Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Jan. 21, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. We think that will facilitate easier navigation from live-update material to background material already in the file.
The Ann Arbor city council’s second regular meeting in January is shifted to the Tuesday following the national holiday honoring the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Highlights of the Jan. 21 meeting agenda include three items related to development in the city – one for a specific project downtown and two others related to zoning regulations.
The council will be asked to approve the site plan for a revised, expanded version of the 624 Church St. project, located in the block just south of South University Avenue. An earlier version of the project went through the planning review process about a year ago, with city council approval coming on March 4, 2013.
The revised plan is for a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms. The apartment building would stand adjacent to and over the existing two-story restaurant at 618 Church, and would extend to the southeast corner of Willard and Church, where the building’s entrance will be located. Existing buildings at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard would be torn down. The city planning commission recommended approval of the revised plan at its Dec. 17, 2013 meeting.
Also on the Jan. 21 agenda are possible future changes to the city’s downtown zoning regulations. A public hearing on the matter will be held at the Jan. 21 meeting. Three of the recommendations relate to specific parcels: (1) Rezone the parcel located at 336 E. Ann from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface); (2) Reduce the maximum height in the East Huron 1 Character District (on the north side of Huron, between Division and State) to 120 feet. Include a tower diagonal maximum and consider a step-back requirement to reduce the shading of residential properties to the north; (3) Rezone the parcel at 425 S. Main, at the southeast corner of Main and William, from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface) and establish a maximum height of 60 feet for D2 zoning in the Main Street Character District. Several other recommendations focus on the issue of “premiums” – certain features that a developer can provide in exchange for additional square footage.
It’s likely that amendments will be brought forward during the Jan. 21 meeting that would alter the original resolution.
But the decision on the 624 Church St. project will come long before the zoning revisions could be enacted. And the changes – recommended by the city’s planning commission at its Dec. 3, 2013 meeting – are focused on parts of downtown Ann Arbor other than the South University area. The council’s Jan. 21 resolution, if approved, would direct the planning commission to translate its recommendations into proposed ordinance language, which would require review and a public hearing. The specific ordinance language would then be recommended by the planning commission to the city council, which would make the ultimate decision. In general, the planning commission’s downtown zoning recommendations aim to create more of a buffer between downtown development and adjacent or nearby residential neighborhoods.
Also its Jan. 21 meeting, the council will be asked to give initial approval for the zoning of two unzoned properties on South State Street – 1643 and 1645 S. State. They are proposed to be zoned C1 (local business district). One of those properties houses Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky. The currently unzoned parcels – located in Ward 4 just south of Stimson and the Produce Station – are owned by Stefan Hofmann. The zoning for these parcels, which were annexed into the city from Ann Arbor township in 2011, has previously been considered by the planning commission.
In another item related to South State Street property, the council will be asked to approve a $25,550 contract with Atwell LLC for environmental site assessment services to evaluate 2500 S. State St. That’s the Edwards Brothers Malloy property for which the council is currently exploring options to purchase. The item was added to the agenda last Friday, after the initial publication of the agenda.
Also on the Jan. 21 agenda are two items related to construction of sidewalks. One resolution involves a sidewalk gap from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward – to connect to a path leading the rest of the way to King Elementary School. The council had already authorized $10,000 for the design and public process budget at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting. A small amount of that was spent. To cover the $16,000 construction cost, an additional $6,818 of general fund money is being requested at the Jan. 21 meeting. The other sidewalk item is the first of four steps in the process to impose a special assessment on property owners for a sidewalk on the east side of Pontiac Trail, between Skydale and Dhu Varren Road.
The council will also be asked to extend the contract with the city’s public art administrator, Aaron Seagraves, by six months – through June 30, 2014 – and to add $18,500 to his compensation to cover the added term. It’s a part-time position.
Another agenda item is for a recommendation that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve a special downtown development liquor license for the Lunch Room at 407 N. Fifth Avenue. The council also will be asked to approve a change in the classification of Silvio’s Organic Pizza license from a Tavern License to a Class C License, to allow for the sale of liquor in addition to beer and wine. Silvio’s is located at 715 N. University Ave.
The council’s consent agenda includes two contracts related to the sobriety court, one of the 15th District Court’s specialty courts. The consent agenda also includes street closures in connection with three events: Winter Warriors, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, and the University of Michigan Big House 5K.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Tuesday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
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.
624 Church St.
This project would be located south of South University Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor, next to and over the two-story Pizza House restaurant on the west side of Church. A previous version went through the planning review process and was given approval by the city council almost a year ago at its March 4, 2013 meeting.
The current, revised plan is for a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms. The apartment building would extend to the southeast corner of Willard and Church, where the building’s entrance will be located. Existing buildings at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard would be torn down.
The original plan was for an 83,807-square-foot, 14-story building addition with 76 residential units. But after the original plan received site plan approval, the developer purchased an adjacent parcel at 1117 Willard to expand the project. The Tice family, which owns Pizza House, is partnering with Opus Group of Minnetonka, Minnesota, and 624 Partners LLC. When Pizza House expanded in 2006, the project included foundations that would allow for a taller building eventually to be constructed. [.pdf of site plan] [.pdf of draft development agreement] [.pdf of staff memo]
Premiums offered in the D1 zoning district – for buildings with residential uses, and LEED silver certification – are being used to allow a larger structure than would otherwise be permitted, gaining an additional 267% in floor area ratio for a total of 667% FAR. To use the residential premium, each bedroom must have a window directly to the outside.
The project includes a 1,491-square-foot outdoor dining area for Pizza House, which will be built underneath the apartment structure on the south side of the restaurant, opening onto Church Street. It will be partially enclosed, with large garage-style overhead doors along the front property line opening to the sidewalk.
Other features of the project and development agreement include:
- Two small offices for building management on the ground floor of the addition, with a solid waste/recycling room and bicycle parking room at the rear. There will be no new retail space.
- The top floor will include a small “club room” for residents and a rooftop patio with benches, a small grilling area, and garden trellis.
- The second floor will contain a fitness room, study lounge and five apartments. Other floors will have 11 apartments each. The apartments will be divided into: 23 one-bedroom (19%); 88 two-bedroom (72%); and 11 three-bedroom (9%). The units will range in size from 490 to 1,100 square feet.
- The developer will make a contribution of $47,120 to the city’s parks and recreation unit for improvements to the nearby Forest Plaza, adjacent to the Forest Avenue parking structure.
- The development agreement includes a requirement to disconnect 27 footing drains as part of the city’s footing drain disconnect program. That’s an increase from the 20 that were required for the previous version of the project.
The new version of this development was evaluated by the city’s design review board, which was generally supportive of the project. [.pdf of September 2013 DRB report]
The development requires 53 parking spaces under the city’s zoning. Five of those will be provided in spaces underneath the building. The previous proposal had no on-site parking. At its Nov. 6, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority granted the owner the ability to buy a total of 48 monthly parking permits in the Forest Avenue parking structure, through the city’s contribution in lieu (CIL) program. That program requires the developer to pay 20% more than the standard rate for monthly parking permits. The DDA had already granted a request for 42 permits under the original version of the project.
At its Jan. 8 2014 meeting, the DDA board approved a request for the option to extend the monthly parking contracts for three five-year periods. Opus had wanted the ability to extend the contract’s 15-year commitment to instead cover a 30-year financing period – based on feedback from firms that would be providing the financing.
The previous development proposal had drawn concern from representatives of the adjacent Zaragon Place apartments, at 619 E. University. The concerns stemmed in part from the fact that under the previous plan, the new building would have been built up to the lot line next to Zaragon Place. The current proposal calls for a setback of 10 feet and 20 feet from that property line. According to planning staff, the city hasn’t received any feedback from adjacent property owners about this current proposal.
Downtown Zoning Recommendations
By way of background, a downtown zoning evaluation began last year, following a city council directive to the planning commission on April 1, 2o13. That direction was prompted in part by the controversial 413 E. Huron development, at the northeast corner of Huron and Division. The council’s direction was for the planning commission to make recommendations to the city council by Oct. 1, 2013.
Planning consultant ENP & Associates was hired to gather public input and evaluate certain aspects of downtown zoning known as A2D2 (Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown), which was adopted in 2009. ENP’s Erin Perdu took the lead on this project.
