Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 18, 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 Nov. 18, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council is the first one with the new post-election composition of the 11-member council. The one new member of the council is Jack Eaton (Ward 4), who prevailed in the August Democratic primary contested with Marcia Higgins. She concluded 14 years of council service at her final meeting on Nov. 7.
The Nov. 18 meeting will include ceremonial swearing in of all councilmembers who won election on Nov. 5 – including Eaton, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).
Three other items internal to the council organizational configuration appear on the agenda: approval of the 2014 city council rules; appointment of the 2014 city council committees; and election of mayor pro tem, as well as establishing the order of succession for acting mayor.
In recent years, the rules and the committee appointments have been put off until the first meeting in December, with only the election of mayor pro tem taking place at the second meeting in November. Higgins had served as mayor pro tem since 2008.
Speculation among some council sources indicate that Lumm could have sufficient support on the council to win election as mayor pro tem. Mayor pro tem fulfills the duties of mayor when the mayor is out of town or unable to perform those duties. The mayor pro tem’s salary is the same as other councilmembers, which is $15,913. Customarily, the order of mayoral succession has followed seniority on the council, with councilmembers who were elected in the same year sorted alphabetically.
A substantial portion of the council’s Nov. 18 agenda consists of items the council has seen at least once before – some through postponement and others by the nature of the standard approval process. In the standard-process category, the council will be asked to confirm a handful of appointments to boards and commissions that were nominated on Nov. 7.
The council will also consider giving final approval to two ordinance revisions that received initial approval at the council’s Nov. 7 meeting. One of those ordinance revisions involves changing the permitting requirements for use of public parks – so that fees would be waived for organizations that use parks to distribute goods to meet basic human needs.
A second ordinance revision that will be up for final approval on Nov. 18 is a change to the ordinance regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance capture and board governance.
Although it’s not yet on the online agenda, the council would expect to see a sales agreement for the former Y lot presented for consideration. The council had directed the city administrator to negotiate with Dennis Dahlmann for the sale of the land, based on his $5.25 million offer, and to present a sales agreement for approval on Nov. 18. [See 4:17 p.m. update below]
Several items on the Nov. 18 agenda were postponed from previous meetings. One of those was first seen on Nov. 7 – a resolution sponsored by Sally Petersen (Ward 2), which would direct an educational effort for local officials and the public on conflict of interest and ethics issues.
Several other items postponed from previous meetings are tied together by a transportation theme. The city council will be considering for a second time a revision to the articles of incorporation of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to admit Ypsilanti Township as a member and to increase the board membership from 9 to 10 members so that the township can appoint a member.
Postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was the adoption of an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, so the council will have a second look at that plan on Nov. 18.
Also postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was a resolution to establish a pedestrian safety task force. It’s unclear if that task force will have sufficient traction to be appointed – because it was postponed amid concerns about the budget needed to support the task force’s work. The task force sponsors, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1), have indicated their intent is not to make the task force an alternative to repealing the city’s mid-block crosswalk ordinance. [See 3:45 p.m. update below]
The repeal of language in the crosswalk ordinance will get its first reading at the council’s Nov. 18 meeting. The ordinance could be altered so that slowing (not necessarily stopping) would be a legal way to yield to pedestrians within crosswalks. The ordinance would be further changed so that only pedestrians within crosswalks (not those standing at the curb) would need to be accommodated by motorists.
Also related to streets are two resolutions authorizing the closing of streets in connection with New Year’s celebrations – on New Year’s Eve for the Puck Drops Here in downtown Ann Arbor, and on New Year’s Day for the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game at Michigan Stadium.
The agenda features a few separate resolutions on standard easements and some rezoning requests. One of those rezoning requests is not standard – and was recommended by the planning commission for denial. That’s a request for rezoning a parcel on Packard Road from single-family to two-family.
The council will also be asked to authorize the city’s participation in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification Program.
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 Monday 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.
Much of the council’s Nov. 18 agenda covers topics familiar from previous meetings – items that were moved forward as part of the standard approval process.
Familiar Business: Appointments
Nominations made on Nov. 7, which the council will be asked to confirm on Nov. 18, include Peter Greenfield to the airport advisory council replacing Wilson Tanner, and Anthony Ramirez to be reappointed to the cable communications commission.
On the housing and human services advisory 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 reappointment to the city’s human rights commission.
Nominations to be put forward on Nov. 18 are not yet posted on the Legistar agenda.
However, those might eventually include some nominations to the local officers compensation commission (LOCC) – the group that sets the salaries for city councilmembers, including the mayor.
The city’s Legistar system shows only two members of seven-member group without expired terms – Eunice Burns and Roger Hewitt. Hewitt also serves on the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. So the legal basis for Hewitt’s membership appears dubious in light of the prohibition against service on the LOCC for anyone who’s an employee or member of any branch of any government.
The LOCC is supposed to meet in every odd-numbered year, but has not yet met in 2013.
Familiar Business: Public Park Use Fee Waiver
The council will be giving final 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, a downtown park.
The council gave initial approval to the ordinance change at its Nov. 7 meeting. All changes to city ordinances require an initial approval, followed by a final vote at a subsequent meeting.
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 now on the council’s Nov. 18 agenda, would amend Chapter 39, Section 3:6 of the city code. [.pdf of revised ordinance language]
The ordinance change would provide 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.
Familiar Business: DDA TIF, Governance
A second ordinance revision that will be up for final approval at the Nov. 18 meeting is a change to the ordinance (Chapter 7) regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance capture and its board governance.
The outcome of deliberations at the council’s Nov. 7 meeting was to table a version of the Chapter 7 changes that had been under consideration by the council since Feb. 19, 2013.
The council then gave initial approval on Nov. 7 to a different version of the Chapter 7 changes. Those recommendations came from 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 were Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2). Representing the DDA were Sandi Smith, Roger Hewitt, Bob Guenzel and Joan Lowenstein.
The committee’s version of the Chapter 7 ordinance change would allow for several million dollars in additional TIF capture by the DDA, compared to the tabled version. The version in front of the council on Nov. 18 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. It would mean an estimated return of $300,000 total to the other taxing jurisdictions.
That amount 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%).
The $300,000 total to be divided by the other taxing jurisdictions in FY 2017 compares to roughly $2 million that would be divided among them under the tabled version of the Chapter 7 revision. The tabled version essentially clarifies the enforcement of existing language in the ordinance. In both versions – assuming that new construction in the DDA district continues to take place at a healthy pace – taxing jurisdictions would continue to receive additional funds into the future after FY 2017.
The city’s share of the estimated $300,000 in excess TIF in FY 2017 would be about $180,000. But that would be distributed proportionally across the city’s funds based on the levy associated with the fund. For example, out of the $180,000, the general fund would get about $65,000. That compares to $430,000 that the city’s general fund would receive based on the tabled Chapter 7 approach.
Although the committee did not put forth a recommendation on governance, the tabled version included various provisions on changes to governance. Those governance revisions included: (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, according to the tabled version.
On Nov. 7, after debating the issue, the council amended the new version to include a limitation on terms. The version that’s up for final consideration on Nov. 18 would impose a limit of three four-year terms, with additional terms possible only after a four-year lapse.
On Nov. 7, during deliberations, the council also added a requirement that the DDA budget at least $300,000 each year for affordable housing projects, with “affordable” defined as targeting residents with 50% area median income (AMI).
Familiar Business: Former Y Lot Sale
Although it’s not yet on the online agenda, the council will expect to see a sales agreement for the former Y lot presented for their consideration. The council voted on Nov. 7 to direct the city administrator to negotiate with Dennis Dahlmann for the sale of the land and to present a sales agreement for approval on Nov. 18.
The Nov. 7 resolution had been added to the agenda on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. It directed city administrator Steve Powers to negotiate a sales agreement with 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 purchased the property for $3.5 million 10 years ago and has been making interest-only payments on the property for that time. A balloon payment is due at the end of this year. [.pdf of Dahlmann offer 10.17.13]
The original resolution directed the inclusion of a provision to ensure eventual development of the site. But during the Nov. 7 deliberations, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) put forward amendments that were far more detailed about how protection against non-development was to be achieved. Those amendments were adopted by the council as part of the direction to the administrator. [.pdf of Taylor's amendments.]
Taylor’s amendments included a minimum 400% floor area ratio (FAR) including mixed use on the bottom floor, office space on the mid-floors and residential on the top floors. 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. The amendments also gave direction on requirements for energy efficiency and a required conversation with the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, which operates the Blake Transit Center next door to the parcel.
If negotiations with Dahlmann are not successful, then the resolution directs the city administrator to negotiate with CA Ventures (Clark Street Holdings). CA Ventures had increased its offer to $5.35 million – but that increased amount was received after the deadline for offers, which was firm and clearly communicated to bidders, according to the city’s broker.
The city received five bids on the property by the Oct. 18 deadline. The city had hired Colliers International and local broker Jim Chaconas to handle the possible sale. [.pdf of summary page by Chaconas]
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.
Several items on the Nov. 18 agenda were postponed from previous meetings.
