AAPD are running people off of property without giving them enough time to gather up their belongings, he says. He asks for enough time to gather up their belongings and live in peace.
7:29 p.m. Kathy Griswold is telling the council about the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ transportation safety committee, which is described on the AAPS website as “Advisory Committee to the Board of Education, the Ann Arbor City Council and, in a less formal manner, other governmental units including the Pittsfield Township Trustees and the Washtenaw County Road Commission.” [Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) is listed on Legistar as the council's representative to the committee.]
Griswold is essentially arguing for the expansion of the existing committee, which includes representatives of the University of Michigan, the Center for Independent Living and the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition. Griswold thanks Warpehoski and Briere for their work to bring forward the task force resolution. The TSC was established in 1969, she says. She was a consultant for the TSC back in 2001, she says. It’s time to reassess the situation. She describes legislation in Lansing in the works that would make the Uniform Traffic Code the state law.
7:31 p.m. Andrew Mutschler introduces himself as a member of the Camp Misfit homeless community who are protesting out in front of city hall. He describes how he’d come back to his encampment to find all his belongings gone. He emphasizes that everyone needs stability, a place to call home – even if it’s just a 6×6 roof over your head.
7:34 p.m. Tom Wall is addressing the council as Captain Driver Ed. His son wasn’t allowed to introduce him on account of the speaking rules. He offers to the city, once they’ve decided what to do, his driver ed school, saying it’s very good at education. He’s now singing “Captain Driver Ed, Captain Driver Ed …” People are sort of singing along. “Don’t get distracted, it’s not attractive.” He tells people to clap for him. They do.
7:37 p.m. Raytheon Jones is speaking on behalf of the homeless. It’s a serious problem, he says. “Many of us are troubled, with nowhere to go,” he says. He’s speaking for the disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless and the people who have no voice. He first arrived in Ann Arbor in July a few months ago. He was sitting in a park, not being boisterous, he said. But AAPD had called him over and asked him what he was doing. They’d told him there were people there with their families and he needed to find somewhere else to go. There was no room in the shelter, he said. The homeless need somewhere to go, he says.
7:37 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.
7:40 p.m. Briere is talking about the parking situation at Argo Cascades. The result of the city’s work was to put parking at Longshore Park. The neighborhood was not impressed with that, she says, and it had stopped after one weekend. On Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. the city is holding a public meeting on the parking needs at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Traverwood branch.
7:42 p.m. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) responds to the public commentary. She asks if the city administrator can contact the churches that provide a rotating shelter to see if that can be started earlier this year. Mayor John Hieftje says that it’s handled through the Shelter Association center. The warming center will open on Nov. 18, Hieftje says. He’d been in communication with the Shelter Association.
7:44 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) acknowledges that four AAPD officers were honored as officers of the year by the Washtenaw 100 Club. Oct. 24 was the date of this year’s event, she says. She lists off the names of the four officers. They’d entered a burning building and saved woman’s life on Jan. 13, 2013, she reports.
7:48 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) also responds to the public commentary. He points out that there are not only churches but also synagogues. What triggers an eviction? he asks. City administrator Steve Powers says that by ordinance, camping is not allowed in city parks. Warpehoski confirms that it’s complaint driven. Powers also indicates there’s a 48-hour orange notice that’s posted saying: Please move. Powers indicates that he’s discussing the issue with the members of Camp Misfit and with Chief Seto.
Warpehoski says we don’t solve the problem of homelessness just by moving people around. He calls for upholding our laws with maximum humanity. He’s concerned about people’s belongings being respected.
7:49 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) gives an update on the Safety on Seventh campaign. There’ll be a community meeting on possibly more traffic calming. He’s disappointed that two elementary schools have discontinued their walk-to-school programs. He wonders if Bach and Eberwhite ended their program because of the traffic on Seventh Street.
7:51 p.m. Margie Teall (Ward 4) says she wants to change the tone. She recognizes that it’s the last meeting for Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). Higgins is presented with a crown, which she puts on. She indicates she’ll be wearing it for the duration of the meeting.
7:53 p.m. Nominations. Nominations tonight include Peter Greenfield to the airport advisory council replacing Wilson Tanner, and Anthony Ramirez to be re-appointed to the cable communications commission. On the housing and human services board, Eleanor Pollack and Thaddeus Jabzanka are being nominated to fill the vacancies left by Ned Staebler and Anthony Ramirez, respectively. Mohammad Issa and Linda Winkler are being nominated for re-appointment to the city’s human rights commission.
On the Ann Arbor housing commission, Christopher Geer is being re-appointed to correct the end date of his term. On Jan. 7, 2013 the council confirmed his appointment for a term ending May 5, 2014. Tonight’s confirmation, which is taking place in one step and needs eight votes to be approved, corrects the end date of his term to May 1, 2017.
7:54 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve Geer’s re-appointment to the Ann Arbor housing commission.
7:54 p.m. Appointments. The council is being asked tonight to confirm appointments for nominations that were made at the council’s previous meeting on Oct. 21. Nominated to fill the remaining vacancy on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board – due to the resignation of Nader Nassif – was Cyndi Clark, owner of Lily Grace. The business is described on its website as a luxury cosmetics boutique in downtown Ann Arbor.
To fill a vacancy left by Leigh Greden on the Ann Arbor housing commission board, Tim Colenback was nominated on Oct. 21. Greden’s nomination had been made, but was never put forward for a confirmation vote. Colenback also serves on the city’s housing and human services advisory board. Colenback has told mayor John Hieftje that he won’t be able to serve on both bodies.
A replacement for Julie Grand on the park advisory commission was nominated at the Oct. 21 meeting – David Santacroce. He’s a professor of law at the University of Michigan, and he chaired the North Main Huron River corridor task force, which worked for a year and delivered its report recently to the council on recommendations to the corridor. Grand attended her last meeting of PAC on Oct. 15, 2013, after completing the maximum two terms of service. Amy Shepherd was nominated to serve on the city’s commission on disability issues. Shepherd is president of the Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairments. On the energy commission, Shoshannah Lenski was nominated to replace Mike Delaney, and Mike Shriberg was nominated for reappointment.
7:56 p.m. Hieftje describes Colenback’s credentials as assistant dean at the UM school of social work. Hieftje describes Cyndi Clark as having expertise in retail, in the cosmetics industry, on an international level. Hieftje also praises Santacroce’s work leading the North Main Huron River corridor task force.