Her report had been originally presented at the commission’s Oct. 8, 2013 working session. [.pdf of consultant's downtown zoning report] [.pdf of Appendix A: city council resolution regarding zoning review] [.pdf Appendix B: list of downtown development projects since 2000] [.pdf of Appendix C: public input results]
Commissioners held a public hearing on the consultant’s recommendations that began on Oct. 15, 2013, and continued at their Nov. 6, 2013 meeting. They also discussed the recommendations at a Nov. 12 working session. Based on that discussion, planning manager Wendy Rampson made revisions to Perdu’s original set of recommendations. Rampson drafted a memo and resolution containing these revised recommendations. [.pdf of Nov. 19 memo and draft resolution]
The commission continued the public hearing and debated most of these recommendations at its Nov. 19, 2013 meeting, which adjourned at about 12:30 a.m. The group did not tackle the most controversial item that night: Possible changes to the parcel at 425 S. Main, at the southeast corner of Main and William.
On Dec. 3, commissioners picked up the topic and heard from three people during the ongoing public hearing – all three of them addressing the issue of zoning at 425 S. Main. Following that, the commission’s discussion focused on 425 S. Main, as well as revisiting a recommendation related to the design guidelines.
For additional background on this process, see Chronicle coverage: “Feedback on Downtown Zoning Continues“; “Downtown Zoning Review Nears Final Phase“; “Priorities Emerge in Downtown Zoning Review”; ”Downtown Zoning Review Moves Forward” and “Downtown Zoning Review to Wrap Up Soon.”
In general, the final recommendations made by the planning commission at its Dec. 3, 2013 meeting aim to create more of a buffer between downtown development and adjacent or nearby residential neighborhoods.
Three of the recommendations relate to specific parcels: (1) Rezone the parcel located at 336 E. Ann from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface); (2) Reduce the maximum height in the East Huron 1 Character District (on the north side of Huron, between Division and State) to 120 feet. Include a tower diagonal maximum and consider a step-back requirement to reduce the shading of residential properties to the north; (3) Rezone the parcel at 425 S. Main, at the southeast corner of Main and William, from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface) and establish a maximum height of 60 feet for D2 zoning in the Main Street Character District.
Several other recommendations focused on the issue of “premiums” – certain features that a developer can provide in exchange for additional square footage. Those recommendations are: (1) Revise the premium conditions to require mandatory compliance with core design guidelines for a project to receive any premium in the D1 or D2 districts; (2) Reduce the residential premium with the goal of encouraging the use of other existing or proposed premiums to compensate for this reduction, such as increased energy efficiency certification, open space with landscape, active ground floor use, balconies and workforce housing; (3) Review options in D1 and D2 districts, with the housing and humans services advisory board (HHSAB), for providing additional affordable housing within mixed income projects or through other funding mechanisms; (4) Eliminate the affordable housing 900% FAR (floor area ratio) “super premium”; and (5) Evaluate the downtown real estate market to determine the effectiveness of premium incentives every 2-5 years. [.pdf of possible amendments to the downtown zoning resolution that Sabra Briere (Ward 1) might bring forward]
The council’s Jan. 21 resolution would accept the recommendations as completing the planning commission’s assignment. The resolution would further direct the planning commission to translate its recommendations into proposed ordinance language, which would require review and a public hearing. The specific ordinance language would then be recommended by the planning commission to the city council, which would make the ultimate decision after a public hearing.
State Street Zoning Request
On the city council’s Jan. 21 agenda is initial approval for the zoning of two properties on South State Street – 1643 and 1645 S. State. The zoning designation would be C1 (local business district). One of those properties houses Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky.
The unzoned parcels – located in Ward 4 just south of Stimson and the Produce Station – are owned by Stefan Hofmann. The site at 1645 S. State is used for storage. In addition to housing Biercamp, the parcel at 1643 S. State also includes an auto repair shop and furniture manufacturer, which is primarily a woodworking shop.
The zoning for these parcels, which were annexed into the city from Ann Arbor township in 2011, has previously been considered by the planning commission. That was when Biercamp owners Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle wanted to zone the property C3 (fringe commercial district), so their business could sell a wider variety of merchandise, including products not made on site.
When the property was annexed into the city from the township, the site had been zoned by the township for light industrial. The closest equivalent in the city’s zoning code was M-1 (limited industrial zoning). The city’s master plan – prior to the adoption of the South State Street corridor plan – called for light industrial zoning in that area, but M-1 zoning would only allow for retail space to occupy 20% of the building’s floor area, to sell products made on-site.
At its Sept. 8, 2011 meeting, the planning commission unanimously recommended denial of that C3 zoning request, based on the proposed zoning being inconsistent with the city’s master plan. The request was then made directly to the city council, which also denied the request at a meeting on Feb. 21, 2012.
At the time, planning commissioners also were advocating for a broader study of the State Street corridor. That study was subsequently completed, and on July 15, 2013, the city council adopted the South State Street corridor plan as an amendment to the master plan’s land use element.
According to a staff memo, the adoption of the corridor plan into the city’s master plan prompted city planning staff to initiate the current zoning request. The C1 zoning is consistent with recommendations in the master plan, which calls for a mixed-use neighborhood retail center in that area to serve the Yost and Burns Park neighborhoods.
C1 is a more restrictive type of zoning than C3, primarily related to limits on the size of a business. No drive-thru restaurants are allowed in C1 districts, and there’s an 8,000-square-foot limit on the size of a business, for example. There is no restriction in either C1 or C3 that limits the products sold to those that are made on-site.
The city’s planning commission recommended C1 zoning for these parcels at its Dec. 17, 2013 meeting.
Public Art Administrator
The council will be asked to extend the contract with the city’s public art administrator, Aaron Seagraves, by six months – through June 30, 2014 – and to add $18,500 to his compensation to cover the added term. A total of $20,500 would be appropriated from the balance in the public art fund, with the additional money to cover various expenses. Seagraves is contracted to work an average of 20 hours a week.
By way of background, the city council enacted a public art ordinance in late 2007, setting up a Percent for Art program as a funding mechanism. For each of the city’s capital projects, 1% of the budget – up to a cap of $250,000 – was set aside for public art. The Ann Arbor public art commission oversaw the expenditures. However, the approach proved controversial and the city council changed the ordinance to eliminate the Percent for Art funding mechanism at its June 3, 2013 meeting. That ordinance change came after a failed public art millage that was put before voters in the November 2012 election.
Under the new approach, city staff will work to determine whether a specific capital improvement should have enhanced design features “baked in” to the project – either enhanced architectural work or specific public art. The funding for any of the enhanced features would be included in the project’s budget and incorporated into the RFP (request for proposals) process for the capital project.
The funds accrued to the public art fund during the time of the Percent for Art program are still subject to the same legal constraints – which require a thematic link between the original source of the funds (e.g., the street millage) and the piece of art to be funded. The council debate at its June 3, 2013 meeting included wrangling about what to do with that fund balance, with Jane Lumm (Ward 2) arguing unsuccessfully that $845,029 should be returned to the funds of origin. The council voted to return only the money that had accrued to the fund in the most recent budget year – $326,464.
A budget summary provided by Seagraves in response to a Chronicle email shows a current balance of $839,507 in available funds for public art, as of Jan. 14, 2014. An additional $535,853 is earmarked for three projects that are underway: artwork at East Stadium bridges ($385,709), a rain garden at Kingsley and First ($7,009), and at Argo Cascades ($143,134). [.pdf of financial summary]
Two items involving construction of new sidewalks – at two specific locations – appear on the council’s Jan. 21 agenda.
By way of background, at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting, the city council had approved a $10,000 design budget for a sidewalk to fill in a gap from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward, connecting to a path leading the rest of the way to the King Elementary School.
In its form, that resolution was similar to other sidewalk design budgets the council approved last year. [For example, the council approved similar design budgets for a sidewalk on Barton Drive at its July 15, 2013 meeting, a sidewalk on Newport Road at its Jan. 22, 2013 meeting, and for a sidewalk on Scio Church Road at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting.]
However, the sidewalk gap near King Elementary School includes a history of advocacy by nearby resident and former Ann Arbor Public Schools board member Kathy Griswold dating back to 2009.