Delayed Business: Ethics
First considered by the council on Nov. 7 was a resolution sponsored by Sally Petersen (Ward 2), which would direct an educational effort for local officials on conflict of interest and ethics issues. On Nov. 7 Petersen herself moved immediately to postpone consideration of the resolution, due to the very heavy agenda that night.
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.
Delayed Business: Transportation – AAATA
Several other items postponed from previous meetings are tied together by a transportation theme.
The city council will be considering for a second time a revision to the articles of incorporation of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to admit Ypsilanti Township as a member and to increase the board membership from 9 to 10 members so that the township can appoint a member. The council had postponed the action at its Oct. 21, 2013 meeting.
The vote to postpone was 8-3 with dissent from mayor John Hieftje, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4).
At its Sept. 26, 2013 meeting, the AAATA board already approved the membership of Ypsilanti Township. That action was contingent on approval by the Ann Arbor city council.
An earlier expansion in membership was given final approval by the AAATA board at its June 20, 2013 meeting. That’s when the city of Ypsilanti was admitted as a member of the AAATA and its board was increased from seven to nine members, one of whom is appointed by the city of Ypsilanti. The name of the authority was also changed at that time to add the word “area” – making it the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. [Amendment 3 of the AAATA articles of incorporation]
The expansion of the AAATA’s geographic footprint to include some jurisdictions geographically close to the city of Ann Arbor – and with whom the AAATA has historically had purchase-of-service agreements (POSAs) – would set the stage for a possible request of voters in the expanded geographic area to approve additional transportation funding to pay for increased service frequencies and times.
The AAATA could place a millage request on the ballot in May 2014, probably at the level of 0.7 mills, to support a 5-year service improvement plan that the AAATA has developed. A schedule of public meetings to introduce that plan runs through mid-November.
Delayed Business: Transportation – Non-Motorized Plan
Postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was the adoption of an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan. So the council will have a second look at that plan on Nov. 18. The postponement on Nov. 7 came in deference to a request from Jane Lumm (Ward 2), who indicated she had not had an opportunity to read it through as closely as she wanted.
The city’s non-motorized transportation plan is part of the city’s master plan. The planning commission adopted the updated plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update] With respect to the adoption of the master plan, the council and the planning commission are on equal footing. That is, they must adopt the same plan. So in this case, the commission is not merely the recommending body.
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.
Delayed Business: Transportation – Pedestrian Safety Task Force
Also postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was a resolution to establish a pedestrian safety task force. So that will again be before the council for consideration on Nov. 18. It’s unclear if that task force will have sufficient traction to be appointed – because it was postponed amid concerns about the budget needed to support the task force’s work. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy described the staff and other support for the task force as costing on the order of $100,000. [.pdf of Nov. 7 memo on pedestrian safety]
The pedestrian safety 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.”
The task force sponsors, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1), have indicated their intent is not to make the task force an alternative to repealing the city’s mid-block crosswalk ordinance.
New Business: Crosswalk Ordinance
One piece of transportation business that’s new before the council on Nov. 18 is the repeal of language in the city crosswalk ordinance.
The city’s ordinance differs from the state’s 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 explicitly to take action to accommodate pedestrians standing at the curb at a crosswalk, not just those pedestrians who have already entered the crosswalk.
The proposal the council will be asked to consider would change the law so that slowing (not necessarily stopping) would be a legal way to yield to pedestrians within crosswalks. The ordinance would be further changed so that only pedestrians within crosswalks (not those standing at the curb, depending on the interpretation of the UTC) would need to be accommodated by motorists.
New Year’s Events
Also related to streets are two resolutions authorizing the closing of streets in connection with New Year’s celebrations – on New Year’s Eve for the Puck Drops Here, and on New Year’s Day for the NHL’s Winter Classic Hockey Game at Michigan Stadium.
The Ann Arbor city council will be asked on Nov. 18 to authorize the closing of public streets in connection with those New Year’s festivities.
New Year’s Events: Puck Drop
In connection with the NHL Winter Classic Game to be played on New Year’s Day, the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting a New Year’s Eve event called The Puck Drops Here, which will mimic the dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square, but with a 6-foot diameter lighted “puck” that is being fabricated by METAL.
The name of the event is a play on words. In the game of ice hockey, the start of action is marked with an official dropping of the puck between two opposing players – the puck drop. It’s similar to the tip-off in basketball. The name of the event also plays on the expression popularized by U.S. President Harry Truman: “The buck stops here.”
The requested action from the council includes street closures downtown along Main Street all day on New Year’s Eve.
Specifically, the council will be asked to authorize street closures from 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 to 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The actual event runs from 8 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.
Streets to be closed include:
- S. Main from E. William to Huron
- Liberty Street for a block on either side of Main (from S. Ashley to Fourth Avenue)
- Washington Street for a block on either side of Main (from S. Ashley to Fourth Avenue)
Musical entertainment will feature Michelle Chamuel, who placed second in the most recent edition of the TV vocal competition “The Voice.” She lived in Ann Arbor for a time earlier in her musical career.
New Year’s Events: NHL Winter Classic
The Winter Classic is an NHL hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.
The game will be played outdoors at the University of Michigan football stadium. Game start time is currently listed on the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau as 1 p.m. The back-up date, in case of inclement weather, is Jan. 2.
The resolution that the Ann Arbor city council will be asked to consider on Nov. 18 will implement many of the conditions that apply during University of Michigan home football games. For example, the newly implemented street closures for home football games would also be authorized for the Winter Classic:
- E. Keech Street between S. Main and Greene streets, limiting access to parking permit holders on Greene Street from E. Hoover to Keech streets
- The westbound right turn lane on E. Stadium Boulevard (onto S. Main Street) just south of the Michigan Stadium
- S. Main Street closed to both local and through traffic from Stadium Boulevard to Pauline
Those closures would be effective three hours before the game and last until the end of the game – with the exception of southbound S. Main Street, which would be closed beginning one hour before the game until the end of the game.
The council will also be asked to invalidate peddler/solicitor permits and sidewalk occupancy permits in the following areas:
- S. State Street from E. Hoover Street to the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks
- Along the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks from S. State Street to the viaduct on W. Stadium Boulevard
- W. Stadium Boulevard from the viaduct to S. Main Street
- S. Main Street from W. Stadium Boulevard to Hill Street
- Hill Street from S. Main Street to S. Division Street
- S. Division Street from Hill Street to E. Hoover Street
- E. Hoover Street from S. Division Street to S. State Street
- S. Main Street from Scio Church Road to W. Stadium Boulevard
- W. Stadium Boulevard from S. Main Street to Prescott Avenue
The council will be asked to authorize a special temporary outdoor sales area so that the owners of commercially and office-zoned property fronting on the following streets could use their private yard areas for outdoor sales and display:
- West side of S. Main Street between Stadium Blvd. and Hoover Street
- East side of S. Main Street from 1011 S. Main to Hoover Street
- North side of Hoover Street between S. Main and S. State streets
- North side of W. Stadium Blvd. between S. Main and S. State streets
The council would also be asked to designate the Winter Classic game as a date on which the usual front open space parking prohibition does not apply. So residents who customarily offer their lawns for home football game parking would be able to do so for the Winter Classic as well.
At the most recent meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board, executive director Susan Pollay described for the board how the DDA plans to charge public parking on New Year’s Day – a time when parking would ordinarily be free. That would allow the DDA to take reservations in advance, using the same strategy it uses for art fairs parking in the summer.
The Ann Arbor DDA manages the city’s public parking system under contract with the city, and has the ability to set rates under that contract. There’s a clause in the contract that requires public notice and input for long-term rate increases, but not for one-off changes.
3:45 p.m. Pedestrian Safety Task Force. The resolution is likely to be swapped out with a substitute version that adds some items to the proposed group’s tasks, including addressing sidewalk gaps and creating a tool for setting priorities for funding and filling those gaps. That would conceivably allow the group to tap some of the $75,000 the council allocated this spring in a FY 2014 budget amendment for the prioritization of sidewalks gaps to be eliminated. The timeframe for membership application has shifted in the possible substitute resolution to Dec. 2, with the appointments to be made at the Dec. 16 council meeting. The task force’s report would also not be due until the council’s first meeting in February 2015. [.pdf of substitute pedestrian safety task force resolution]
4:17 p.m. Former Y lot sale. In emails to councilmembers spaced just 14 minutes apart this afternoon, city administrator Steve Powers first indicated that negotiations with Dahlmann were continuing and that he didn’t expect to have a sales agreement ready for tonight’s meeting (3:41 p.m.) and then that Dahlmann had agreed to all the city’s terms (3:55 p.m.). City attorneys are preparing the sales agreement, and Powers expects it to be ready for consideration at tonight’s meeting.
6:24 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.
6:27 p.m. The lobby of city hall is staffed with volunteers from the Vineyard Church and members of Camp Take Notice who are handing out bottled water to council meeting arrivees. They’re here in support of the final consideration of an ordinance change that would waive fees for organizations that use public parks for the purpose of charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs.
6:28 p.m. In chambers, several people are already here in the audience in support of the park fee waiver ordinance. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) is the only councilmember here so far. His computer has been set up by Paul from IT. He’s getting a quick update from city clerk Jackie Beaudry.