7:58 p.m. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) highlights the energy commission appointment of Shoshannah Lenski, who works with DTE. Kunselman points out there are some issues with the timely repair of streetlights, citing some near Mary Beth Doyle Park that have been out for quite a while.
7:58 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve all the appointments.
8:01 p.m. Hieftje is now talking about the various services that the city of Ann Arbor offers for the homeless community. He recalls running for city council at the time when the building of the Delonis Center was being debated. [The shelter is located at 312 W. Huron, near the downtown.] He reiterates that the warming center is opening on Nov. 18. Hieftje describes how sometimes the AAPD posts notices and after the 48-hour period they return and they find no on there but possessions left behind. It’s something the AAPD is working on, he says.
8:03 p.m. Briere says the opening of the warming center is happening on about the same schedule as in the past. It’s not unusually late, she says. She asks Hieftje if the council will be asked for financial support for the warming shelter. She ventures that because she and Lumm serve on HHSB, they’d have occasion to meet with city and county staff and other nonprofits so that if there’s a need for funding, it can be brought back on Nov. 18.
8:03 p.m. Public hearings. All the public hearings are grouped together during this section of the meeting. Action on the related items comes later in the meeting. Two public hearings are scheduled: (1) The council is being asked to adopt an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, which is part of the city’s master plan. The planning commission adopted the plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update]; (2) a site plan for the expansion of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church at 1717 Broadway St. The city planning commission recommended approval of the project at its Oct. 1, 2013 meeting.
8:04 p.m. PH-1 Adopt 2013 update to non-motorized plan. Kathy Griswold says it’s an exciting night because there’s more than one item on the agenda involving pedestrian safety. She urges the council to not adopt the update to the plan. It fails to identify funding for all the improvements. The plan alludes to funding improvements with federal Safe Routes to Schools funding and she is “absolutely disgusted” by it because Ann Arbor can afford to fund that itself without tapping federal funds.
8:06 p.m. PH-2 Site Plan: Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church at 1717 Broadway St. No one speaks at this public hearing.
8:06 p.m. Approval of minutes for previous meeting.
8:07 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the minutes from the previous meeting.
8:07 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. Tonight’s consent agenda includes approval of new bylaws for two entities – the city’s design review board and the city planning commission. [For more background, see Ethics: Consent Agenda – Planning Commission By-laws above.]
Three other items include a $60,000 contract with Utilities Instrumentation Service for Electrical and Instrumentation Support Services. According to the staff memo, the scope of UIS work will include “transformer testing, infrared testing of switchgear, testing of medium voltage breakers at City substations and generators, programming and calibration of instrumentation, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) support and troubleshooting, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming, and tuning and testing of dam and hydroelectric generator controls.”
A fourth item on the consent agenda sets a public hearing for establishing an industrial development district (for potential tax abatements) at 1901 E. Ellsworth – for Dec. 2, 2013. And a final consent agenda item increases the amount of a contract the city has with the accounting firm Plante Moran for a thorough review of the city’s permitting processes. That review comes in the context of the discovery that some rental housing permits had not been properly verified, according to city sources. Steps taken by the city staff to correct the problems included a review of all questionable permits. [For more background, see Ethics: Consent Agenda – Rental Housing Inspection above.]
8:07 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Briere wants to pull out CA-2, the planning commission bylaws. Briere says that the planning commission is discussing an additional change to the bylaws, so she wants to postpone until Dec. 16.
8:09 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve all the consent agenda items, except for the planning commission bylaws, which have been postponed until the second meeting in December.
8:13 p.m. DS-19 Adopt FY 2015-16 human services funding process. The council is being asked to authorize the basic approach that it has taken to human services funding in the past, but with some modifications. The funds would continue to be managed through Washtenaw County’s office of community & economic development (OCED), using the coordinated funding approach. The city is one of five partners in the coordinated funding approach. Other partners are Washtenaw County, United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Urban County, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. It began as a pilot program in 2010; this is the second time that the program has been extended. This resolution does not allocate any funds, but rather authorizes the process for allocation. [For more background, see Social Infrastructure: Coordinated Funding above.]
8:15 p.m. OCED director Mary Jo Callan is fielding questions from Teall and Lumm.
8:17 p.m. Callan stresses that there’s no “pooling of funds” and that each entity maintains control over the designation of its own funding.
8:18 p.m. Warpehoski asks how the model doesn’t just cherry-pick the easy-to-serve kids and leave out the hardest-to-serve. Callan notes that the targeted population are selected by “let’s start with the poorest folks first.” The funds are in fact for the hardest-to-serve kids, she says.
8:19 p.m. Callan is talking about the best evidence-based practices and that’s what will be funded.
8:20 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to authorize the coordinated funding process.
8:20 p.m. B-1 DDA Ordinance. On the Nov. 7 agenda are two possible revisions to the city’s ordinance regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s TIF (tax increment financing) capture (Chapter 7). This is the first version, which has been under consideration by the council since Feb. 19, 2013. In summary strokes, this version is different from the competing version on the agenda in the following two ways. This version more nearly enforces the existing language in the ordinance with respect to the amount of TIF revenue the DDA would receive. It also proposes governance changes for the DDA board, which include term limits. [For more background, see Downtown: DDA Ordinance above.]
8:21 p.m. Kunselman asks that it be tabled. That puts it off to a date uncertain. It could be brought back as an option.
8:21 p.m. Kunselman describes how he’s planning to go talk to the other taxing jurisdictions about the council’s efforts. So he moves to table.
8:24 p.m. Teall says “I don’t get it,” saying that it’s been postponed several times. If the alternative proposal from the committee were to pass (the next agenda items) she wants to know what would happen. Kunselman explains the difference between the versions. This current version says that any changes to the restriction would need the approval of the other taxing jurisdictions. So Kunselman wants to discuss the second version with the other governmental entities.
8:24 p.m. Teall wants to know what would cause Kunselman to bring back the first version off the table. “Hopefully nothing,” he says.
8:25 p.m. Kunselman says that he hopes there will be no complaints and no whining.
8:25 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to table the DDA ordinance change.