For students crossing Waldenwood from the west to attend school, the new 186-foot sidewalk would allow them to make the crossing at the intersection, where there is a four-way stop – instead of crossing the street using a mid-block crosswalk. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, “The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) Transportation Safety Committee has agreed the use of a new crosswalk at this stop controlled location would be preferable over the existing mid-block crossing at the school entrance.”
From the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2010, Griswold addressed the council on at least nine occasions on the topic of the King Elementary School crosswalk and the related sidewalk gap. The construction of a sidewalk had been met with opposition by the immediately adjoining property owners. And the more recent feedback, reflected in the staff memo for the Jan. 21 meeting, indicates that an Oct. 3, 2013 neighborhood meeting attended by 22 people resulted in 15 feedback forms, 10 of which indicated support and 5 of which indicated opposition. [.pdf of letter from the van Nieuwstadts and Weismans]
The funding of new sidewalks – as contrasted with repair of existing sidewalks – is typically achieved at least partly through a special assessment on adjoining property owners. Sidewalk repair, but not new construction, can be paid for with the city’s sidewalk repair millage.
In the case of the Waldenwood sidewalk, it’s located to the rear of the residential properties – and the city does not typically special assess properties to finance sidewalks to the rear of a property.
Only a small amount of the originally approved $10,000 design budget was spent. To cover the $16,000 construction cost, an additional $6,818 of general fund money is being requested at the Jan. 21 meeting.
Sidewalks: Pontiac Trail
In a different sidewalk-related item, the council will be asked to take the first of four steps in the process to impose a special assessment on property owners for a sidewalk on the east side of Pontiac Trail, between Skydale and Dhu Varren Road. The project would also construct a concrete curb and gutter northward from Skydale about 920 feet along the east side of Pontiac Trail and about 1,030 feet along the west side of Pontiac Trail. Those stretches currently don’t have a curb and gutter.
This first step directs the city administrator to prepare plans, specifications and a cost estimate.
On the council’s consent agenda are two items related to the sobriety court, which is a specialty court within the 15th District Court.
One is a contract with Washtenaw County Community Support & Treatment Services (CSTS) to provide mental health treatment services to defendants who appear in the sobriety court. The amount of the contract is $45,271 and is funded with a grant from the Supreme Court of Michigan State Court Administrative Office Michigan Drug Court Grant Program (SCAO-MDCGP).
The second is a contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office to provide drug abuse screening services of defendants in the sobriety court and the veterans treatment court. The amount of the contract is $23,200 and is paid for through the Supreme Court of Michigan State Court Administrative Office Veterans Treatment Court Grant Program (SCAO-MVTCGP) and the Supreme Court of Michigan State Court Administrative Office Drug Court Grant program (SCAO-MDCGP).
Three street closings appear on the council’s consent agenda:
- Feb. 1, 2014: Winter Warriors. The event will shut down a half block of E. Washington outside the Arbor Brewing Company. The fundraiser to “terminate” hunger with a special batch of Terminator Doppelbock entails sitting outside in the cold.
- March 9, 2014: Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K Run/Walk. The course is straight up Main Street from the corner of Main and Stadium into downtown Ann Arbor, where it loops around. [.pdf of Shamrocks and Shenanigans street closures]
- April 6, 2014: University of Michigan Big House 5K. Streets to be closed are in the vicinity of the university campus. The finish takes runners into Michigan Stadium down the tunnel with a finish at the 50-yard line.
Liquor: Lunch Room, Silvio’s
Two items added to the council’s agenda on Jan. 17 after the agenda’s initial publication are related to liquor licenses. The council will be asked to recommend that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve a special downtown development liquor license for The Lunch Room at 407 N. Fifth Avenue. That category of license was made available by the Michigan legislature in 2006 for cities that established districts where such licenses would be granted. The requirements include investment in the rehabilitation of the building that houses the establishment seeking the license, and a determination that the recipient of the license be recommended “above all others.”
And the council will be asked to approve a change in the classification of Silvio’s Organic Pizza license from a Tavern License to a Class C License. A key difference between a Class C license and a Tavern License is that a Class C license allows the sale and consumption of not just beer and wine, but also liquor. Silvio’s is located at 715 N. University Ave.
Edwards Brothers Land
Another item added to the agenda on Jan. 17 is the approval of a $25,550 contract with Atwell LLC for environmental site assessment services to evaluate 2500 S. State St. That’s the Edwards Brothers Malloy property for which the council is currently exploring options to purchase.
The University of Michigan has made an offer to Edwards Brothers to purchase the property for $12.8 million, but the city has a right of first refusal. At its Jan. 6, 2014 meeting, the council directed the city administrator and the city attorney to explore options and gather information. So the site assessment by Atwell is part of that effort. The council is working within a 60-business-day window that began Nov. 27, 2013.
Live updates will begin closer to the 7 p.m. scheduled meeting start time.
4:11 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) might be bringing forward some amendments to the council’s resolution that directs the planning commission’s work on revisions to downtown zoning. In addition to the original resolution’s direction to implement as a part of the zoning code a set of the planning commission’s own recommendations, Briere’s amendments would also direct the planning commission to (1) consider rezoning Huron Street from Division to Fourth Avenue to conform with the East Huron 1 character district (which has a height limit of 150 feet instead of a 180-foot limit like other D-1 areas); (2) to consider whether other D1-zoned areas, which do not have buffering from adjacent residential neighborhoods, including some areas of South University and Thayer Street, should be rezoned to D2. Briere’s amendments add a date certain by which the planning commission is to report to the council on all its work on this issue: Oct. 20, 2014, which is the council’s second meeting that month. [.pdf of possible amendments to the downtown zoning resolution that Sabra Briere (Ward 1) might bring forward.]
4:14 p.m. Staff’s written responses to questions about agenda items are now available: [.pdf of Jan. 21, 2014 agenda responses] Highlights include the clarification that in the resolution authorizing the contract with Atwell for the Edwards Brothers land site assessment, the acronym ACM stands for “asbestos-containing materials.”
4:55 p.m. Five people are signed up for public commentary reserved time. Two are signed up to speak on the Waldenwood sidewalk project: Michael van Nieuwstadt and Kathryn Dacosta. Two people are signed up to talk about a fracking moratorium: Kurt Gleichman and Leon Bryson. And Bob Miller, chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, is signed up to give an update on public art.
6:27 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.
6:29 p.m. CTN staff has installed microphones for councilmembers at the table. Replay of most the recent Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority meeting is playing on the monitor. Council chambers are empty except for The Chronicle. Odile Hugonot Haber arrives.
6:41 p.m. A UM political science graduate student who has been attending city council meetings for the last year and a half has arrived. Dissertation to come in a year or so. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) is the first councilmember to arrive.
6:52 p.m. Chambers are starting to fill up. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) has arrived. Several high school students here to satisfy a course requirement are here.
6:54 p.m. Usual interested parties on zoning issues are here: Eppie Potts, Piotr Michalowski, Peter Nagourney. City administrator Steve Powers and city attorney Stephen Postema have arrived. Bob Miller from the public art commission is here.
7:05 p.m. All the councilmembers have now arrived.
7:07 p.m. Mayor John Hieftje is twirling the gavel. We’re close to starting.
7:07 p.m. Call to order, moment of silence, pledge of allegiance. And we’re off.
7:08 p.m. Roll call of council. All councilmembers are present and correct.
7:09 p.m. Approval of agenda. The agenda has been approved.
7:10 p.m. Communications from the city administrator. Steve Powers says that the cold weather has again caused the Delonis Shelter to go into emergency mode. The intoxication and behavior rules have been relaxed. He gave additional information, noting that much of it had been covered previously in an update at the council’s Jan. 6, 2014 meeting.
7:10 p.m. Public commentary reserved time. 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.] Tonight’s lineup for reserved time speaking is: Michael van Nieuwstadt and Kathryn Dacosta, speaking on the Waldenwood sidewalk project; Kurt Gleichman and Leon Bryson to talk about a fracking moratorium; and Bob Miller, chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, to give an update on public art.
7:14 p.m. Michael van Nieuwstadt is an owner of property adjacent to the proposed sidewalk near King Elementary School. He asks for clarification about the nature of the agenda item: Does it involve moving the crosswalk as well as construction of the sidewalk? Sabra Briere (Ward 1) tells him it’s just about construction of the sidewalk. He says that he’s been asking for a safety report for the last four weeks, and he’d learned that one had been produced just today. He wants some time to look at the report. He described the sidewalk connection as connecting two pieces of “nowhere.” He asks for some additional time for the neighborhood to gather its thoughts.