6:32 p.m. Ted Annis, Nancy Kaplan and Harvey Kaplan have arrived.
6:40 p.m. Comment overheard in the audience on 35 F temps and 20 mph wind outside: “It’s a tough night to be homeless.”
6:42 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) have now arrived. City attorney Stephen Postema is also here.
6:48 p.m. Mayor John Hieftje arrives with city administrator Steve Powers. Hieftje gives Eaton a friendly pat on the shoulder in passing. Some of the AAATA staff have arrived.
6:52 p.m. Still missing several councilmembers.
6:57 p.m. The sales agreement has now been attached to the online agenda. Price is still $5.25 million with all the requirements in the council’s Nov. 7 resolution in a rider. [link to Dahlmann purchase agreement item]
6:58 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2) have now arrived.
6:59 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) arrives. Ward 3 councilmembers Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman are still not here.
7:02 p.m. Taylor is now here. His first move is to head over to Jack Eaton and welcome him to the council.
7:06 p.m. Alan Haber is here. Eaton collects a hug from Haber. It’s a packed house. The partitions have been pulled back. Jeff Hayner is spotted across the room. Kunselman has now arrived.
7:11 p.m. We’re close to starting.
7:14 p.m. Call to order, pledge of allegiance, moment of silence. And we’re off.
7:15 p.m. Roll call of the council. All councilmembers are present and correct.
7:16 p.m. Approval of agenda. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) wants to make sure the AAATA item might be adjusted later to make sure that Ypsilanti Township supervisor Brenda Stumbo can be there. She hasn’t arrived yet.
7:16 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the agenda.
7:16 p.m. Administration of oath of office. Those taking the oath administered by city clerk Jackie Beaudry are: Sabra Briere (Ward 1); Jane Lumm (Ward 2); Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3); Jack Eaton (Ward 4); and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). The oath is from Section 2 of Article XVI of the Michigan state constitution: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of [city councilmember] according to the best of my ability.”
7:18 p.m. Appoint mayor pro tem, establish order of succession. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) moves to appoint Margie Teall (Ward 4) as mayor pro tem, reasoning that she has the most seniority on the council.
7:19 p.m. Kunselman says he won’t support Teall as mayor pro tem. He says he wants to see fresh blood at the position. He’ll support Lumm. Hieftje says that it’s largely ceremonial and it’s rare for someone to need to fill in.
7:21 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted 6-5 to appoint Margie Teall as mayor pro tem for the coming year. Dissenting were Kunselman, Anglin, Eaton, Kailasapathy, and Lumm.
7:22 p.m. After Hieftje and Teall, the order of succession first by seniority, then alphabetically would be: Mike Anglin, Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman, Jane Lumm, Sally (Hart) Petersen, Sumi Kailasapathy, Chuck Warpehoski and Jack Eaton.
7:24 p.m. 2014 Council committee appointments. Anglin is asking for a more open process where councilmembers can serve on the committees they want. He points out that the liquor committee’s responsibility has shifted. Hieftje has no problem with further discussion of the committee assignments. The inclination appears to be to postpone the committee appointments.
7:24 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to delay consideration of the council committee appointments until its first meeting in December – Dec. 2, 2013.
7:26 p.m. 2014 Council rules adoption. Taylor suggests that the item be delayed until the rules committee can have a chance to look at it. Briere notes that the rules had just recently been amended. She also notes that it would be the existing rules committee that would do the review. Warpehoski asks for a future amendment to Rule 8, swapping “personal attack” for “personality.”
7:29 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to delay action on the council rules until its first meeting in December.
7:30 p.m. City administrator communications. Powers reports that the impact of the previous day’s storms were relatively minimal, but 8 traffic signals had needed to be placed on generator power. They were then switched to four-way stops, and may be switched back to generators if power is not restored to them by the morning rush hour. Forestry crews removed 9 limbs from roadways. Other tree and limb issues are being prioritized and crews are working through the list, he says. Powers alerts the council to the two New Year’s items on the consent agenda. Powers gives a reminder of the trash and compost collection scheduling during Thanksgiving week.
7:30 p.m. Proclamations. One proclamation is on the agenda – honoring the 25th anniversary of the founding of Food Gatherers, a local nonprofit that collects and distributes food to those in need. The proclamation describes Food Gatherers as having provided millions of meals to hungry people in Washtenaw County. This last Saturday, bicycle-mounted participants in the Cranksgiving fundraiser collected almost a half ton of food for Food Gatherers.
7:31 p.m. The proclamation is being tracked down. Hieftje takes the council into recess while it’s located.
7:31 p.m. Recess. We’re in recess.
7:32 p.m. And we’re back.
7:35 p.m. The Food Gatherers proclamation gets a long standing ovation from the audience.
7:35 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.]
Four people are signed up to talk about the resolution sponsored by Sally Petersen (Ward 2) on standards of ethical and professional conduct: Jeanine Delay, Nancy Schewe, Erin Mattimoe and Joanna DeCamp. Three people are signed up to talk about the repeal of the city’s crosswalk ordinance: Kathy Griswold, Erica Briggs, Chris Hewett. One person and one alternate are signed up to talk about membership of Ypsilanti Township in the AAATA – Jim Mogensen and Emmanuel Jones (alternate).
Alan Haber is signed up to talk about the city of Ann Arbor’s participation in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Certificate Program. Thomas Partridge is signed up to talk about honoring the legacy of John F. Kennedy. A final alternate speaker is Henry Herskovitz, whose topic is “Blacklisting by Mastercard.”
7:39 p.m. Thomas Partridge introduces himself as a recent write-in candidate for Ward 5 city council, as well as a candidate for the state house and senate. He’s here to call for honoring the legacy of JFK on the 50th anniversary of his death. Partridge calls on the public to urge the council, the county board, the state legislature and the Congress to put forward Kennedy’s 1961 agenda. He calls for affordable housing, transportation and health care, as well as education.
7:43 p.m. Jeanine Delay offers her strong support for the ethics resolution that Petersen is sponsoring. Delay works with a group called A2 Ethics. She acknowledges Kunselman’s support of the resolution. There are many persistent misconceptions about local ethics, she says. One misconception is that upon election, an official will somehow magically recognize the various conflicts that might arise. The second misconception is that good character will ensure good ethical practice. “We’re all in this together, so we need a collective process,” she says. In passing this resolution, Ann Arbor would join other cities that have recognized the importance of ethics in civic life, she says.
7:46 p.m. Nancy Schewe of the local League of Women Voters also indicates support for the ethics resolution. Setting our own standards will allow us to reflect our own local values, she says. This resolution will help avoid problems before they come along. The standards should be known, codified and enforced, she says. She adds that this will shape a community of high ethical standards.
7:49 p.m. Kathy Griswold says she’s previously spoken in favor of a state crosswalk law. She asks four questions: How were Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition members hoodwinked into supporting an ordinance change instead of supporting pedestrian infrastructure? Why is lighting inadequate in many neighborhoods, especially at crosswalks? Why are councilmembers supporting a pedestrian safety task force to report back in February 2015? She says it’s a duplication of the efforts of the transportation safety committee. Why do we continue to ignore overgrown vegetation at intersections?
7:50 p.m. Erin Mattimoe introduces herself as a youth developer and a volunteer with A2 Ethics. Democracy depends on trust in elected officials, she says. That requires regular training and education, she says.
7:53 p.m. Erica Briggs is chair of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition. She supports the city’s current version of the ordinance. She says she’s delivering a petition signed by 587 people supporting the current ordinance. She is also delivering a letter signed by several organizations supporting the current ordinance. She calls the current ordinance a recognized best practice. She cites Traverse City as an example of a community where the Uniform Traffic Code is enforced so that motorists are supposed to stop for pedestrians who are standing at the curb.
7:55 p.m. Joanna DeCamp introduces herself as a volunteer with A2 Ethics. She’s supporting the resolution on ethics sponsored by Petersen (and also Kunselman). Trust in government is low at the national and state levels, she says. Comprehensive training and education will allow common expectations of behavior to be developed, she says. That will allow for constructive dialogues with conflicts arise.
7:59 p.m. Jim Mogensen speaks in favor of expansion of transit in the urban area. He calls it the continuation of a process that began over 40 years ago. He recounts the history of the changes that allowed the expansion to happen. In the mid-1970s after the city of Ann Arbor passed its millage, the AATA was expanded in a way that allowed the municipalities on the eastern side of the county to be included – through POSAs (purchase of service agreements). What those communities pay, he says, is the local match for federal funds. Ann Arbor Township is the only community no longer a part of that expansion, he says. Now, the AAATA has come up with a good plan to enhance service on the east side of the county.
8:02 p.m. Chris Hewett speaks for the neighborhood group Safety on Seventh. Whatever side of the vote councilmembers are on for the crosswalk ordinance, he says, it’s important to focus on the safety of pedestrians. He challenges councilmembers to leave their cars at home and experience what it’s like to experience the city as a pedestrian. He challenges the council to make people and neighborhoods their highest priority, not traffic flow and vehicle speeds.