8:25 p.m. C-1 Ordinance: Exemptions to park permit requirements. The council is giving initial consideration to a change to the city’s ordinances so that charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs could be conducted in city parks without incurring a fee for park use. The recommendation for the ordinance change came from the city’s park advisory commission at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting. [For more background, see Downtown (but not only): Park Fee Waiver above.]
8:27 p.m. Taylor is introducing the resolution. He recalls the Pizza in the Park issue in Liberty Plaza downtown. This extends the scope to all parks, not just downtown. Taylor notes that the proposal has been vetted by the park advisory commission.
8:28 p.m. Teall thanks Taylor for meeting with her and the representatives of Camp Take Notice and “taking the ball and running with it.” She thanks the CTN people. She encourages everyone to vote for it.
8:28 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to give initial approval to the ordinance change that would allow for distribution of humanitarian aid in city parks without incurring a fee.
8:28 p.m. C-2 Alternate DDA ordinance revision. This is the second of two versions of the DDA ordinance revision. It’s the result of a joint DDA board and city council committee. It does not include any governance changes. And it would not propose any restriction on DDA TIF revenues until FY 2017. [For more background, see Downtown: DDA Ordinance above.]
8:31 p.m. Kunselman describes the alternative as much “cleaner” and it addresses just the TIF capture. Key stat: The TIF cap would have a basis $224 million taxable value in tax year 2016 with an increase of 3.5%.
8:32 p.m. Kunselman describes the amount of the DDA’s TIF capture as capped at around $6 million for the 2016 tax year. He invites CFO Tom Crawford to the podium.
8:34 p.m. By 2033 there would be “millions and millions” of dollars going back to the taxing authorities, says Kunselman. Crawford says he’d project that within a few years after the cap, more than $1 million would be distributed to the other governmental units.
8:35 p.m. Crawford is now describing the bonding capacity that the cap would allow: $59 million for the next 10 years. If they chose not to bond, the capacity for projects would be smaller.
8:37 p.m. Kunselman says he’ll have a couple of amendments. The point is not to hamstring the ability of the DDA to undertake capital improvements, Kunselman says. Part of the point is to improve the ability of the DDA to budget.
8:40 p.m. Kailasapathy notes that there’s two variables in the TIF plan: escalator and the basis. Crawford has chosen 3.5% which is from the TIF plan to avoid changing the TIF plan. Crawford concedes that the basis for the taxable valuable in the committee’s proposal is not from the TIF plan. Kailasapathy concludes that this is a change to the TIF plan. Crawford says there’s room for differing views on this.
8:41 p.m. Lumm asks about the clause in the existing ordinance that says that the restrictions in the ordinance can’t be removed except by approval of the other governmental units.
8:42 p.m. Assistant city attorney Mary Fales says it’s not possible for the city to abdicate its fiduciary responsibility to another entity.
8:48 p.m. Kunselman forwards an amendment by email to his colleagues about affordable housing.
8:48 p.m. Kunselman notes that the council had revised the DDA’s budget earlier in the year to transfer $300,000 of TIF to the DDA’s housing fund. He moves that the DDA be required to budget $200,000 for the DDA housing fund, starting in 2014, adjusted at the same rate of increase as the TIF income – to be spent on projects that meet the income guidelines of the Ann Arbor housing commission.
Kailasapathy wants the amount to be $300,000. Kunselman agrees. Briere notes that generally there’s an implied expectation that the city would match whatever the DDA does. She wants that on the record. Taylor asks if the proposal is enforceable. Fales says the council has the ability to approve the budget.
8:49 p.m. Briere wants to know if 2014 is tax year, calendar year, or fiscal year. Kunselman says it should be 2016 anyway.
8:54 p.m. Hieftje says he doesn’t think the DDA objects to funding affordable housing. But the DDA’s suspension of transfers to its housing fund was a function of having the obligations of building the underground parking structure, he says.
8:57 p.m. Executive director of the DDA Susan Pollay is fielding questions from the council. Warpehoski says he likes the idea of making sure the DDA’s housing fund is actually an affordable housing fund. But he’s not sure that Kunselman’s approach is right. Kunselman suggests that the requirement for projects to meet the Ann Arbor housing commission’s standards could be tied only to the $300,000 in the ordinance. Warpehoski asks if the HHSAB can simply exercise oversight. Kunselman doesn’t think HHSAB has enough teeth as an advisory body.
9:00 p.m. Kunselman now is amending his own amendment to restrict just the funds mandated by the ordinance to be in support of housing projects that meet the Ann Arbor housing commission’s income standards. Hieftje thinks there needs to be more flexibility. Kunselman amends to cite 50% AMI (area median income) as the standard.
9:03 p.m. Higgins thanks Kunselman for his work. [2016 year refers to the tax year.]
9:03 p.m. Outcome: The council has unanimously approved Kunselman’s amendment.
9:09 p.m. Kunselman is putting forth another amendment involving the capital improvement plan (CIP). This is an amendment from the first version of the ordinance that had received initial approval. Responding to Warpehoski’s question, city administrator Steve Powers says that the amendment would not pose a problem. Briere reviews how the CIP is put together.
9:10 p.m. Outcome: The council has unanimously approved Kunselman’s amendment on the CIP.
9:10 p.m. Lumm is proposing an amendment to add term limits. This is language from the first version.
9:14 p.m. Petersen notes that the bylaws approved by the council that night for the design review board also include term limits. She counters the argument that you lose someone’s expertise if term limits are imposed by saying that you don’t lose their expertise because that can be tapped on an informal basis.
9:15 p.m. Kailasapathy likes the portion of the amendment that restricts elected officials from serving on the DDA board.
9:21 p.m. Briere says that she’s not impressed with the value of term limits for elected officials. She says she might be willing to consider a limit of three consecutive terms instead of two. She argues for that by saying that the planning cycle for DDA projects is 10 years. She doesn’t like the part that says that elected officials of other jurisdictions can’t serve on the DDA board. She opposes term limits on a philosophical basis.
Kunselman replies by saying, “Oh my, look what I’ve started!” He had wanted to leave the governance issues aside because they can be addressed at any time. As far as the mayor’s appointment to the board, Kunselman says that the council could simply choose to appoint the city administrator instead of the mayor, when the council makes its annual committee appointments.
9:22 p.m. Kunselman doesn’t have a problem with elected officials from other jurisdictions serving on the DDA board but wants them all represented – the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor District Library, and Washtenaw County. He doesn’t have a problem with term limits.