7:17 p.m. Kathryn Dacosta is also addressing the sidewalk extension. She walks her kids to school every day, so she’s on the front lines of the issue, she says. Before the 2011-12 school year there was no crossing guard. It’s a difficult situation and it’s very unsafe, she says. Drivers are distracted by saying goodbye or looking for their kids. They’re not watching for kids doing unexpected things. Drivers are committing traffic infractions. She reports that Sally Petersen (Ward 2) visited the site this morning. Dacosta says there have been three traffic accidents in the last year. There’s gridlock, she says, causing angry drivers. Drivers are also on their cell phones. People also park on the side of the street where the extension is proposed. She took a photo to illustrate it, which she hands to the city clerk – parents with their children walking in the street.
7:19 p.m. Bob Miller, chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, is now addressing the council. The art commission has followed the direction of the city council since the change to the ordinance last year, he reports. He’s giving a summary of the projects that are currently in the works. The commission looks forward to achieving the goals set by the council, he tells councilmembers.
7:22 p.m. Kurt Gleichman expresses that there’s urgency to implement anti-fracking ordinances. Coalition groups have worked on raising awareness, he says. Corporations don’t have a conscience, he says. Corporations have huge resources to influence legislators and persuade the public, he cautions. Those in power take the easy way out, he says. Because of a lack of action by those in authority, the people have to take it into their own hands, he says. He alludes to a trial that’s starting next Monday in connection with a civil disobedience action against fracking. He asks the council to make this a priority.
7:27 p.m. Leon Bryson introduces himself as a Ward 5 resident. He calls for a local ordinance against fracking. He says he recently attended a meeting with state Rep. Gretchen Driskell on the topic. He said some of the people who attended the meeting had been approached by companies who wanted to buy their mineral rights. He’s concerned that horizontal drilling could come close to his own house. He alludes to the chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated the drinking water. “We can take the lead in Ann Arbor” to ban fracking, he said. He alludes to the leadership of Ann Arbor on the pedestrian ordinance, and calls on the Ann Arbor council to show similar leadership on the fracking issue.
7:27 p.m. Communications from council. This is the first of three slots on the agenda for council communications. It’s a time when councilmembers can report out from boards, commissions and task forces on which they serve. They can also alert their colleagues to proposals they might be bringing forward in the near future.
7:27 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) notes that fracking is already banned by the city’s prohibition of any extraction of minerals within the city limits. But he allows that there could be loopholes – and says that the city is working to address those. Ann Arbor is already leading on this issue, he says. He points out that Ann Arbor, as a home rule city, can ban mineral extraction, but townships surrounding Ann Arbor can’t.
7:30 p.m. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) gives an update on what’s being done for former residents of the Green Baxter Court building that was destroyed by fire on Jan. 8. It’s an Ann Arbor housing commission property. Petersen said she and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) held a town hall meeting and were updated by Joan Doughty of Community Action Network. CAN runs a community center at Green Baxter, under contract with the city.
7:33 p.m. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) is reading aloud a communication from a driver who questions the city’s crosswalk ordinance, based on an experience she had. Kunselman now is reading aloud from the ordinance, and from mayor John Hieftje’s veto statement. Kunselman then reads aloud from an interview with Hieftje in Concentrate magazine.
7:33 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) is following up on Petersen’s remarks on the Green Baxter Court fire. She tells people to go to the Community Action Network website to find out how they can help.
7:35 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) announces a meeting on Jan. 22 at Forsythe Middle School about a sidewalk. Lumm announces a Millers Creek sediment accumulation study meeting.
7:35 p.m. MC-1 Pedestrian safety and access task force appointments. The council is being asked to confirm appointment of the nine members of the pedestrian safety task force, which was established by the council at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. The members of the task force are: Vivienne Armentrout, Neal Elyakin, Linda Diane Feldt, Jim Rees, Anthony Pinnell, Sarah Pressprich Gryniewicz, Kenneth Clark, Scott Campbell, and Owen Jansson.
7:36 p.m. Kunselman asks what the task is of the task force: Is it to come up with recommendations to amend the ordinance?
7:39 p.m. Briere says the task force was conceived independently of the heated controversy about the crosswalk ordinance. There are a whole slew of things related to pedestrian safety in addition to crosswalks, she says. She alludes to a manual put out by the federal government that will guide the task force’s work. She also says that the task force will be given a book about walkable cities.
7:40 p.m. Kunselman says that Briere’s explanation makes clear that the council can continue to consider the question of amending the crosswalk ordinance. He’s focused on a phrase from the mayor’s veto statement that says that drivers should stop “if they can do so safely.” He ventures that an attempt might be made to amend the language of the ordinance to include that phrase.
7:41 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to confirm all the pedestrian safety and access appointments.
7:42 p.m. MC-2 Nominations. Nominations to city boards and commissions to be voted on at the council’s next meeting include the following: Jim Simpson is being nominated to fill the vacancy of Malverne Winborne on the public art commission. Winborne’s term ended on Dec. 31, 2013. Daniel Lee is being nominated to serve out the rest of Marta Manildi’s term on the Ann Arbor housing commission. Manildi’s term ends this spring, but she said she’d step down early if someone could be appointed. Paige Morrison is being nominated to serve out the rest of Jennifer Geer’s term on the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. Geer resigned. Peter Woolf is being nominated to fill the vacancy of Lindsey-Jean Hard on the public market advisory commission.
7:42 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. Tonight the two public hearings that are scheduled are on (1) the downtown zoning recommendations, and (2) the 624 Church St. project, a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms.
7:46 p.m. PH-1 Downtown zoning amendments. Peter Nagourney is first up. He supports the work of consultant Erin Perdu. He calls the master plan the constitution and the zoning ordinance the law. In some cases the consultant’s recommendations went beyond the council’s direction, he notes, but that was in order to achieve overall consistency. He’s arguing for specific points of rezoning.
7:49 p.m. Doug Kelbaugh is now addressing the council. He says the fallout from 413 E. Huron has resulted in a productive process. Going from 180 feet to 60 feet (D-1 to D-2) is too abrupt, he says. He asks for the rest of Ann Street to be considered as a part of the reconsidered zoning. He alludes to Briere’s possible amendment as possibly addressing the Ann Street concerns. He tells the council that the recommendations in front of the council are supported by many people.
7:51 p.m. Tamara Burns, an architect and chair of the city’s design review board, tells the council that the board does not support tying the award of premiums to compliance with the recommendations of the design review board. The design guidelines need to be revised and the process for the design review needs to be updated, she says – before making premium FAR (floor area ratio) contingent on design review board recommendations.
7:52 p.m. Steve Kaplan says that in recent history, his observation is that having design guidelines is a great start, but it’s easy to ignore them. He asks that some attention is given to how much teeth guidelines can have so people follow them in the future.
7:55 p.m. Chris Crockett thanks the council for providing the direction to re-evaluate the downtown zoning. She says there are some changes to the recommendations that she would suggest. She wants consideration of zoning changes all the way to Fourth Avenue on Ann Street. She calls 413 E. Huron a sad experience because of a misapplication of character areas. Crockett has respect for Tamara Burns, saying she’s known Burns since Burns was in high school. But Crockett ventures that there could be some way to put some additional teeth into the design guidelines.
7:56 p.m. Hugh Sonk represents the Sloan Plaza Condominium Association. Sloan Plaza is located on the north side of East Huron, next to the 413 E. Huron development. He calls on the council to support the additional recommendations made by the near downtown neighborhood group. [.pdf of Near-Downtown Neighborhood Group letter]
8:00 p.m. Piotr Michalowski says he’s very concerned about the corner of Main and William. He asks the council to support the current recommendation to rezone that parcel as D-2. He says that residents of the neighborhood have already been “burned” once with a project he says he will not name. [He's referring to City Place, on South Fifth Avenue south of William.] He asks the council to maintain the transition between residential areas and Main Street.