8:05 p.m. Alan Haber says that making Ann Arbor a development-ready community seems OK on the surface. But he says it’s out of balance. Increasing the tax base is important, but there needs to be some focus on human development, he says. He refers to the ordinance change that would allow public parks to be used for the distribution of goods for human needs – and that’s the kind of human development he’s talking about. Haber speaks against development of the Library Lot.
8:05 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.
8:07 p.m. Briere announces a meeting on Argo parking at Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.
8:07 p.m. Kunselman notes that some streetlights he’d complained about being out on Packard were now on – near Mary Beth Doyle park. Kunselman says that there’s no moratorium on streetlights, saying that there was only a budget resolution in the past, which he didn’t consider a moratorium.
8:08 p.m. Petersen thanks AAPD for showing up on Devonshire last night, to help with storm damage. She thanks staff for installing etiquette signs in the parks. Petersen also plugs a survey that she’s running.
8:09 p.m. Eaton thanks staff for their efforts during his two-day orientation as a new councilmember.
8:11 p.m. Teall announces that the Michigan Theater board will be meeting to explore ways to keep the State Theater open. She reports that the last partnerships committee meeting of the DDA was very productive. They’d had a great conversation about how to attract young people into the civic process.
8:12 p.m. Anglin thanks the people who’ve worked on Safety on Seventh. The area needs a lot of attention because vehicles go really fast through that area, he says. When you live on a busy street, you don’t give up your rights as a citizen, he says. People who live on active streets are a part of the community. He contends that speeders are in fact people who live here. There will be a meeting at Slauson Middle School, with the date and time to be determined, he says.
8:14 p.m. Kailasapathy says that when the discussion of adding police officers comes up, people always say that Part 1 crimes are down. There are other quality-of-life type issues that would be helped with more enforcement, she says.
8:16 p.m. Warpehoski reports on a WeROC (Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition) gathering he’d attended. That group is working on a “ban the box” in hiring processes. The phrase refers to removing the “felony box” from job applications, and eliminating background checks for all jobs except those deemed sensitive. He’s going to be talking to city staff and the city human rights commission about it. Hieftje says there was work done on this previously, in partnership with Washtenaw County.
8:16 p.m. Appointments. Nominations made on Nov. 7, which the council will be asked to confirm tonight, include Peter Greenfield to the airport advisory council replacing Wilson Tanner, and Anthony Ramirez to be reappointed to the cable communications commission. On the housing and human services advisory 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 reappointment to the city’s human rights commission.
8:17 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to confirm all the nominations made at the Nov. 7 meeting.
8:18 p.m. Nominations. David Blanchard was nominated for reappointment to the city’s housing and human services advisory board. That confirmation vote will come at the next council meeting.
8:18 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 for tonight both on ordinance changes. One is on an alteration to the park user fee, which could be waived for use of a park to distribute goods in support of basic human needs. [For background, see Familiar Business: Public Park Use Fee Waiver above.] The other is on a revision to the ordinance that regulates how the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority tax increment finance capture is implemented. [For background, see Familiar Business: DDA TIF, Governance above.]
8:24 p.m. PH-1 Park use fee waiver. Thomas Partridge is addressing the council about the use of parks for people to gather. He says issues of free speech are being ignored in the ordinance change, so he wants the change delayed for further review. Seth Best asks everyone to stand who supports the ordinance change. There are estimated 70 people standing in chambers in response. He reads off a list of people who he wants to thank. Dan Ream, pastor at St. Mary’s student parish, supports the ordinance change. He recounts the parable of the good Samaritan.
8:28 p.m. Rev. Lindsay Conrad of First Presbyterian Church supports the ordinance change. Jim Osborne urges passage of the resolution. He’s organized a group to distribute food at West Park and he’s found the city’s fees and process to be a burden.
8:34 p.m. Lily Au says that the Delonis Center homeless shelter in Ann Arbor has not increased its capacity. She asks the council to help poor people. Brian B. argues for the ordinance change. Odile Hugot Haber speaks in support of the ordinance change. Alan Haber also rises to speak in favor of the ordinance change. It’s obvious that a church should be able to distribute free food in a park, he says. There’s an economy of love, he says: making available what we have with each other.
8:39 p.m. Michael Brinkman introduces himself as a resident next to Wheeler Park. Severe weather in the Philippines and in the Midwest had resulted in new homeless people, he said. He asks the council to support the microcosm of that larger context. Three more people round out the public hearing, all in support of the ordinance change.
8:42 p.m. PH-2 DDA ordinance. Thomas Partridge is talking about how he went to Washington D.C. to study law and to work for senators McNamara and Hart. He calls the ordinance a furtherance of corruption and discrimination. The entire DDA ordinance should be repealed and substituted, he says. The DDA needs enough revenue to give equal opportunity to every commercial area of the city.
8:46 p.m. Maura Thomson, president of the Main Street Area Association, which represents 175 businesses. She supports the ordinance. Councilmembers had wanted clarity, she said. The ordinance would not have negative impact on the work the DDA is doing now and could do in the future. She calls out the idea of downtown interests “versus” the rest of the city. She says the downtown belongs to everyone. The downtown has a social, economic, and cultural purpose. Looking at the interests of the downtown and the rest of the city as separate is not a productive way to think about it, she says.
Tom Heywood calls the solution that has been crafted a win-win. It allows the DDA to continue its work while returning millions of dollars to the brother and sister jurisdictions over several years, he says.
8:47 p.m. Jim Osborne asks for stricter council oversight of the DDA. Instead of begging the DDA money to give money back, the council should control the DDA, he says.
8:54 p.m. Sandi Smith, current chair of the DDA, is reading forth a prepared statement. She appeals to the idea of “a rising tide lifts all boats.” The premise of the ordinance change was to achieve clarity, she says. Smith is complaining about the cap. She describes the proposed ordinance as cutting the DDA’s bonding capacity in half.
Lou Glorie is now at the podium countering Smith. She says the ordinance change re-establishes some equity between the DDA and the other taxing authorities. Omari Rush, education manager at the University Musical Society, describes the role of downtowns in cities and how much he enjoys Ann Arbor’s downtown. He appreciates what’s been done to make Ann Arbor’s downtown clean, safe and vibrant.
8:56 p.m. Dug Song recalls that the last time he attended a council meeting, he was lobbying for a skatepark – now that’s being built. He’s expressing general support for the DDA. He recalls how Arbor Networks grew from five people to 300 people, but most of those jobs were in Boston, because there’s not adequate space in downtown Ann Arbor. He supports the love economy, but also supports small companies that are two people and some laptops that grow into something larger.
8:58 p.m. Peter Baker introduces himself as a resident of Water Hill and employee of DuoSecurity. He chose Ann Arbor because of the interplay between downtown and neighborhoods. His comments wrap up this public hearing.
8:58 p.m. Minutes. Outcome: The council has approved the previous meeting’s minutes.
8:59 p.m. Consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda includes the following:
- CA-1 Approve street closings for The Puck Drops Here on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. [For more background, see above New Year's Events: Puck Drop]
- CA-2 Authorize special event provisions and street closings for the NHL Winter Classic Hockey Game on Jan. 1 or 2, 2013. [For more background, see above New Year's Events: NHL Winter Classic]
- CA-3 Approve the sale of Avalon Housing Inc.’s property at 618 N. Main to Dawn Farm.
- CA-4 Authorize city of Ann Arbor participation in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification Program.
- CA-5 Authorize a sole source purchase order to Jack Doheny Companies Inc. for parts and service for field operation utilities unit equipment. ($50,000 annually)
- CA-6 Authorize contract with Watertap Inc. for watermain line stops and insertable valves and related services. ($75,000 annually)
- CA-7 Accept Board of Insurance Administration minutes of Oct. 24, 2013.
- CA-8 Approve amended bylaws of the public market advisory commission.
9:00 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Selected out by Briere are CA-3 (sale of Avalon property) and CA-4 (the redevelopment ready communities resolution).
9:05 p.m. CA-3 Approve the sale of Avalon Housing Inc.’s property at 618 N. Main to Dawn Farm. Briere gives the background and how it has been recommended by the housing and humans services advisory board.
9:05 p.m. CA-4 Authorize city of Ann Arbor participation in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification Program. Briere invites planning manager Wendy Rampson to the podium to explain what the program is about. Rampson describes how the program does allow help in marketing specific sites, but that’s not necessarily what the program is about. City administrator Steve Powers explains that the marketing of any sites is not limited to city-owned parcels. The program could also help identify privately-owned parcels that need some attention, he says, citing the research park in the southern part of town. Rampson also points out that participation in the program could make the city eligible for various grants. Eaton asks if there are any implications for not fulfilling the conditions in the MOU. Rampson indicates the city would be kicked out of the program.
9:07 p.m. Petersen says she wants to speak strongly in favor of the program.
9:07 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve all the items on the consent agenda.
9:07 p.m. Recess. We’re in recess.
9:18 p.m. And we’re back.
9:19 p.m. Opening the agenda. Ypsilanti Township clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe is here and has a constrained schedule, so DC-1 (Ypsilanti Township membership in AAATA) is moved up to now.