9:26 p.m. Teall asks how the joint committee had felt about term limits. Lumm says she missed the last joint committee meeting but she’d said at an earlier meeting that she’d wanted the term limits included. Kunselman says his focus had been on the financial picture. He stresses that there be consensus with the body that is being regulated so that they don’t feel “beaten down.” He didn’t want the discussion to be bogged down about feelings. The discussion had been going on for quite some time. “I’m tired of it, and the community is tired of it,” Kunselman says.
9:28 p.m. Teall won’t support the governance amendments including term limits. She wants it to pass with a large majority. Hieftje says he won’t be mayor after 2014. He wants to wait and see if the state legislature takes action requiring the representation of the other governmental units on the DDA board. Term limits have been a disaster with the Michigan legislature, Hieftje says. There is adequate turnover as it is, he says. He won’t support term limits.
9:31 p.m. Kailasapathy offers an amendment that would require representation of all the jurisdictions on the DDA board. Petersen echoes Hieftje’s sentiments, saying that the state legislature may act. Hieftje says the state legislature might act in a way that would allow the addition of representatives from other jurisdictions more swiftly. Discussion of different amendments to amendments.
Hieftje calls for a recess to sort it all out.
9:34 p.m. Recess. We’re in recess.
9:48 p.m. And we’re back.
9:52 p.m. Lumm is amending her amendment. It would be effective for the first appointment to the board after the date of the ordinance’s enactment. It’s constrained to term limits.
Taylor says term limit are pernicious. It removes the discretion of the appointing body to appoint someone who is actively engaged and serving well. “We’re sapping our boards … of useful engaged knowledgeable” board members, he says. Petersen comes back to the point that the council has just approved bylaws for bodies that include term limits. Taylor says, “I have no drive for perfection.”
9:55 p.m. Kailasapathy says there’s a difference between the Michigan legislature and an appointed body. She says that for elected officials, she doesn’t see the need for term limits. But for appointed boards, the more you get people involved, the more vibrant it becomes and the more perspectives it brings in. Look at the DDA board, she says: Do you want to keep this or do you want more diversity, she asks.
Hieftje says that he can’t recall that a person of color has applied to the DDA. He points to the fact that there are four DDA board members who are in their first terms. He says he’s gone away from nominating developers and has selected representatives from small businesses to serve on the board. He says there is diversity of viewpoint on the DDA board.
9:57 p.m. Lumm says, “You can Google it” to find that term limits are a nonprofit board best practice. It’s a healthy thing. She argues there should be consistency on all the boards and commissions. She argues that opportunities should be opened up for others to serve.
10:00 p.m. Lumm says it’s not difficult to recruit people to serve on the DDA board. Warpehoski says on the broader issue of whether term limits are good or bad, he can find examples of each. Given the small size of the DDA staff, he’s concerned about the preservation of the DDA’s institutional memory. He’d voted to put Russ Collins on the DDA board for a third term, so by the argument of consistency he couldn’t support this amendment. But he rejects the idea of consistency as the main consideration.
10:03 p.m. Kunselman argues that turnover is good when money is at stake. He thinks that two four-year terms is more than most councilmembers serve. As far as his vote for Russ Collins for a third term, he says he likes Russ and used to work for him at the Michigan Theater. But he wouldn’t vote for him again. It’s a core group of people who seem to hang around, he says. He points out that the city charter imposes term limits on certain kinds of boards and commissions. If it’s that big of an issue, a future council can bring it back, Kunselman says.
10:05 p.m. Hieftje proposes a compromise of a limit to three terms, not two.
10:05 p.m. Lumm says “That’s not the kind of revitalization I was looking for.” She says she’ll continue to work on the issue for all boards and commissions, but for tonight she’ll go along with three terms as the limit.
10:07 p.m. Briere challenges Petersen’s assertion that the bylaws of the design review board and the planning commission contain term limits. Higgins says she’d have supported the two-term limit, but will support three. She laments the disparagement of members of a sitting board, some of whom are sitting in the audience. Talking about a changeover and alluding to a “core group” of people is hurtful, Higgins says. That discourages people from stepping forward to serve.
10:08 p.m. Petersen thanks Briere for the correction on the bylaws, and apologizes to Taylor. Hieftje wants to move it along to a vote.
10:08 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the three-term limit. Teall and Taylor dissent.
10:09 p.m. Warpehoski asks for clarification of the TIF cap. It grows by 3.5%, is the explanation.
10:13 p.m. Taylor says that even though the stated intention is not to harm the DDA, the buying power of the DDA would be reduced by half over the next 10 years. That’s an incredible harm to the downtown, Taylor says. Only half of the excess would come to the city of Ann Arbor, he says. Lumm replies that the amount of TIF the DDA would receive would grow “handsomely” over the next few years.
10:13 p.m. Lumm says that she appreciates the work that has been done on this. She laments the fact that the discussion had become a litmus test of whether someone supports the DDA.
10:13 p.m. Lumm says Higgins was wise to create the joint DDA council committee.
10:16 p.m. To be clear, the council is now discussing the main motion. Hieftje says he is glad that the previous version was not pursued. Hieftje says that if the city is going to survive under Michigan’s funding system, it needs growth. Ann Arbor is fortunate to have UM as a job magnate. The park system attracts people, he says. AAPS also has high quality schools. The vibrant downtown is also an attractant. The DDA is a prime factor for success, says Hieftje.
10:19 p.m. Kailasapathy asks Crawford about the Justice Center bond repayment schedule. She’s referring to the $8 million mentioned in the DDA’s 2008 resolution that goes to the bond repayment. Crawford gives an explanation in terms of the “present value of money.” She points out that the DDA ends in 2033, which goes five years past the end of the DDA’s TIF plan.
10:20 p.m. Kunselman thanks the DDA board members for going through this with him. He makes further conciliatory remarks.
10:21 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give initial approval to the DDA ordinance revision.
10:21 p.m. DC-1 Digital billboard on E. Stadium Blvd. At the council’s Oct. 21 meeting, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) announced the intent to bring forward the resolution, which requests that the University of Michigan decommission the $2.8 million digital billboard that it’s constructed on E. Stadium Blvd. The city’s fallback position is a request that the university operate the billboard (marquee) only around the time of major events at the football stadium or the Crisler Center. The resolution cites the city’s own recently enacted sign ordinance, which constrains the deployment of digital technology for outdoor signs.