8:04 p.m. Cy Hufano is a resident of Sloan Plaza. On the technical side, he addresses the second recommendation – for the D-1.5 zoning proposal, which includes a height limit of 120 feet, and the use of diagonals. As far as the process goes, he felt there were a lot of loose ends. He cautioned that decisions get made based on the threat of lawsuits. He says he’s speaking from the heart. He visited the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and looked at a mural. There was a figure holding a halter, he said: “People have got to watch what government is doing.”
8:07 p.m. Ray Detter is now addressing the council and essentially reprising the same comments that he delivered at the Jan. 8, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. He agrees with Hufano’s comments.
8:10 p.m. Eppie Potts strongly urges support for the resolution to start the process of much-needed amendments. D-1 and D-2 have been tried, but found to be controversial, she says. To avoid future controversy, additional revision is needed. She cites problems with overlay districts. She gives The Varsity on East Washington as an example of a problem with front setbacks. She asks the council to keep the door open to reviewing other troublesome aspects of D-1 and D-2.
8:13 p.m. Eleanor Linn introduces herself as a resident of Forest Court, near Zaragon and the Landmark apartment buildings in the South University neighborhood. She ventures that another large building will be built on Church Street, depending on the council’s action later that night. She supports the possible amendments to be offered by Briere that would direct the planning commission to consider revisions to zoning in the South University area. Linn recalls intricate details of the history of past planning exercises.
8:16 p.m. David Blanchard introduces himself as chair of the city’s housing and human services advisory board (HHSAB). He says he wants to keep the idea of affordable housing alive and a diversity of housing choices for different income levels. He remembers the PUD (planned unit development) system where cash-in-lieu could be contributed. He also noted that the current zoning has a “super-premium” for building affordable housing. The current recommendation is to remove that premium, because that premium wasn’t being used. That might be the right recommendation, he said, but he wasn’t sure enough thought had gone into it. He urged the planning commission to work with HHSAB to make affordable housing a reality in Ann Arbor.
8:16 p.m. That’s it for PH-1.
8:16 p.m. PH-2 624 Church site plan. Brad Moore, the architect for the project, is first up.
8:19 p.m. Moore notes that what’s before the council is a revision to the previous project. The renovation to Pizza House was designed with strong enough foundations to facilitate a larger project. He’s explaining that the portion of the previous project that had zero setback with the adjacent Zaragon building has been redesigned, so that it now has a 20-foot setback. [That had been a point of friction in the previous iteration of the project, but has not been an issue this time around.] Moore notes that the unit mix is about 90% 1-2 bedroom units, with 11 3-bedroom units.
8:21 p.m. Eppie Potts is speaking to the parking permit issue. She questions the contribution-in-lieu policy that allows a developer to pay for permits in the public parking system, instead of building parking spaces onsite. That’s not good for the public, Potts says. She won’t be able to get to her favorite restaurant, she fears. The public is being crowded out, she says. If the developer can build that big of a building, they could find a way to build some parking, she contends.
8:23 p.m. Scott Munzel is a local attorney representing Opus, the developer. He notes that the project complies with all the applicable requirements. He says that it’s a creative use of a “difficult site.” That’s why it’s difficult to construct parking onsite, he says. That’s why the developer is making use of the city’s contribution-in-lieu program. The project is consistent with the downtown plan, he says, and it’s consistent with other city goals, like creating a sense of place.
8:25 p.m. Maggie Ladd, director of the South University Area Association, tells the council she supports the project. She says that the zoning was changed before the A2D2 (Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown) process, and that A2D2 lowered the height restrictions.
8:25 p.m. That’s it for PH-2.
8:25 p.m. Approval of previous meeting minutes. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the previous meeting’s minutes.
8:25 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:
- CA-1 Approve a contract with Washtenaw County Community Support & Treatment Services to provide mental health treatment services to sobriety court defendants ($45,271) .
- CA-2 Approve contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office to provide drug abuse screening services to veterans treatment court and sobriety court defendants ($23,200).
- CA-3 Approve a purchase order for Enertron LLC for the city hall network cabling project ($39,704)
- CA-4 Approve a purchase order to New World Systems for financial system annual software support and maintenance agreement ($64,040).
- CA-5 Accept board of insurance administration minutes of Dec. 17, 2013.
- CA-6 Close E. Washington for Winter Warriors (Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014).
- CA-7 Close streets for Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K (Sunday, March 9, 2014)
- CA-8 Close Streets for UM Big House 5K (Sunday, April 6, 2014).
8:26 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. No one does.
8:26 p.m. Outcome: All items on the consent agenda have now been approved.
8:26 p.m. C-1 Hofmann zoning. The council is being asked to give initial approval of the zoning of the parcel as C1 (local business district). This parcel houses Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky. The owners of Biercamp had wanted C3 zoning two years ago, which was denied. C1 is a more restrictive type of zoning than C3, primarily related to limits on the size of a business. No drive-thru restaurants are allowed in C1 districts, and there’s an 8,000-square-foot limit on the size of a business, for example. There is no restriction in either C1 or C3 that limits the products sold to those that are made on-site.This is just the initial approval to establish zoning, after annexation from the township. [For more detailed background, see State Street Zoning Request above.]
8:29 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) notes that the staff memo gave the historical perspective, but he wasn’t sure if the proposal met Biercamp’s needs. He says that it gave him the chance to visit the business to get some jerky and to get a growler so that Sally Petersen was clear about what a growler is. He lifts a growler onto the table. [Petersen had previously asked at a council meeting what a growler is.] Warpehoski says that the Biercamp owners are supportive of the C-1 zoning.
8:30 p.m. Outcome: The council has given initial approval to the Hoffman zoning. It will need a second vote at a subsequent meeting.
8:30 p.m. DC-1 Recommend approval of downtown development district liquor license to The Lunch Room, LLC. [For more detailed background, see Liquor: Lunch Room, Silvio's above.]
8:30 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) reviews the details of the requirements. She thanks the various staff involved including the clerk’s office, fire department, police department, and city attorney’s office.
8:31 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to recommend approval of a downtown development district liquor license for The Lunch Room.
8:31 p.m. DC-2 Approve request from Silvio’s Organic Pizzeria Inc. to transfer classification from a Tavern License to a Class C License. A key difference between a Tavern license and a Class C license is that Tavern licenses are restricted to beer and wine. Class C includes other alcohol. [For more detailed background, see Liquor: Lunch Room, Silvio's above.]
8:32 p.m. Lumm reviews the item, noting it’s not a new license, but rather a change in the classification. She reiterates her thanks to the various city staff: “They do great work,” she says.
8:32 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the change from a Tavern license to a Class C license for Silvio’s Organic Pizza.
8:32 p.m. DC-3 Approve a contract with Atwell, LLC for environmental site assessment (ESA) services ($25,550). The property in question is the Edwards Brothers Malloy property on S. State Street. The city is now gathering information in advance of a decision on whether to exercise its right of first refusal to purchase the land. The University of Michigan has made an offer of $12.8 million. [For more detailed background, see Edwards Brothers Land above.]
8:33 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the contract with Atwell to do a site assessment of the Edwards Brothers property.
8:33 p.m. DB-1 Downtown zoning amendments. These are recommendations for changes to downtown zoning that came from the planning commission, prompted by the controversy last year surrounding the 413 E. Huron project. If the recommendations for the changes are approved, the planning commission will then be tasked with crafting ordinance language to implement the recommendations. After the planning commission has completed that task, held a public hearing and voted on it, the ordinance revisions will be forwarded to the city council. The council would then need to give initial approval, hold a public hearing, and then give the changes final approval. [For more detailed background, see Downtown Zoning Recommendations above.]
Here’s a .pdf of possible amendments to the downtown zoning resolution that Sabra Briere (Ward 1) might bring forward.
8:36 p.m. Briere, who represents the city council on the planning commission, says that the commission had discussed all the communications that had been described during the public hearing. The public had asked the planning commission to expand its scope of consideration, but the planning commission had decided to confine its recommendations to the council’s specific direction.
8:40 p.m. Briere offers her amendments. [.pdf of amendments]
8:42 p.m. Lumm asks to add setback language to the amendments. Briere says she tried to not constrain the planning commission. So she didn’t suggest any side setbacks. She didn’t think front setbacks of 10 feet would benefit all of Huron. She wanted further discussion before accepting Lumm’s suggestions as friendly.
8:43 p.m. Margie Teall (Ward 4) wants to know if Briere would be willing to add Ann Street between Fourth and Fifth to an area for additional consideration. That’s added in a friendly way.