9:20 p.m. DC-1 Ypsilanti Township membership in AAATA. The council is being asked to approve the addition of Ypsilanti Township in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. This item was postponed from the council’s Oct. 21, 2013 meeting. [For some additional background, see Delayed Business: Transportation – AAATA above. For even more background, see "Council Agenda: Transportation Governance"]
9:24 p.m. Kunselman says he attended some of the AAATA meetings that were held over the last month and he did not hear anyone say they were opposed to Ypsilanti Township joining the authority. He urges the council to vote unanimously to support Ypsilanti Township as a member.
Eaton says that he strongly supports expanding transportation in the urban core. But he says that the plan to ask for a millage will result in an inequitable funding arrangement. He ticks through the amount of millage each community would pay. He wants a uniform total millage across all communities. Teall counters that the amount of service in Ann Arbor is much higher, and that it’s natural that the amount contributed by Ann Arbor would be greater.
9:25 p.m. Teall asks Michael Ford, CEO of the AAATA, to the podium. Ford says that 84% of the AAATA’s service is provided in Ann Arbor. He stresses that the question before the council tonight is membership in the AAATA.
9:28 p.m. Lumm wants to know what will happen if the millage doesn’t pass: Would Ypsilanti Township convert their general fund allocation to a transit millage? Ford isn’t going to speak for the township. Karen Lovejoy Roe takes the podium. She thanks the council for moving up the item on the agenda. She says that Ypsilanti Township has had some sort of POSA for several years, and as a member of the AAATA, the township would be willing to make a longer-term commitment. She’s excited about having transit that connects the west and east sides of the county.
9:32 p.m. Lumm asks if Ypsilanti Township would convert the general fund funding to a millage, if the AAATA millage didn’t pass. Lovejoy Roe says that right now, the township would lock in the current POSA agreement in perpetuity – but that wouldn’t necessarily result in the township itself asking for a millage of its residents. Lumm says it’s not been clarified what the standards are for being admitted as a member of the AAATA. She’s implicitly setting this as a standard: If the community itself has a millage. Lovejoy Roe asks what difference it would make, if the township board is entering into a legally binding agreement to pay the cash.
9:34 p.m. Lumm asks Ford what the standards are for admitting a municipality as a member. Ford refers to the council’s resolution for exploring conversations with the urban core communities, a community’s ability to pay, where population density is, and other factors.
9:37 p.m. Lumm reports that she attended one of the meetings, and there were questions asked about routes in Ward 2. She says it’s not clear whether it’s a “sales tour” or a “listening tour” that took place. In the “marketing materials,” she says, there’s an indication that the improvements will require a 0.7 mill tax. Ford stresses that the board has not made a decision to place a millage on the ballot. The point of the meetings was to hear input and make adjustments and refine the plan. “We are listening to people. … That’s what we do!” he says. Lumm complains there is not enough service improvement in Ward 2.
9:39 p.m. Kailasapathy thanks Ford for providing the MOU between AAATA and Ypsilanti Township. She contends the goal of long-term planning is undercut by the monthly invoicing in the MOU. Ford says that’s just an operational issue – and stresses that it’s in draft form. That simply operationalizes the exchange of money. Kailasapathy asks if the planning would take place on an annual basis. Ford indicated that planning is a continuous process, quarterly and annual. Planning is in the AAATA’s DNA, Ford says – “that’s what we do.”
9:42 p.m. Taylor says to him, it’s a simple question of whether it’s good for Ypsi Township to be a member. Leaving aside the “soul-sucking micromanagement” of the AAATA, Taylor says the answer to the question is yes. He says Eaton’s worry about the amount of support there would be for a millage is a fair point. And Taylor says that this idea will be put into the marketplace (of voters). It’s natural that Ann Arbor will receive most of the service, he says, as it’s the economic engine of the region.
9:44 p.m. Petersen recalls a remark from township supervisor Brenda Stumbo – that you can’t get from the city of Ypsilanti to the city of Ann Arbor without going through Ypsilanti Township. If the buses will go through the township anyway, it makes sense that the township has a voice on the board, she says. She’s less concerned about the funding, saying she gives Ypsi Township the benefit of any doubt that they’ll continue to pay the POSA.
9:47 p.m. Warpehoski asks Ford to review the city of Ann Arbor’s increase in service over the five-year period. Ford says over the five-year period it would increase 33%. Warpehoski concludes that’s about commensurate with the percentage that an additional 0.7 mill tax would mean. Warpehoski invites Lovejoy Roe to confirm that Ypsilanti Township would not have the demand for the same level of service of Ann Arbor – which is to have a bus stop within 1/4 mile of every household. She confirms that such demand doesn’t exist at this point.
9:49 p.m. Warpehoski concludes that he doesn’t think it would make sense to define equity by equal total millages and let the variance follow from differences in property values. He confirms with Ford that the costs per service hour charged for POSAs include all the overhead costs.
9:53 p.m. Briere asks why Pittsfield Township isn’t joining. Ford says Pittsfield is leaning toward a longer-term POSA, so that they wouldn’t participate in an AAATA millage. He doesn’t want to speak for Pittsfield. Briere says Ypsilanti Township has been asked to take a leap of faith. And the township is making a significant financial commitment, she says. Briere is relating vignettes from her own experience. She hopes that the council will support this resolution.
9:54 p.m. Anglin says that the council had decided it wanted to focus not across the county but more locally, and that’s what the AAATA had done. He’s going to support the resolution.
10:00 p.m. Eaton asks Ford if there is a standard for adding members to the AAATA. Ford says the council in part defined that for the AAATA with its urban core resolution from late 2012. There are other factors – geographical considerations, where people live, where trips are generated, as well as willingness to pay. Back and forth ensues between Eaton and Ford about standards for admission into AAATA. Eaton wants to know if Ypsilanti Township is willing to pay for improvements without an AAATA millage, if the AAATA would provide additional service. Eaton points out that a neighborhood in Ann Arbor can’t choose a reduced level of service. Ford finally says: “What is your question?” Eaton’s point is that the financial burden is not equal across neighborhoods within the city: In some parts of the city, there is less transportation service.
10:02 p.m. Lovejoy Roe says that this approach will lock in at least this current level of service for Ypsilanti Township. She points out that Ypsilanti Township will have only one vote on the board.
10:05 p.m. Lumm has come back to the idea of criteria for admission into the AAATA. She doesn’t think there’s a rigorous enough standard for admission. Lumm says she wants Ford to come to the podium again. She says that the riders-per-service-hour goal of the AAATA is 25 passengers, but complains that the commuter express service has less than that. Ford notes that the commuter express service no longer uses any local Ann Arbor millage dollars.
10:12 p.m. Briere asks if there are any buses that are completely internal to Ypsilanti Township. No, says Ford. She asks if there are any routes specific to some ward. No, says Ford.
Petersen wants to put an economic value on the benefit of a worker from Ypsilanti riding the bus to Ann Arbor. Hieftje advises that Lumm is considered to have spoken twice. Kunselman argues against “intellectualizing” the issue and wants a unanimous vote. He stresses that Ypsilanti Township will have just one vote on the AAATA board. He’d been a vocal opponent of the countywide transit effort out of concern that that proposal would have yielded majority control. [Ann Arbor would have had 7 of 15 board seats under that countywide proposal.] As far as the standards for admission, the standard is clear, says Kunselman: Ypsilanti Township is the second largest community in the county and this is about “mass transit.”
10:14 p.m. Kunselman wants a majority vote by the council to send a clear message of support. Hieftje is now expressing support for the various standard reasons, citing the benefits of public transportation.
10:16 p.m. Hieftje is still talking about the virtues of public transportation. Hieftje says if there’s a millage on the ballot put forward by AAATA, then he’ll support it. He hopes for a unanimous vote on welcoming a new member into the AAATA.
10:16 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to approve the amended articles of incorporation so that Ypsilanti Township is now a member of the AAATA. The vote drew applause.
10:17 p.m. B-1 Amend parks ordinance to provide for exemptions to the fee requirement for group activities in parks. This ordinance change is in front of the council for final approval tonight, having been given initial approval on Nov. 7. It would allow for a waiver of fees when an organization uses a park to distribute goods for basic human needs. The ordinance would be revised to include the following text: “There shall be no park rental fee charged in association with a permit, where the permitted event’s primary proposed activity is the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs.” [For more background see Familiar Business: Public Park Use Fee Waiver above.]
10:20 p.m. Eaton offers a “friendly” amendment to add “and/or services” in addition to “goods.” Taylor says that this distinction between goods and services was material to PAC’s review of the proposal. Adding services would expand what was contemplated, Taylor says. Taylor recites the history of the issue.
10:21 p.m. PAC “interrogated” the proposal thoroughly, Taylor says. Teall thanks the members of Camp Take Notice and everyone who’d met with her. She said it was enjoyable to be able to respond to a request like this.
10:25 p.m. Warpehoski says that the solution was very “elegant.” It’s simple, he says. Anglin praises Camp Take Notice members for being very good at political action. It was hard to deny their humanitarian message, he said. Petersen offers her thanks. Lumm says Camp Take Notice members “know how to catch bees with honey.”
10:25 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to approve the possible park fee waiver. The vote gets applause.