According to the resolution, the marquee inflicts the same harms on the community that the city’s newly amended ordinance sought to prevent. [Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) – who co-sponsored the resolution with Taylor, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) – voted against that ordinance.] Those harms are described in the resolution as “distract[ing] motorists and substantially degrad[ing] the community viewshed…”
10:26 p.m. Hieftje asks that the council not spend a whole lot of time on this. [UM head of community relations Jim Kosteva is in the audience.] Taylor reads aloud some remarks. Teall thanks Taylor for putting it all together. She’d heard comments that the city shouldn’t be bothered because the sign is across from the golf course. She points out that it does face the drivers.
Warpehoski describes the negotiation theory of wish-want-walk. He thinks the absolute minimum the UM should adhere to is FHA (Federal Highway Administration) rules – no animation. He wonders if someone can ask if the brightness of the sign can be adjusted. Kosteva says that the sign complies with the brightness standards. Except for videos shown on game day, he says, the animation does comply with federal standards. Warpehoski says he doesn’t think it’s acceptable to say “We follow the law most of the time.”
10:32 p.m. Higgins says in the interest of sustainability, it doesn’t make sense to have the sign lit at midnight. Kunselman wonders if anyone asked a UM regent about the issue when the marquee was in the planning stages. Kunselman says that he doesn’t want to have the university and the city “lobbing” resolutions back and forth. He doesn’t want to get a resolution from the regents saying, Why don’t you pave the road in front of the stadium?
10:33 p.m. Teall blames the university for not reaching out to the city. Kunselman asks Kosteva why the city wasn’t informed. Kosteva responds by saying his intent was to be present, to be a listener and to take the council’s concerns back to the university.
10:36 p.m. Lumm thanks Kosteva for being there. She’s reading aloud a statement.
10:38 p.m. Anglin says it’s the same drivers who go past it, so he questions what effect it has.
10:41 p.m. Taylor counters Kunselman’s contention that the resolution is heavy-handed, saying that it was open and temperate communication. Petersen wonders if the UM would consider showing public service announcements from the city on the marquee.
10:41 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to approve the resolution requesting the University of Michigan decommission its $2.8 million billboard.
10:41 p.m. DC-2 Accepting PAC downtown parks subcommittee report on downtown parks. This resolution would accept the report of a subcommittee of the city’s park advisory commission, which studied the question of the need and best location for additional downtown parks. The subcommittee delivered its recommendations at the Oct. 15, 2013 meeting of PAC and PAC voted to recommend them to the city council for adoption. [.pdf of 21-page full subcommittee report]
The eight recommendations are wide-ranging, but include a site-specific recommendation to develop a new park/open space area on the top of the Library Lot underground parking structure. Now a surface parking lot, the site is owned by the city and is situated just north of the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown building. The recommendation calls for only a portion of the site to be used for a new park/open space, and stresses that AADL should be involved in the planning process. [For more background, see Downtown: Parks above.]
10:42 p.m. Taylor is introducing the resolution.
10:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted over dissent from Mike Anglin (Ward 5) to accept the report on downtown parks.
10:43 p.m. DC-3 Ethics resolution The resolution does not include “ethics” in the title, but addresses the kind of issues that could be described under the general rubric of “ethics.” The resolution directs an educational effort on Public Act 317 of 1968, which is the state’s conflict-of-interest statute. A final “resolved” clause direct the council’s rules committee to draft standards of conduct for local officials based on Public Act 196 of 1973, which applies to state employees of the executive branch and appointees of the governor. The final resolved clause – if it’s approved, and if the council adopts a standard that’s recommended by the council rules committee and it’s strictly followed – would end any unauthorized leaks of information from the city government.
10:43 p.m. Petersen, who is the sponsor of the resolution, asks for postponement.
10:44 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone direction for education on professional standards and tasking the rules committee with drafting standards of conduct.
10:44 p.m. DC-4 Pedestrian safety task force. The resolution establishing the task force acknowledges that many residents are concerned that current city policies create an unsafe environment for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The pedestrian safety and access task force would consist of nine residents. Applications from interested citizens should be turned in to the mayor’s office by Nov. 22, 2013. [.pdf of standard city board and commission task force application]
The intent is to appoint the task force at the Dec. 2, 2013 city council meeting. The task force would deliver a report by early September 2014. [For more background, see Non-Motorized Issues: Pedestrian Safety above.]
10:53 p.m. Briere is introducing the resolution. She responds to Griswold’s suggestion during public commentary that the AAPS transportation safety committee be adapted to this purpose. But Briere notes that the TSC is not a city committee. Briere gives the rationale for the creation of the committee.
Warpehoski explains that there’s been a lot of interest in participation but the size of the task force was intended to provide focus and to allow the group to operate efficiently. Powers says that the task force won’t staff itself and would depend on any budget the council might approve. A budget is not a part of tonight’s resolution. Briere says she’s received positive communication from the University of Michigan about participation, and thinks that some of the cost could be offset by the UM.
10:57 p.m. Kunselman wonders if the timeline isn’t too aggressive. He questions if it’s realistic. Kunselman ticks through some of the items in the cost analysis, and wonders if it really would be $100,000. Kunselman asks where the funding would come from.
Public services area administrator Craig Hupy confirms it would be on the order of $100,000. [.pdf of Nov. 7 memo on pedestrian safety] It would have to come from the general fund. Kunselman questions what the goal of the task force would actually be. Warpehoski says if people want to put it off and take more time, he’s willing to postpone. Kunselman comes back to the point of an aggressive timeline. Staff resources are limited, he says, and there are other issues that might need to be focused on.
11:06 p.m. Kunselman isn’t sure the resolution is really ready. He doesn’t think the work is going to be done by September 2014. It took 8 months just to get a DDA ordinance passed, he notes. Briere argues for the establishment of a task force. Hieftje wonders if Warpehoski and Briere would be amenable to postponement. Briere says she will support that, but wants her colleagues to focus on recruitment of volunteers for the task force. Petersen will support postponement, but wonders if this task force shouldn’t be a standing committee, instead.
11:07 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to postpone the creation of the pedestrian safety task force.