8:45 p.m. Lumm now phrases her suggestion in terms of “considering” changes to the setback.
8:47 p.m. Taylor says he wants to “chat” about the reference to Thayer. He doesn’t think there’s residential there that needs buffering. But he thinks there needs sight-scape buffering to Hill Auditorium, so he’ll support the reference to Thayer.
8:47 p.m. Outcome: Briere’s amendments are approved.
8:50 p.m. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) says there’s been a lot of good and solid work done on this by the planning commission and the public. He says he hopes that the recommendation on residential premiums means that it’s a reduction in the size of the units – as that would speak to the kind of housing that millennials are looking for. He says that the change at the corner of Main and William had been a swift change from the consultant’s initial recommendation. So he wants to keep an eye on that.
8:53 p.m. Taylor offers a specific amendment on the recommendation about the design review board’s role. He says the city needs modest and smart growth. His amendment indicates that the revisions to the design review board process should have the support of the design review board. [This reacts to the public hearing comments by design review board chair Tamara Burns, who said that as things currently stand, the design review board did not want to be the arbiter of the award of premium FAR (floor area ratio).]
8:55 p.m. Briere says that when Taylor said “save (4)” many people understood it as “save for.” Some wordsmithing ensues to ensure Taylor’s amendment does not escape the Oct. 20, 2014 deadline.
8:56 p.m. Hieftje says the design review board has all along not wanted to have mandatory compliance. So he appreciates Taylor’s amendment.
8:58 p.m. Planning manager Wendy Rampson says (4) had originally been drafted to say that there would be mandatory compliance. The planning commission had revised the wording to emphasize there should be a focus on the core design guidelines and improve the process, without making the design review board the gatekeeper to the premiums. She concludes about Taylor’s amendment that “it looks fine.”
9:00 p.m. Kunselman asks Rampson who the gatekeepers to the premiums would be – the planning commission? Rampson said the planning commission had discussed various possibilities. Commissioners were reluctant to make compliance mandatory. They wanted the ability to look at each site as unique. Kunselman ventures that the final arbiter would be the council. Rampson suggests that two paths could be maintained, for site plan and for design review.
9:01 p.m. Petersen asks Rampson to comment on the design review board process and the city’s participation in the state’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program. Would the DRB process prevent RR certification? Rampson said the main thing with RR is that “we have to be clear.”
9:02 p.m. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) talks about the idea that council would be making the judgment as to how close a developer had come to meeting the recommendations: Is that workable? Rampson indicates that this works in other communities.
9:05 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) says that some developers find out what the neighbors want and build that. Others don’t and get pushback.
9:07 p.m. Anglin asks about setbacks. Rampson says that the idea is that the setbacks allow for some flexibility, but the building should continue a pattern if there’s an existing pattern of buildings set forward. The goal was not to crowd the sidewalk, Rampson says.
9:10 p.m. Lumm asks for confirmation about what the planning commission and design review board will be doing. Rampson indicates that she thinks those two groups will be able to chart out a path to work together. Rampson notes that the DRB is not always consistent in its comments. So the DRB is looking for a preliminary meeting, with more informal commentary, followed by a more formal process.
9:11 p.m. Hieftje says he’s always supported mandatory compliance, but says he thinks the amendment Taylor has offered is very thoughtful.
9:11 p.m. Outcome: Taylor’s amendment is approved.
9:15 p.m. Kunselman says he’ll support the resolution. He notes that mandatory compliance can’t be required on a basic project, but it can be required for premiums. He notes that he’d opposed the A2D2 as the only councilmember who did so. He preferred the previous zoning, which was more of a “mosaic,” he says. He echoes the remarks of Eleanor Linn, who’d described how the “density chips” in the planning exercise were dumped on South U: “They definitely were,” he said.
When the zoning was changed in the South University area before A2D2, the council had not been told about the possibility of parcel combinations, Kunselman said. He says the current revisions are implementing corrections to the previous policies and the “lust to build more and more housing.”
9:16 p.m. Briere says she’ll support the resolution and she’d try to influence the outcome on the planning commission based on what she’s heard tonight.
9:19 p.m. Warpehoski says he’ll support this – especially because of the deadline that Briere has added. He hopes that the pieces that are clear can be covered quickly, and that not everything will be held up in order that everything is done before anything is done. He’s glad the process took a look at the southeast corner of William and Main. He said he’d trust the process. He says the corner of Main and Packard is not a place for D-1 zoning.
9:20 p.m. Lumm says she’ll support the resolution. She’s ticking through a list of people she wants to thank. She calls the report and recommendations thorough and clear. The recommendations help address the flaws in the A2D2 zoning that manifested themselves in the 413 E. Huron, she says.
9:23 p.m. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) says she’s glad the council is moving forward with this. She’d attended some of the public outreach meetings. What was said at the meetings was reflected in the report, she says. The council’s work session last week [on economic development] gave her pause, she said. She wants to keep Ann Arbor’s housing stock diverse and affordable.
9:23 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the recommendations, with amendments, to the planning commission for changes to the downtown zoning.
9:23 p.m. Recess. We are now in recess.
9:34 p.m. And we’re back.
9:34 p.m. DB-2 624 Church site plan. The current, revised plan is for a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms. The apartment building would extend to the southeast corner of Willard and Church, where the building’s entrance will be located. Existing buildings at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard would be torn down. [For more detailed background, see 624 Church St. above.]
9:37 p.m. Kailasapathy leads things off. She asks for planning manager Wendy Rampson. Kailasapathy wants to know about the contribution to parks – $72,450 had been requested. The developer had made a smaller contribution. Rampson notes that the parks contribution is voluntary. Brad Moore, the project’s architect, responds. He says that the city staff member had modified the request downward based on the specific parks improvements that the city wanted to undertake.
9:38 p.m. Kailasapathy is now expressing dissatisfaction with the extension option for the contribution-in-lieu parking program that the DDA had granted – three five-year periods past the standard 15 years for parking permits.
9:40 p.m. Executive director of the DDA, Susan Pollay, is describing the usage pattern of the Forest Avenue parking structure, which is heavy during the school year. She ventures that a circulator bus downtown could allow for relocating the permits to a different parking structure sometime in the future. Hieftje notes that the developer is taking advantage of an existing policy.
9:42 p.m. Pollay describes an “experiment” or “pilot” program where parking permits would be granted not on a first-come-first-serve basis but rather to property owners based on square footage. Hieftje elicits the fact that the CIL program requires a 20% premium.
9:42 p.m. Kunselman asks: Is there a wait list? Yes, says Pollay, 325 are on the list, and 153 have joined the list since 2012.
9:43 p.m. Kunselman says the extension of the CIL by three 5-year periods “irks” him.
9:44 p.m. Kunselman asks what the DDA’s discussion was in terms of “fairness.” Pollay said that was the point of the “pilot” program. The DDA had learned that the property owners didn’t want to manage parking permits for their own tenants. Pollay said that the conversation about fairness was ongoing. Kunselman noted that “we’re running out of land over there.”
9:45 p.m. Kunselman wants to know what other developments have contracts for parking permits. How many spaces are available to the public at Forest, he asks?
9:47 p.m. Pollay says the Forest structure has almost 900 spaces, but the UM had been a partner on the expansion of the structure. So just under 590 spaces are available to the public, she says. There are 131 permits now. She explains how the gate arms keep track of public versus the UM usage.
9:50 p.m. Pollay notes that the current monthly permit system is on a month-to-month basis. Kunselman wants to know if the 48 permits would come out of the 131 existing permits. Kunselman elicits the fact that the 48 will jump ahead of line of those on the wait list. Pollay says that many on the wait list may already be parking in the Forest structure on an hourly basis, and having a monthly permit is a matter of convenience.
9:52 p.m. Teall says we keep hearing that for new developments that are built, the residents are going to bring cars. She was not sure that all those spaces would be needed.
9:55 p.m. Lumm says that if a more diverse housing mix is desired, she thinks not all residents would find it convenient to not have a car. She expresses concerns about the lengthened parking agreement. She was glad that flexibility had been built in terms of the location of the structure where they’d be granted. She asks Pollay if this relocation of the permits to a different structure had been a point of discussion with the developer. Yes, says Pollay.
9:55 p.m. Pollay notes that the CIL program had been approved by the council.