10:25 p.m. B-2 DDA ordinance. In front of the council tonight is final approval of a change to the ordinance (Chapter 7) regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance capture and its board governance. Initial approval of this version of the change was given at the council’s Nov. 7 meeting. A previous version was tabled.
Key features of this version before the council tonight are 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. It would mean an estimated return of $300,000 total to the other taxing jurisdictions that year. This version would impose a limit of three four-year terms for board membership, with additional terms possible only after a four-year lapse. The DDA would be required to budget $300,000 each year for affordable housing projects, with “affordable” defined as targeting residents with 50% area median income (AMI). [For additional background, see Familiar Business: DDA TIF, Governance above.]
10:26 p.m. Kunselman says he was really pleased that there was support for this, based on the public hearing commentary. The discussion had lasted for many months, he says. He wants to adopt this without any amendments.
10:29 p.m. Briere says she’s just sent a proposed amendment to the ordinance change. It’s the result of a housing and human services advisory board (HHSAB) resolution, she says. She’s reading aloud the amendment. It clarifies that the first year of the $300,000 allocations to affordable housing is tax year 2016. Thereafter the DDA has to increase the allocation by the same amount that the cap escalates. Kunselman is fine with this, if this is not a big enough change that it would reset the proposal to a first reading in front of the council.
10:30 p.m. Briere is conferring with city attorney Stephen Postema and assistant city attorney Mary Fales. Postema: “It’s fine.” Kunselman says he’s touched base with David Blanchard, chair of HHSAB, and Kunselman thinks it’s probably not an amendment that’s necessary, but he doesn’t have a problem with it. He accepts it as a friendly amendment.
10:34 p.m. Teall is worried that the DDA would not be able to continue funding the nonprofit Dawn Farm, which does not have a 50% AMI requirement. Executive director Susan Pollay says that she understands the ordinance language to mean that additional dollars, beyond the $300,000, could be allocated for Dawn Farm.
10:39 p.m. Lumm says she attended both the partnerships committee meeting as well as the HHSAB meeting. The two conversations were schizophrenic, she says. The DDA had wanted more flexibility, she says. DDA board chair Sandi Smith responds, saying there was not a pushback on the $300,000 from the DDA. It was the 50% AMI standard that was problematic, she says.
Lumm asks for explanation about the DDA’s policy to invest in areas outside the DDA district that had a positive impact on the district. The standard is within 1/4 mile of the district, Pollay says. Smith ventures that “downtown area” would be consistent with the DDA’s policy on investing in housing projects within 1/4 mile of the district. Briere is at the podium showing Smith her iPad with the text of the amendment.
10:42 p.m. Hieftje says he has a concern about the city’s budget. He thinks there are going to be millions of dollars of investment in the Ann Arbor housing commission required. So he wants the “downtown area” to stretch as far as Miller Manor, which is an AAHC property. Lumm wants to add “near downtown area.” Kunselman wants to make sure that this will not reset the ordinance to the first reading. Fales confirms it would not, because it’s consistent with the DDA renewal plan.
10:45 p.m. Briere gets confirmation from Smith that the DDA’s definition of “near downtown area” means within 1/4 mile of the district boundary. Pollay and Briere aren’t sure if Miller Manor is within 1/4 miles of the district. [It is.] Taylor wants confirmation that Miller Manor meets the 50% AMI criterion.
10:47 p.m. Lumm is reciting the reason she’s supportive of the ordinance. It’ll mean a 55% growth in TIF for the DDA over the next three years. She thinks it would have been better to impose the cap sooner so that sharing with the other jurisdictions would have began sooner. [Lumm's voice is failing her – she sounds under the weather.]
10:48 p.m. Warpehoski says he’s violating council rules to share the amendments with the media.
10:49 p.m. Eaton says he would have preferred a lower cap and a shorter term limit, but applauds the effort of the committee. Taylor says he won’t support it. The DDA has proven itself as a reliable steward of taxpayer funding. He recites familiar arguments in support of the DDA.
10:53 p.m. Taylor says that it’s not a compromise, but rather a power play. He contends that people had been told that if they organized and spoke against it, “there would be trouble.” Taylor is visibly angry.
10:56 p.m. Kailasapathy isn’t happy with this, but will support it.
10:56 p.m. [.pdf of Briere amendment]
10:58 p.m. Teall won’t support this. Hieftje is reciting standard arguments and history of the DDA and its impact. Hieftje says it’s a compromise, disagreeing with Taylor. Hieftje wants to “get this behind us” and let the DDA get back to work.
10:59 p.m. Teall says it went way beyond clarifying language. She says Taylor was calling it like it is.
10:59 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the ordinance change, with dissent from Taylor and Teall.
10:59 p.m. C-1 Rezoning of Higgins property. The council is being asked to give initial approval to a standard rezoning request associated with annexation into the city. It would rezone 0.51 acres from TWP (township district) to R1A (single-family dwelling district) at 2121 Victoria Circle.
11:00 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give initial approval to the rezoning of the Higgins property.
11:00 p.m. C-2 Rezoning of Weller property. The council is being asked to give initial approval to a rezoning associated with annexation into the city. It would rezone 0.51 acres from TWP (township district) to R1A (single-family dwelling district) at 2119 Victoria Circle.
11:00 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give initial approval of the rezoning of the Weller property.
11:00 p.m. C-3 Rezoning of 3325 Packard. This is not a standard rezoning request. The council is being asked to give initial approval of a request that would rezone 0.27 acres from R1C (single-family zoning district) to R2A (two-family zoning district) at 3325 Packard Road. This would allow the construction of a duplex on the now-vacant property. The owner contends that constructing a duplex is economically viable but a single-family home is not. The planning commission recommended denial of the rezoning request at its Aug. 7, 2013 meeting.
11:02 p.m. Briere is reviewing the planning commission’s reasoning in recommending against the rezoning.
11:05 p.m. Lumm asks for planning manager Wendy Rampson to come to the podium to comment. The planning commission had struggled because it’s a vacant lot, Rampson says. In addition, it’s a corner lot. It’s an established single-family neighborhood, she notes, and the planning commission is always hesitant to approve a spot zoning. The owner hasn’t been able to garner support from an entire blockface of owners who would join in a request.
11:06 p.m. Kunselman praises the planning commission for following the master plan. He talks about the difficulty of redeveloping vacant lots in the eastern part of the city. Hieftje says that he understands the planning commission’s decision.
11:07 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to reject initial approval of the Packard Road rezoning request.
11:07 p.m. C-4 Repeal of crosswalk law. This is the initial consideration of a change to the ordinance on non-signalized crosswalks. The city’s ordinance differs from the state’s 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 explicitly to take action to accommodate pedestrians standing at the curb at a crosswalk, not just those pedestrians who have already entered the crosswalk.
The proposal the council is considering would change the law so that slowing (not necessarily stopping) would be a legal way to yield to pedestrians within crosswalks. The ordinance would be further changed so that only pedestrians within crosswalks (not necessarily those standing at the curb) would need to be accommodated by motorists.
11:08 p.m. Briere ventures that there was a time when there were no questions at first readings of ordinance changes. That time has passed, she says. She wants to know if traffic engineers participate in approving ordinance language.
11:12 p.m. Powers says no, that’s the council’s job. Traffic engineers provide input into the language, but an ordinance doesn’t require traffic engineer approval, Powers says. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy confirms for Briere that a traffic engineer would evaluate how the policy choices would be applied. Hupy says that if the ordinance is repealed, signage would have to be changed from “stop” to “yield.” Cost of that would be $14,000, Hupy estimates.
11:16 p.m. Briere is asking for data on accidents before the council’s previous ordinance change and after that change. Hupy says that some of the data can be shown by hour of the day.
11:19 p.m. Petersen says it’s been a very emotional topic for her. She and Kailasapathy had met with WBWC representatives to learn about the impetus for the previous change back in 2010 and 2011. Petersen says that the approach of “increasing pedestrian rights” just hasn’t worked. From 2009 to 2012 pedestrian crashes rose 42%. For a five-year period prior to that, there was a decrease. She contends that while you can’t say the change to the ordinance caused the increase, you could say that safety did not increase.
11:20 p.m. It’s too dangerous to tell pedestrians that “they rule,” Petersen says.
11:22 p.m. Kailasapathy says in addition to repealing the ordinance, more is needed. Infrastructure improvements are also important, including more HAWK lights, she says. The focus should be on safety, not on rights, she says.
11:24 p.m. Lumm says that she, Petersen and Kailasapathy had begun working with staff several weeks ago. She thanks staff. She says that Ann Arbor’s ordinance is unique and this would return our local law to conform with the UTC. She contends that the local ordinance is not consistent with our local signage. She says “pedestrians rule” is a mindset that is dangerous.
11:26 p.m. Warpehoski has questions for staff. He asks Hupy about the RFB and HAWK implementations and why a regular stoplight isn’t simply installed. Hupy says that a traffic signal has to meet a “warrant” – a standard that would allow it to be installed. He can’t say that the mid-block locations would or wouldn’t meet that standard.