11:07 p.m. DC-5 Y Lot sales agreement. The resolution would direct city administrator Steve Powers to negotiate a sales agreement with Dennis Dahlmann for the purchase of the city-owned property north of William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues in downtown Ann Arbor. Dahlmann has offered $5.25 million for the property, known as the Y lot. It had been listed at $4.2 million. The city has a $3.5 million balloon payment on a loan it took out to purchase the property, which it has now owned for 10 years. [.pdf of Dahlmann offer 10.17.13]
If negotiations with Dahlmann are not successful, then the resolution directs the city administrator to negotiate with CA Ventures (Clark Street Holdings). The bids from Dahlmann and CA Ventures were judged to be the two best out of the five bids on the property the city received by the Oct. 18 deadline. [.pdf of summary page by Jim Chaconas] The resolution directs the city administrator to present to the council a sales agreement – with Dahlmann or CA Ventures – for consideration at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. [For more background, see Downtown: Y Lot Sale above.]
11:08 p.m. From the audience, Donald Salberg asks if he could comment. No, says Hieftje.
11:11 p.m. Taylor says he has been concerned all along about the use of the property. He says that the city and the community should understand more clearly what the property would be used for. He says that he’s forwarded an amendment to his colleagues. The resolution would direct how the sales agreement would be structured – with an obligation that a structure be built, and that the building be energy efficient and that the AAATA be involved in the conversation.
11:16 p.m. Taylor is now reading aloud the amendment. There’s a minimum 400% FAR including mixed use on the bottom floor, office space on the mid-floors and residential on the top floors. The uses are essentially those that are described in Dahlmann’s letter. The deadline for building something is January 2018. There’s a prohibition against sale to another third party except that the city has a right of first refusal.
11:17 p.m. Taylor continues with reading aloud the amendments on requirement for energy efficiency and the required conversation with the AAATA.
11:19 p.m. Petersen checks the arithmetic on 400% FAR. She confirms that Taylor is rounding 350% FAR to 400%. Briere contends that D1 requires 400% at a minimum anyway.
11:21 p.m. Teall says she’s concerned about the future use. She thinks that a hotel would be suitable for that parcel. She feels that visitors to the downtown are an economic generator. She appreciates the amendments.
11:25 p.m. Hieftje invites broker Jim Chaconas to the podium. He compliments Chaconas on his good work. Hieftje wants to pay off the debt. He doesn’t want to roll the dice and refinance. He asks Chaconas if the additional requests might cause Dahlmann or CA Ventures to balk. Chaconas says some of the requests make sense. But he doesn’t want to put too many restrictions on it. Dahlmann is offering a lot of money for the property, he says. Hieftje ventures that there’s an opportunity for negotiation.
11:26 p.m. Lumm says that the resolution is not written like a negotiation. She wants to “pound through” the amendments with Chaconas.
11:28 p.m. On the 400% FAR minimum, Chaconas contends that it’s a part of D1 zoning.
11:31 p.m. Kailasapathy asks Chaconas about the energy efficiency clauses. Briere stresses that Dahlmann would need to seek premiums to build more densely than 400%. Chaconas says that the amendments are items that have mostly been discussed with councilmembers.
11:33 p.m. Warpehoski says that he’s breaking council rules to disseminate Taylor’s amendments to the press. Kunselman thanks Chaconas. Kunselman says use can’t be controlled. What the council wants is a really nice building. He doesn’t think the amendments overload the property with use requirements.
11:36 p.m. Petersen points out that there are other city-owned properties that could be developed – responding to the possibility that the council doesn’t get the use it wants for this parcel.
11:37 p.m. The vote on the amendments is unanimous. [.pdf of Taylor's amendments.]
11:37 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the resolution, as amended, directing the city administrator to negotiate a sales agreement with Dennis Dahlmann for the sale of the former Y lot in downtown Ann Arbor.
11:37 p.m. DC-6 “Eat the Street” temporary food sales. The council is being asked to grant approval, under Chapter 55 (Zoning), Section 5:10.15(h) of the city code, for temporary sales of food at the vacant property at 1215 South University. The request is being made of the council by the South University Area Association (SUAA), which is planning a special event from Nov. 8, 2013 through Jan. 8, 2014. SUAA wants its “Eat the Street” event to include outdoor food cart sales at the location.
11:38 p.m. Lumm is thanking the South University Area Association and everyone’s hard work.
11:38 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the temporary sales of food for “Eat the Street.”
11:38 p.m. DC-7 Amicus brief on abortion clinic protest buffer zones. This resolution was added to the council’s agenda at around 4 p.m. today. It would list Ann Arbor as a “supporting municipality” in an amicus brief to be filed with the United States Supreme Court in a case to be heard by the court in McCullen v. Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The plaintiff in that case is challenging a law creating a 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts abortion clinics, where people cannot demonstrate.
The city of Ann Arbor would be weighing in to support the idea that laws can be enacted establishing buffers around abortion clinics where people cannot demonstrate. Tangentially related to buffer zones for protest, in 1990 Ann Arbor voters agreed to amend the city charter to establish the city as a “zone of reproductive freedom.” From Chapter 20 of the Ann Arbor city charter: “No person within the City of Ann Arbor shall violate any law, rule, or regulation of this state which restricts or prohibits the right of any woman to an abortion, or which restricts or prohibits the right of a person to perform an abortion, as such right existed on January 20, 1981.” The resolution is co-sponsored by Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2).
11:39 p.m. Taylor invites city attorney Stephen Postema to explain the background.
11:43 p.m. Postema argues for his position based on the need for local authorities to exercise appropriate authority to balance time, place and manner considerations with First Amendment rights. He assures Taylor that it would not be a burden of city attorney resources, saying he merely needs to inform the filers of the amicus brief of the council’s vote.
11:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve placing the city of Ann Arbor as a supporting municipality signing on to the amicus brief.
11:43 p.m. DB-1 Non-motorized transportation plan. The council is being asked to adopt an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, which is part of the city’s master plan. The planning commission adopted the plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update] [For more background, see Non-Motorized Issues: Non-Motorized Plan Update above.]
11:44 p.m. Briere asks Hupy to the podium. He defers to transportation program manager Eli Cooper and city planning manager Wendy Rampson.