9:57 p.m. Lumm is speculating about what kind of people are on the wait list. Lumm and Pollay are in an extended back-and-forth.
9:59 p.m. Lumm says she doesn’t want to see cars parked in the neighborhood if people can’t get into the structure. Hieftje, who lives in the North Burns Park area, responds to Lumm’s remarks by indicating that the residential parking program is effective in preventing people from storing the cars on the streets. Hieftje ventures that if the council wants to review the CIL program, it should do that separate from this project.
10:00 p.m. Kailasapathy responds to Hieftje by saying that the 15-year extension was outside the CIL policy. She calls this a case of “externalization of costs.”
10:03 p.m. Taylor says he’ll support the proposal, because it conforms with the zoning requirements. It would add useful residential units, he says. Previously the area had been challenged and desolate and it’s no longer so, he says. On the parking permit issue, he allows that fairness is an issue, but says he’s relying on the DDA to take a longer view of managing the demand of the parking system. On the parking spaces, Taylor says: “They’re being used by Ann Arbor residents, they just don’t live here, yet.”
10:04 p.m. Kunselman asks if the DDA has looked at subsidizing lower-income students for their parking. Pollay says that the DDA’s strategy has been to make as many options available as possible and to let people choose.
10:06 p.m. Kunselman asks if the monthly permits allow someone to park 24/7. Yes, Pollay says. That’s a problem, Kunselman says.
10:07 p.m. Kunselman asks if long-term parking had been explored for people to park at a satellite lot for storage parking. Pollay says a pilot had been done at Fingerle to explore the idea of “storage parking.” There had not been many takers, she says.
10:08 p.m. Kunselman ventures that D-1 and D-2 are parking exempt. Rampson explains that for residential use and premiums, parking can be required for the larger buildings that result from premium FAR.
10:09 p.m. Kunselman asks the city attorney what happens if the council amends the development agreement. Assistant city attorney Kevin McDonald suggests that the council should make changes in its resolved clauses of its resolution.
10:11 p.m. Kunselman asks for the developer to come to the podium: Will that be a deal breaker? Yes, says Sean Spellman with The Opus Group. The national lending market has spoken, he says.
10:12 p.m. Spellman notes that for the extended term of the CIL, the location of the parking structure where the permits would be granted wouldn’t necessarily be the Forest parking structure.
10:13 p.m. Kunselman says: “Your financing is not my concern.”
10:14 p.m. Kunselman says that all these years he’s participated in this kind of process, he’s always told citizens that the council is voting on the zoning, not the financing, and it’s up to the developer to put the financing together.
10:16 p.m. Spellman says that the council could move the spaces wherever it wants, but he really needs the extension. Kunselman says that if the project can’t get financing without the parking, then maybe it’s too big. “The DDA rolled over for ya,” he says.
10:17 p.m. Kunselman also contends that the DDA doesn’t sign contracts, and the developer would have to go to the bank with a DDA resolution, not a contract. Kunselman says that he’d be content not to have any parking required for the project.
10:20 p.m. Briere is now reviewing with the developer the availability of spaces in Forest structure. Pollay is reviewing how a monthly parking permit is not transferable, and cannot be sublet.
10:22 p.m. Petersen asks Rampson if the developer could meet the parking requirement by providing Zipcar spaces. Rampson reviews the lessons learned from The Varsity project, and noted that Zipcar doesn’t necessarily accept locations on a private site.
10:25 p.m. Kunselman now offers an amendment to the resolution. The added resolved clause says that the development agreement is to be renegotiated to eliminate the designation of the Forest parking structure and the three 5-year extensions.
10:26 p.m. Teall appreciates the sentiment of Kunselman’s amendment. She wishes there were more parking in the South University area. But she doesn’t think Kunselman’s amendment is practical.
10:28 p.m. Hieftje says he understands the financing issue. He also understands the value of the additional units. He calls Kunselman’s amendment a “poison pill” for the development.
10:29 p.m. Hieftje says that the DDA has thought deeply about this issue and knows more about the parking system than the council does. McDonald suggests that the word “negotiate” should be eliminated from the amendment, because it’s just council’s direction to be followed and nothing would be “negotiated.”
10:30 p.m. Lumm wants the question divided. Designation of the Forest parking structure is one question. The three 5-year extensions are a separate question.
10:34 p.m. First up is the location of the permits. Briere asks Pollay if she understood the amendment to mean that the spaces couldn’t be assigned in the Forest structure. Pollay says the message she is taking away is that the council doesn’t want the spaces assigned in Forest. Eaton says the question should go to Kunselman as to what his intent is. Kunselman says he doesn’t mind if they’re assigned in Forest – and he wants the DDA to have the flexibility to assign them wherever it deems suitable.
10:36 p.m. Petersen and Pollay discuss 10 of the parking permits in use currently by Pizza House.
10:37 p.m. Lumm wants to know if there are implications for the developer’s ability to satisfy the premium requirements.
10:41 p.m. Taylor asks if the location of the parking spaces has an implication for the financing. Spellman indicates the assumption is that the majority percentage would be in Forest. Taylor indicates that he thinks the DDA has already indicated that the spaces are available in Forest. Petersen notes that the council had approved 40 spaces in conjunction with the previous version of the project.
10:43 p.m. Outcome on location amendment: The amendment fails with support only from Kunselman, Eaton, Anglin and Kailasapathy.
10:44 p.m. Now up is the question of three 5-year term extensions.
10:44 p.m. Lumm says she’ll support the amendment, saying she’s not sure why the DDA agreed to the extensions.
10:45 p.m. Hieftje brings Spellman back to the podium. He gets clarification that Opus needs the “capacity” to extend the term for the permits for 30 years. The location for that entire period is not important.
10:46 p.m. About the chances for getting financing without the 30-year term, Spellman says: “It’s zero.”
10:47 p.m. Eaton asks if the project could get financing if the project was parking-exempt. Spellman indicates that if the project were exempt, then it would already be zoning-compliant.
10:50 p.m. Briere wonders what the expectation was for a building becoming compliant with zoning in year 16. McDonald says the policy was to require a minimum for 15 years. The 20% additional payment is to provide an enhancement to the parking system, McDonald says. He notes that the banks are concerned that the building could become out of compliance. He says it was the city that came up with the 15-year requirement.
10:53 p.m. Lumm says that it could kill the project without this parking agreement. McDonald says that the conversations with the developer have been extensive. He points out that the DDA’s initial response to the request of a 15-year extension was to reject that in favor of three 5-year extendable terms.
10:55 p.m. Warpehoski raises a point of order so the council can vote to start its closed session after 11 p.m. The council votes to suspend the rule.
10:56 p.m. Taylor says that it’s “nonsensical” to deny the permits, knowing it would stop the project. “This makes no sense to me,” he says.
10:59 p.m. Kunselman ventures that the previous project was apparently financeable without the parking permit extensions. He says the project won’t get killed because the amendment would be voted down. But afterwards, he would be bringing forth a proposal to kill the CIL program. Hieftje ventures that the vote could go toward killing it.
10:59 p.m. Outcome on amendment on the parking permit extensions: The amendment fails.
11:00 p.m. Lumm worries about eating away at the capacity of the parking system.
11:02 p.m. Petersen says she voted no on Kunselman’s amendment, but wants the CIL program re-examined. She hopes it can be “Zipcar in lieu of parking.” Kunselman said he had no intention, coming into the meeting, of raising these issues, but as he listened, he thought that the fairness issue was important. He allows that the developer might have found the council’s discussion to be scary. “I’m sorry if I scared you, but as we work this through, that’s what we do.”
11:04 p.m. Briere says she’ll bring up this issue with the planning commission, as the CIL program is related to D-1 and premiums. She allows that many in the community would advocate for requiring a developer to provide parking for tenants. The issue needs to be considered carefully, she says.
11:05 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the site plan for 624 Church St.
11:06 p.m. DB-3 Approve amendment to the contract with Aaron Seagraves as public art administrator ($18,500). This resolution would extend Seagraves’ contract by six months – through June 30, 2014 – and to add $18,500 to his compensation to cover the added term. A total of $20,500 would be appropriated from the balance in the public art fund, with the additional money to cover various expenses. Seagraves is contracted to work an average of 20 hours a week. [For more detailed background, see Public Art Administrator above.]