11:30 p.m. Warpehoski asks AAPD chief John Seto if he thinks that changing the ordinance will affect pedestrian safety in Ann Arbor. Seto says that he can’t say. Warpehoski gives examples of enforcement techniques used in Florida, using plainclothes policeman, cone placement, etc. He asks Seto if that type of enforcement action would be possible, if the ordinance were changed. Seto says that would be challenging, because the pedestrian would need to be in the roadway. Warpehoski says the technique for enforcement was in fact to have the pedestrian step into the roadway. It could be done, Seto says, setting aside staffing constraints.
11:32 p.m. Warpehoski gets clarification that under the UTC if there’s enough time for a motorist to stop, then it’s legal for a pedestrian to step into the roadway.
11:33 p.m. Assistant city attorney Bob West confirms Warpehoski’s understanding. Warpehoski wants to know what the responsibility is for motorists in multi-lane situations. West says vehicles traveling in the same direction of travel have the same responsibility.
11:34 p.m. West says the intent is not to make pedestrians say, “I can make these guys stop.” Pedestrians have more to lose, West says.
11:36 p.m. Warpehoski asks Seto and West how confident they’d been in making citations and making them stick. They’re comfortable.
11:41 p.m. Kunselman picks up on Lumm’s idea that Ann Arbor’s ordinance is unique. He’s asked for other examples. He says pedestrian advocates in Ann Arbor contend that Traverse City interprets the UTC to mean that “within a crosswalk” includes the curb. But Kunselman says the vehicle code defines the crosswalk is measured between the curbs. He says that by doing something different, it’s causing confusion. How could Traverse City possibly be giving the UTC the claimed interpretation? asks Kunselman. Seto doesn’t know. Seto said the Traverse City police chief’s response to his question was to provide the ordinance language. Kunselman wants to know if the UTC can be enforced as meaning “at the curb” – the same intent that’s explicit in the ordinance. West doesn’t think so.
11:43 p.m. Hieftje encourages councilmembers to wrap up this item by pointing out that there’s a lot of items left and this is just the first reading. Anglin invites councilmembers to ask themselves how often they’ve come close to hitting a pedestrian.
11:44 p.m. Taylor notes the asymmetry between the claim that the ordinance is so powerful that it causes pedestrians to step in front of cars, yet is not powerful enough to compel a motorist to do what they should do in any case: Yield to pedestrians at a curb at a crosswalk.
11:45 p.m. Taylor also notes the increases in pedestrian accidents in other cities, which had nothing to do with Ann Arbor’s ordinance.
11:46 p.m. Hieftje echoes Taylor’s sentiments and says he also won’t support this, even on first reading.
11:47 p.m. Lumm reads aloud a message she’s received from a resident who complains that they have had to slam on their brakes for pedestrians who are crossing against the light. [The ordinance in question actually applies to non-signalized crosswalks.]
11:50 p.m. Kunselman says that it’s more important to install HAWK and RFBs. He also wants to add FTEs to the police department so there can be more traffic enforcement. AAPD is dramatically down and can’t enforce basic traffic law, he says. He questions why the law should be different in Ann Arbor.
11:52 p.m. Petersen says she wants to share a voicemail relating an anecdote that demonstrates support for her point of view.
11:55 p.m. Teall weighs in in favor of the existing ordinance.
11:58 p.m. Warpehoski points out that if the car can stop or yield, then the UTC says that a pedestrian can step into the crosswalk. Warpehoski refutes Kunselman’s contention that Ann Arbor is unique, by citing Boulder’s ordinance, with includes “approaching” not just “within” a crosswalk. He also cites Seattle’s definition of crosswalk, which extends to the farthest sidewalk line, which would include the curb.
12:00 a.m. Warpehoski confronts Kunselman’s characterization of the existing ordinance as a “pedestrian convenience” ordinance by reflecting on the recommendations in the FHA guide.
12:02 a.m. Warpehoski says he’ll vote for it on first reading, and will ask for postponement at second reading until after the pedestrian task force [yet to be established] can make a recommendation.
12:02 a.m. Eaton says he’ll vote for it at first reading. He thinks the correct forum for this kind of revision is the state legislature.
12:03 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted 8-3 to give initial approval to the repeal of the crosswalk law. Dissent came from Taylor, Teall and Hieftje.
12:04 a.m. Recess. We’re now in recess.
12:18 a.m. We’re back.
12:18 a.m. DC-2 Ethics: Professional standards of conduct. This resolution, sponsored by Sally Petersen (Ward 2), would direct an educational effort for local officials on conflict-of-interest and ethics issues. It was postponed from Nov. 7 when Petersen herself moved immediately to postpone consideration of the resolution, due to the very heavy agenda that night.
The resolution directs an educational effort on Public Act 317 of 1968, which is the state’s conflict-of-interest statute. It also directs the council’s rules committee to adapt Public Act 196 of 1973 to define standards for councilmember conduct.
12:20 a.m. Hieftje jokes that everyone should agree to this and just vote. Petersen thanks A2 Ethics for their work. She says the resolution is not really about an ethics policy. This is a first step in the conversation. Issues of conflict of interest are “top of mind” for the community, she says. She wants everyone to be on an even playing field, and that’s why there’s an educational effort.
12:21 a.m. Petersen responds to the question of what the problem is – she says there doesn’t need to be a problem that needs solving in order to start towards working along these lines.
12:23 a.m. Briere says she was the one who’d asked what the problem was to be solved. Briere says there’s a “perception” that there might be conflict of interest and there could be a need to address that. She is not comfortable with trying to apply Act 196 because it doesn’t get at the issue of undue influence.
12:25 a.m. Eaton says he’s an enthusiastic supporter of exploring this issue. He thinks that standards should be established so that councilmembers have a clear measure by which to guide their conduct. He’s also, like Briere, concerned about inclusion of Act 196 because it deals with premature disclosure of information.
12:26 a.m. Warpehoski says he wants to amend the resolution by naming the sections of Act 196 as an example of a resource that can be drawn upon, among others. That’s considered friendly by Petersen. [.pdf of Warpehoski's ethics amendments]
12:30 a.m. Teall says she thinks it’s a good idea, but has concerns about the practical implementation. She wonders how much burden that will be on the city attorney’s staff. City attorney Stephen Postema says it’s just another assignment. Lumm is indicating support for the resolution. It’s important that people have confidence in their elected officials.
12:31 a.m. Kunselman thanks Petersen for her work. He asks if anyone wants to trade positions with him on the rules committee – as he’s currently on that committee. It’s all about learning, he says.
12:31 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to approve the ethics resolution.
12:31 a.m. DC-3 Pedestrian safety task force. The substitute version of the resolution that was brought forward would establish a 9-member task force that would deliver a report by February 2015. 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.”
This item was postponed from the council’s Nov. 7, 2013 meeting amid concerns about the required budget to provide staff support. So the substitute resolution in part addresses the concern about budget by adding some items to the proposed group’s tasks, including addressing sidewalk gaps and creating a tool for setting priorities for funding and filling those gaps. That would conceivably allow the group to tap some of the $75,000 the council allocated this spring in a FY 2014 budget amendment for the prioritization of sidewalks gaps to be eliminated. The timeframe for membership application has shifted in the possible substitute resolution to Dec. 2, with the appointments to be made at the Dec. 16 council meeting. [.pdf of substitute pedestrian task force resolution]
12:36 a.m. Briere is introducing the resolution. The problem is engineering, enforcement and education, she says. It’s going to cost time, energy and budgetary wherewithal, she says. Drivers will resent getting a ticket, she says. She’s relating her views about bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians. She talks about meetings she’s had with UM officials and DDA officials. Briere says that this issue is also about sidewalk gaps. So sidewalk gaps have been added to the mission of the task force, she says. She wants the council to move forward on this.
12:41 a.m. Eaton says he won’t support it because this task should be taken up by an existing body – the Ann Arbor Public Schools transportation committee.
Kunselman says he supports pedestrian safety. He’s talking about the fact that there are no jaywalking laws. He says that it’s also legal to ride a bike on a sidewalk, which he does because he feels safer there. “Cars are bigger than I am. Cars can kill me.” He says that maybe pedestrians have been pampered by the city making them think that cars will stop just by standing by the side of the road. He wants people to understand that it’s dangerous out there, and to have a sense of risk. He wants the task force to focus on that aspect of education – understanding the sense of risk. He’s supporting the task force. Teall tells Kunselman that it’s not true that he’s safer riding on the sidewalk.
12:42 a.m. Anglin seems to be echoing Eaton’s point about having the transportation safety committee handle the task. He wants there to be a broader conversation with the schools and the University of Michigan.
12:45 a.m. Warpehoski responds to Anglin’s idea that the task force should cast a wide net by pointing out how the resolution names the various interested groups. He notes that the AAPS transportation safety committee does not have UM representation. He says that he’s become something of an evangelist for the FHA manual on how to develop a pedestrian safety strategy. He ticks through some examples from the manual. It’s an opportunity to step back from the controversy of the crosswalk ordinance, he says.
12:51 a.m. Warpehoski proposes an amendment that the pedestrian task force make its recommendation for an ordinance change by the first meeting in October 2014. His plan is to put off the final vote on the crosswalk ordinance until after that. He says if councilmembers won’t support putting off the ordinance change, they shouldn’t vote for this amendment. Outcome: The amendment fails, getting support only from Warpehoski, Briere, Taylor, Teall, and Hieftje.