11:51 p.m. Lumm says that with so many items on the agenda, she hasn’t had time to read through the plan. She wonders if there’s support for postponement. Hieftje allows that Lumm is right about it being an important document. There’s been a tremendous amount of work on the plan, Hieftje says. It’s already been through an extensive process. Surrounding municipalities have reviewed it, and it has been adopted by the planning commission. Hieftje is not inclined to postpone.
Kunselman asks if the plan has implications for grant eligibility. Yes, says Cooper. He gives an example of a non-motorized bridge across US-23 that was funded because it was indicated in the city’s non-motorized plan. Anglin says the council has heard a request from Lumm for more time. Lumm now moves for postponement.
11:54 p.m. Hieftje indicates that he’s already expressed his opinion. Briere allows it’s possible to be overloaded during campaign season. But she’s followed the plan in its development and now she’s ready to vote on it. There were no surprises in the update, she says. She feels that there are times when the council postpones beyond what’s reasonable. The item was on the agenda on Thursday. Kunselman says that postponing won’t hurt anything. It won’t cause any problems, he says. Teall says she’s ready to vote.
11:55 p.m. Lumm alludes to the solid waste plan, which the council had decided it needed to amend.
11:57 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone the update to the non-motorized plan. Voting for postponement were Kailasapathy, Petersen, Lumm, Kunselman, Higgins and Anglin.
11:57 p.m. DB-2 Site plan: Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. The council is being asked to approve a site plan for the expansion of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church at 1717 Broadway St. The city planning commission recommended approval of the project at its Oct. 1, 2013 meeting. The site plan proposal calls for tearing down five existing buildings and constructing a 12,850-square-foot, two-story addition to the rear of the church. The addition would be used for educational activities at the church, which is located on a 4.3-acre site in Ward 1, southwest of Broadway’s intersection with Plymouth Road.
11:58 p.m. A representative of the project is giving a description of the project at Briere’s request.
11:58 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the site plan for Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church on Broadway.
11:58 p.m. DS-1 through DS-6 MDEQ for SAW. The next six resolutions are grant requests, related to state legislation passed in 2012 that forms the statutory framework of the Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) program – a grant program. The legislation funds grants and loans for what the staff memo accompanying the resolutions describes as “funding for grants and loans for asset management plan development, stormwater management plan development, sewage collection and treatment design plan development, and state-funded loans to construct projects identified in the asset management plans.”
Although communities that are awarded grants can receive a maximum of $2 million in total grant funds through the SAW program, the city of Ann Arbor is applying for the following six grants, on the idea that it will maximize its chances if the state uses a lottery type system. [For more background, see Capital Projects: State Funding of Water Asset Projects above.]
11:59 p.m. Hieftje is putting the six resolutions before the council all in one go.
11:59 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to approve all of the MDEQ grant requests through the SAW program.
12:00 a.m. DS-7 Barton Dam repair ($123,684). The council is being asked to approve a contract with Catskill Remedial Contracting Services Inc. to install a “drainage blanket” for the earthen berm adjoining Barton Dam ($123,685). A drainage blanket is a pervious but stable layer of material installed directly at the base of a structure to facilitate drainage. The installation is meant to repair a “boil” that has surfaced in the drainage ditch at the base on the right embankment at the dam. The boil has been identified as a potential cause of failure for the embankment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – which is responsible for regulating the dam, because the dam generates electric power. [For more background, see Capital Projects: Barton Dam Repair above.]
12:00 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the contract with Catskill to install the drainage blanket.
12:00 a.m. DS-8 I-94 Business Loop and South Maple Road resurfacing project ($301,600). This project resurfaces the section of Huron Street from Main Street westward as Huron becomes Jackson Avenue on to I-94. The project will include a re-striping to reduce the number of lanes from four to three and add bicycle lanes. On the agenda is approval of an agreement with MDOT, which is required because the city must contribute 12.5% of the funding to the resurfacing. That accounts for $198,700. The additional funding is needed to pay for the resurfacing of the portion of South Maple Road, as a part of the project. South Maple is a city-owned street. MDOT has agreed to include the South Maple resurfacing as part of the project, but it will be funded by the city of Ann Arbor $102,900. [For more background, see Capital Projects: I-94 Business Loop ($301,600) above.]
12:00 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously without discussion to approve the MDOT contract.
12:00 a.m. DS-9 Sidewalk special assessment resolution – Stone School Road. This is the first of a series of resolutions that could lead to special assessment of property owners on Stone School Road for construction of sidewalks, curb and gutter as a part of a road reconstruction project. The resolution simply directs the city administrator to prepare plans and specifications for the sidewalk improvement project, determine an estimate of the cost, and make a recommendation on what portion of the cost should be special assessed. [For more background, see Capital Projects: Stone School Road Sidewalk above.]
12:02 a.m. Kunselman reports that there was a good public meeting on the topic. An issue that had arisen was the desire for more streetlights. He says it’s significant that there’s an 80% federal grant supporting the assessed costs.
12:02 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct the design and cost estimates for the Stone School Road sidewalk project.
12:02 a.m. DS-10 Sidewalk special assessment resolution – Scio Church. This is the first in a series of resolutions that could lead to special assessment of property owners on Scio Church, west of Seventh Street for construction of a sidewalk there to eliminate a gap. The resolution directs the city administrator to prepare plans and specifications for the sidewalk improvement project, determine an estimate of the cost, and make a recommendation on what portion of the cost should be special assessed. The Scio Church resolution appropriates $35,000 for the design work. [For more background, see Capital Projects: Scio Church Sidewalk above.]
12:03 a.m. Teall says it’s another very exciting project. She thanks neighborhood resident Peter Houk for his work.
12:04 a.m. Higgins has a question for Craig Hupy. Scio Church Road is coming up for reconstruction, she ventures. Hupy says it’s on the radar but was pretty far off.
12:04 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct preparation of sidewalk design for Scio Church.
12:05 a.m. DS-11 Tech engineering services ($250,000). The council will be asked to approve two different contracts that resulted from a bid that the city put out in June 2013 – for technical engineering services to support the water treatment services unit with capital, operation, and maintenance project support for the water system, dams, and hydroelectric generating stations. One of the contracts is with Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc. ($250,000). The other contract is with Tetra Tech of Michigan ($250,000). First up is Stantec.
12:05 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Stantec.