12:53 a.m. Kunselman says he wonders how the city will be working with UM, if the city’s crosswalk ordinance language is different from the university’s rule. Briere says that as long as Kunselman has announced how he’s going to vote on rescinding the ordinance and assuming everyone else on the council does the same, the city’s ordinance would be reverting to the UTC, which has the same language as the UM rule.
12:58 a.m. Lumm ask if the sponsors would be willing to put this off until some additional questions can be answered. She doesn’t disagree with the underlying premise. Briere asks Hupy to the podium to respond to Lumm’s concern about what the staff’s plan would be. Hupy says that staff has not figured out completely how to move this resolution along with the sidewalk gap process. Briere wants to know how long it would take to pull together that information. Middle of December, says Hupy. Briere asks if that’s a conflict with the appointment schedule of the task force. Hupy says that’s up to the council.
1:06 a.m. Briere says she is struggling to find a rational reason to postpone this. She doesn’t want to put this on the back burner for another construction season. Hupy says he’s not sure that a postponement would have a dramatic negative impact. Briere cites the numerous emails that she’s received from people who don’t realize the city has a program for addressing sidewalk issues. Briere apologizes for making Hupy sit through a speech from her.
Christopher Taylor states: “For reasons articulated by councilmember Briere, I support the resolution.” Warpehoski quizzes Hupy about staff impact.
1:09 a.m. Kunselman says he’ll be looking at installing a flashing beacon at Easy Street and Packard Road. He wonders if at budget time next year he’ll be told he has to wait for the task force recommendation. Hupy says that at this hour he’s “brain dead enough” that he’s not sure, but he thinks that intersection is already under that consideration. Kunselman says he remembers the rubber hoses being out in the street doing traffic counts.
Petersen wants to make sure there’s no moratorium on pedestrian infrastructure. Hupy assures her that won’t be the case.
1:10 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to adopt the resolution establishing a pedestrian safety task force.
1:10 a.m. DC-4 Sale of former Y lot. The council is being presented with an agreement to sell the former Y lot – a city-owned property north of William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues in downtown Ann Arbor – to Dennis Dahlmann. Owner of the Campus Inn and the Bell Tower Hotel downtown, Dahlmann offered $5.25 million for the property. It had been listed at $4.2 million. The city purchased the property for $3.5 million 10 years ago and has been making interest-only payments on the property for that time. A balloon payment is due at the end of this year. [.pdf of Dahlmann offer 10.17.13] [For additional background, see Familiar Business: Former Y Lot Sale above.]
1:11 a.m. Powers says that thanks to the work of Colliers and the city attorney’s office, there’s a sales agreement for consideration. The rider reflects the Nov. 7 council resolution.
1:15 a.m. Warpehoski says he dislikes the idea of Dahlmann’s downtown hotel monopoly, but feels like the council should let the “best bid win.” He also looks forward to the benefit to the city’s affordable housing trust fund. [By council resolution, the net proceeds of the sale are to go to the city's affordable housing trust fund.]
Petersen says she thinks that the parcel is too small for a hotel anyway. There are other city-owned parcels where a hotel could be built. Hieftje says there are several other sites where a hotel could be built, including private property that’s owned by developers.
Kunselman says: “I am so happy this is before us.” He recalls being on the planning commission in 2004 when it had approved a plan for a hotel on the site, which didn’t get built. “I’m not in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” Kunselman says. It’s 10 years of history. He misses the Y building. He remembers taking swim lessons there. He calls Dahlmann a well-respected businessman in the community.
1:17 a.m. Taylor says he’ll support the sale. He’d queried his constituents and on that basis he’d come to the conclusion that he’d support it. The Key Bank building is given as an example of the kind of quality of work by Dahlmann. Taylor says he’s looking forward to getting this property back on the tax rolls. Lumm says this proposal was “head and shoulders” above the other proposals.
1:20 a.m. Lumm thanks Kunselman for kicking off this effort. Lumm recalls serving in 1993 on something called the Ann Arbor Inn task force. She echoes Kunselman’s remarks about not picking winners and losers. It’s an exciting proposal, she says. It’s going to be a “shining development” for downtown. Lumm says Dahlmann’s proposal was the only one that proposed to involve the community with the development.
1:21 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to sell the former Y lot to Dennis Dahlmann for $5.25 million.
1:21 a.m. DB-1 Non-motorized plan update. The council is being asked to adopt an update to the non-motorized transportation plan. This item was postponed on Nov. 7 in deference to a request from Jane Lumm (Ward 2), who indicated she had not had an opportunity to read it through as closely as she wanted.
The city’s non-motorized transportation plan is part of the city’s master plan. The planning commission adopted the updated plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. It’s one of the few instances where the planning commission is not merely a recommending body. The council and the commission must adopt the same plan. [For additional background, see Delayed Business: Transportation – Non-Motorized Plan above.]
1:24 a.m. Lumm is asking Wendy Rampson, Eli Cooper and Craig Hupy at the podium to answer questions. She asks about bike boulevards. She wants an amendment to include a statement that any bike boulevard implementation plan would need to engage the neighborhood. Rampson points out that an amendment by the council would require the planning commission to reconsider the plan, because the council and the commission need to adopt the same plan. Briere asks Hupy to explain how the community engagement typically happens. If a bike boulevard were proposed, Briere ventures that the staff would have public engagement without any particular direction from the council. Hupy confirms Briere’s understanding.
1:29 a.m. Lumm says that her concern is that when you adopt a plan, the plan then gets implemented. Lumm thanks staff for answering her questions and all the work that went into developing the plan. Hearing it would have to go back to planning commission gave her pause. Warpehoski quotes out the section on bike boulevards and how the staff is supposed to engage the public. He also points out that the recommendations are in every case tentative. He doesn’t see the need to amend the plan.
Eaton points to page 39, which includes locations for rapid flashing beacons. Eaton asks what the implementation process would be. Cooper explains a process that starts with data collection. Council involvement would take place when the money was needed, Cooper says.
1:32 a.m. Hieftje asks Cooper to sketch out the process for developing the non-motorized plan update. Anglin wants clarification of the reason why planning commission would also need to approve any amendment. Rampson explains it.
1:32 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to adopt the update to the non-motorized transportation plan.
1:32 a.m. DS-1 Accept grant funds for emergency management program ($40,736). This resolution would accept a grant from the state of Michigan’s Emergency Management Division to support emergency management functions within the city. Historically, the city has used the grant to fund a portion of the emergency manager’s salary. The amount of the grant is $40,736.
1:32 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the emergency management grant funding.
1:32 a.m. DS-2 Easement: Orchard Hills water main. The next three items are related. They involve the city-university interface in the Arboretum. The first two are easements. The third item re-sets the boundary between the two entities. For this item, the council is being asked to accept an easement for a water main from the University of Michigan to cross UM-owned land in the Arboretum.
1:32 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the easement from UM in the Arb for a water main.
1:33 a.m. DS-3 Easement: Burnham House conduit. The council is being asked to grant an easement to the University of Michigan for conduit across city-owned Arboretum land.
1:33 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to grant the easement in the Arb to the UM for conduit.
1:33 a.m. DS-4 Set UM boundary line with the city. The resolution would set the boundary line in the Arboretum between the city and the university – which runs north-south along the western edge of the city-owned Arboretum property and the eastern edge of the university’s property. The boundary is now uncertain because it refers to obsolete natural features. The resolution would define the boundary as that which was determined by a survey performed by Arbor Land Consultants.
1:33 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the land survey result as defining the boundary between the city and the university in the Arb.
1:33 a.m. DS-5 Easement: water main at 2453 S. Industrial Hwy. The council is being asked to accept an easement from John E. Green Inc.
1:34 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the water main easement from John E. Green Inc.
1:36 a.m. Council communications. Briere reports about meetings she’d had about 1,4 dioxane. She’d attended a hearing in Lansing. Rep. Jeff Irwin had spoken at the hearing. It was interesting to sit in on, but she says she did not speak. She’d talked with the hearing panel, however, and told them the council and the Washtenaw County board wanted this resolved. There’d be another push in February, she ventures.
1:39 a.m. Taylor says today the council had approved a sales agreement with someone who’d contributed money to several council campaigns. He says there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was the kind of situation that some councilmembers had criticized at previous meetings.
1:39 a.m. Public commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
1:44 a.m. Kai Petainen is talking about his experience with getting financial records from Ann Arbor SPARK – he’d obtained them from the attorney general’s office, as SPARK had declined to give him the financial records. He tells Eaton that the meeting lasting until nearly 2 a.m. is “initiation.”
Ed Vielmetti is addressing the council. He says the land sale [to Dennis Dahlmann] came onto the agenda at the last possible minute. At 5:11 p.m. the relevant documents were not available, he says. The public was not invited to be a part of the process. He didn’t have an opportunity to see the documents before the council voted, let alone prepare comments to share during public commentary. He then calls the council’s attention to some very old minutes from various boards and commissions that were only now attached to the city council’s agenda.
Seth Best calls the council’s attention to the fact that the transgender day of remembrance is Nov. 20.
1:45 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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