12:05 a.m. DS-12 Tech engineering services ($250,000). This is the second of two contracts related to the same RFP put out by the city. This one goes to Tetra Tech of Michigan.
12:05 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Tetra Tech.
12:05 a.m. DS-13 Purchase ozone generator dielectrics ($68,209). The council is being asked to approve a purchase order with Ozonia for ozone generator dielectrics. The city uses ozone in its disinfection process for its drinking water.
12:06 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the purchase of ozone generator dielectrics.
12:06 a.m. DS-14 Domestic violence grant ($300,000). The resolution accepts a three-year $300,000 supplemental grant for the 15th District Court from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance countywide efforts to prevent domestic violence, effective Sept. 12, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016. [For more background on this and the next five resolutions, see Social Capital: 15th District Court above.]
12:06 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the domestic violence prevention grant.
12:06 a.m. DS-15 Drug court grant ($144,000). The resolution accepts a Michigan Supreme Court drug court grant for the 15th District Court. The 15th District Court’s sobriety court is “hyper-intensive probation,” which follows sentencing.
12:06 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the drug court grant.
12:06 a.m. DS-16 Dawn Farm contract ($88,000). The resolution authorizes a contract with Dawn Farm for out-patient drug abuse counseling as part of the 15th District Court’s sobriety court ($88,000).
12:07 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to authorize the contract with Dawn Farm.
12:07 a.m. DS-17 Veterans court grant ($92,279). The resolution accepts the Michigan Supreme Court veterans treatment court program grant.
12:07 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the veterans court grant.
12:07 a.m. DS-18 SafeHouse Center contract ($114,000). This resolution authorizes a contract with SafeHouse to provide domestic violence preventions services ($114,000), using funds accepted under DS-14. Under terms of the contract, SafeHouse Center will provide confidential support, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence cases in the 15th Judicial District Court, 14A Judicial Court and 14B Judicial District Court; monitor court and probation activity as it relates to victim safety; work collaboratively to enhance victim safety; and offer advice and training to judges, magistrates, probation and compliance officers and community partners.
12:08 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to authorize the contract with SafeHouse.
12:08 a.m. DS-20 Accept public utilities easement. The property is located at 490 Huron Parkway owned by Johnson Building Group LLC.
12:08 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the easement.
12:08 a.m. DS-21 Accept public utilities easement. The property is located at 1500 Pauline Ave., owned by Pauline Apartments Limited Dividend Housing Association Limited Partnership.
12:08 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the public utilities easement.
12:09 a.m. DS-22 Vacate a public utilities easement. The property is located at 3100 Washtenaw Ave. (Arbor Hills Crossing).
12:09 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to vacate the easement.
12:12 a.m. Council communications. Warpehoski says that with the Y lot resolution, there was a step towards having more money in the city’s affordable housing trust fund. He’d had conversations with some Washtenaw County commissioners about a county site on Platt Road. One of the possible uses for that county-owned property is affordable housing. He says that the city might want to be a partner with the county on the issue of affordable housing.
12:13 a.m. Briere is talking about affordable housing.
12:14 a.m. Hieftje says that in his experience the only way you get anything done on the issue of affordable housing is when you have partners.
12:14 a.m. Public commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
12:21 a.m. Seth Best from Camp Take Notice thanks the council for their action on the park permitting ordinance. He shares his experience as a homeless person in Ann Arbor. While the warming shelter will be opening on Nov. 18, there’s not sufficient capacity, he says. Ed Vielmetti is now addressing the council. He’d followed the meeting for a while on CTN tonight, and had come down to address the council. He asks the council to be more clear about the outcome of votes. He notes that it’s difficult to watch the meetings at local establishments like bars and laundromats without closed captioning. He gives a plug for the civic technology meetup group that he’s started.
12:25 a.m. Caleb Poirer thanks Higgins for her service. He thanks Kunselman for his efforts on affordable housing. He thanks Briere for bringing up the possibility of the city matching the DDA’s contribution to affordable housing. He regretted some of the comments of public speakers at the start of the meeting that had characterized the leadership of Ann Arbor negatively. But he was going to join those who spoke in support of their advocacy.
12:28 a.m. Farewell to Higgins. Teall leads off by saying, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” She calls Higgins a great friend and a mentor. Teall tells Higgins her institutional memory has been very valuable. Hieftje has left his seat. Higgins is invited to take the seat as mayor pro tem. Taylor is now praising Higgins for her hard work.
12:29 a.m. Taylor says Higgins is good at taking care of slow, important things.
12:29 a.m. The beauty of Higgins’ being permeates the room and makes him joyful, Kunselman says. He praises her for her firmness and her longevity.
12:34 a.m. Lumm says Higgins has so many magnificent qualities. Higgins is going to blaze new trails, Lumm says. She calls Higgins a “class act.” She thanks her for her many years of service. Petersen thanks Higgins for welcoming Petersen to the council. She says she’ll miss her phone conversations with Higgins. Briere says she figures Higgins must get tired of all the praise. She recalls the time that the council used the county board room when city hall was being renovated, and Higgins had suggested that councilmembers sit next to different people.
12:38 a.m. Briere thanks Higgins for her body language. Kailasapathy says that she’d received some stares so she jokes she must not have been behaving. Anglin tells Higgins that Ann Arbor is a better town for her service. Warpehoski says he appreciates Higgins’ experience. On a lighter note, Warpehoski says he now feels less pressure to change his name to something that begins with “M” – alluding to Margie Teall, Mike Anglin, and Marcia Higgins.
12:39 a.m. Hieftje is now delivering his remarks. He thanks Higgins for her service. He reminds everyone that she’s not leaving town and that you can still have a beer with her.
12:41 a.m. Higgins is reviewing all the councilmembers she’s served with. It’s been “an amazing journey,” she says. Each and every person who’d previously sat there had helped her, so it was gratifying to hear people say that she’d helped them. She calls the current administrator the best of those she’d served with. “Thank you all,” she concludes. She gets a round of applause.
12:44 a.m. Teall brings up a bag with a city of Ann Arbor jacket and presents it to Higgins. City administrator Steve Powers has lost his balance and has fallen out of his chair. [See clarifying comment below that "... Powers actually rolled the wheel of his chair off the elevated platform where the mayor and administrator sit."]
12:44 a.m. Powers is unscathed.
12:44 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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