11:08 p.m. Eaton says he can’t support a continuation of spending funds that were accumulated under the former Percent for Art program. Kailasapathy says that the money in the public art fund balances should be returned to the funds of origin. Lumm notes that she’s previously said she wouldn’t support continued spending of public art money. Her resolution to return about $800,000 to the funds of origin had failed several months ago. She says a “clean break” should be made between the current program and the old program.
11:09 p.m. By the end of 2013, Lumm says, the council was supposed to have a description of the new program. Based on Bob Miller’s remarks that night, Lumm says that it doesn’t appear that has happened.
11:11 p.m. Petersen is getting clarification about what the status of the funds is.
11:12 p.m. Hieftje says that pretty much nothing happens without a staff member. A lot of citizens have put in a lot of time on a lot of projects that are in the works, he says. He asks Bob Miller, chair of the public art commission, if any of the projects could go forward without an art administrator. Miller says: No. Without an art administrator, the public art commission couldn’t function, he says.
11:14 p.m. Petersen says she thinks that money from the streets millage should be returned to that fund. But she sees the need for a public art administrator. This is the last extension of his contract, she says. After this, part of the public art administrator’s job is to raise private funding.
11:17 p.m. Briere is getting an estimate from public services area administrator Craig Hupy of the likelihood of having a private funding mechanism in place by June. Hupy is describing a model where a nonprofit would be formed outside of the city. He ventures that the wastewater treatment facility art project would have 50% private support.
11:20 p.m. Briere says that the idea of leaving the money in the public art fund was to use some of that as a bridge to the new model. She was concerned about how long that might take. She says she thinks an administrator is needed for the next few months, but she didn’t want to see the contract extension for much longer.
11:24 p.m. Kunselman is asking questions about the projects in the works. Hupy says that the East Stadium Bridges artwork had run into some issues with the sustainability of the materials and some modifications had been made. That would come back to the public for review. Kunselman says that he’d made a commitment to following through on the transition. At some point, he allowed, the council has to pull the plug. He felt that the projects left over from the Percent for Art program were a drag on the ability of the city to transition to the new program. Kunselman says it’s also unfair to Seagraves to be subjected to a contract renewal every six months.
11:26 p.m. Eaton suggests a postponement on the contract extension, and that it be brought back with a simultaneous proposal to revise the ordinance to allow the return of money to the funds of origin. Kunselman says if all the money is put back, you can’t pay for the art.
11:27 p.m. Hiefte gets clarification about Eaton’s intent, which is to provide enough money to fund an administrator, but to return the other public art money to the funds of origin.
11:28 p.m. Eaton’s motion to postpone nearly fails for lack of a second. Briere offers the second.
11:31 p.m. Briere ventures that an ordinance can’t be changed in one meeting – because it requires a first and second reading. Hieftje says a resolution could be introduced to direct the preparation of ordinance language. Kunselman asks what the ordinance amendment would do. Answer: It would allow the return of the money to the funds of origin.
11:32 p.m. Warpehoski ventures that the compromise he’s hearing is to take the amorphous wind-down time period of the old public art program and give it some additional structure. Petersen says she doesn’t think the vote needs to be postponed.
11:34 p.m. By way of background here, it requires 8 votes.
11:37 p.m. Eaton is saying that he wants a quid pro quo, a vote in support of the contract extension in exchange for a commitment to return the money to the funds of origin.
11:37 p.m. Teall says she’s not willing to make the deal Eaton is proposing. She says there was not an agreement to end the public art program, but rather to transition to a new approach. She’s disappointed that no nonprofit has been found to take the lead on the private funding component. She says she’ll support the contract tonight.
11:39 p.m. Kunselman says he’ll support the postponement because it continues the dialogue and gives Eaton some time. He appreciates Teall’s sentiments, but says there are other areas that have needs. He compares providing parking for wealthy students in the public parking structure, with a tent out on Stone School Road where people are trying to keep warm. Hieftje says there’s not a single dollar in the public art fund that could be used for human services.
11:41 p.m. Anglin says that art projects that people can actually see would have a positive impact. Anglin supports the postponement.
11:42 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone extending Seagraves’ contract as public art administrator. Sole dissent came from Teall.
11:42 p.m. DS-1 Waldenwood sidewalk ($6,818). The resolution would authorize the construction budget for a sidewalk from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward – to connect to a path leading the rest of the way to the King Elementary School. The council had already authorized $10,000 for the design and public process budget at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting. A small amount of that was spent. To cover the $16,000 construction cost, an additional $6,818 of general fund money is being requested tonight. [For more detailed background, see Sidewalks: Waldenwood above.]
11:43 p.m. Petersen says she had the same impression as the speaker during public commentary – that the resolution dealt also with the location of the crosswalk. But the crosswalk location is not a part of the resolution. She proposes an amendment to make that clear.
11:46 p.m. Lumm adds that in the many conversations about the sidewalk, concerns had been raised about previous studies. She refers to this email: [email from Mellor]
11:47 p.m. Lumm says she thinks that a sidewalk will provide a good location for kids to be dropped off.
11:47 p.m. Outcome: The amendment proposed by Petersen is approved.
11:49 p.m. Petersen now wants to know how a decision would be made to change the location of the crosswalk if it were changed. Pat Cawley, a project manager for the city, is explaining the process to go through moving a crosswalk in the future.
11:50 p.m. Petersen wants to make sure that the King Elementary School families would have an opportunity to provide feedback on the change to a crosswalk location.
11:52 p.m. Lumm says she thinks all the issues that had previously been raised had been addressed. Lumm inquires about the feedback form from a previous meeting.
11:55 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the Waldenwood sidewalk construction budget.
11:55 p.m. DS-2 Special assessment resolution #1 for Pontiac Trail sidewalk. This is the first of four steps in the process to impose a special assessment on property owners for a sidewalk on the east side of Pontiac Trail, between Skydale and Dhu Varren Road. The project would also construct a concrete curb and gutter northward from Skydale about 920 feet along the east side of Pontiac Trail and about 1,030 feet along the west side of Pontiac Trail. Those stretches currently don’t have a curb and gutter. [For more detailed background, see Sidewalks: Pontiac Trail above.]
11:57 p.m. Briere explains why the sidewalk is only on one side: It’s not anticipated that there will be demand. If the property owners on the other side in the township are annexed into the city, a sidewalk on that side might be added.
11:58 p.m. Kunselman asked if the city was going to be contributing some percent of the cost. Hupy says there’s no federal or state dollars involved. Kunselman says he has an amendment.
11:59 p.m. Kunselman wants 80% of the cost to be borne by the city. He doesn’t think it’s OK to sometimes provide a portion of the cost and sometimes not – for other projects that are special-assessed.
12:02 a.m. Warpehoski asks for explanation from Hupy about other projects. Hupy explains that for some other projects, state or federal funding is available. Warpehoski ventures that Kunselman’s amendment would establish a new precedent of the city providing funding.
12:05 a.m. Nick Hutchinson, a project manager for the city, clarifies that there would be eight property owners affected by the special assessment.
12:07 a.m. Hieftje agrees with Warpehoski that it would not set a good precedent for a way to fill sidewalk gaps.
12:11 a.m. Kunselman is asking for an estimate for the cost. Hutchinson ventures that it’d be $45,000 for 920 feet. Kunselman stresses that it’s the first step in the special assessment process and doesn’t commit the city. The issue is to let the people know that the city is thinking about them. He says that Pontiac Trail should have federal dollars available and thinks that the city should wait until federal funds are available. Hutchinson says that the surface transportation program is for major streets and Pontiac is a major street, so it’s eligible.
12:13 a.m. Hutchinson says it would be at least 2018 before federal money might be available.
12:13 a.m. Kunselman says it’s an issue of fairness – because Ward 3 residents with a Stone School project would have their project funded with federal monies, but Pontiac Trail wouldn’t. What he’s proposing is to resolve the fairness issue with city dollars.
12:14 a.m. Lumm is concerned about setting a precedent.
12:16 a.m. Hieftje speaks to the issue of fairness by saying that special assessment is the standard way to finance sidewalk construction and always has been.
12:17 a.m. Briere says her immediate reaction to Kunselman’s amendment was to be intrigued by it. It seems to indicate a commitment by the council to filling sidewalk gaps. But Briere says that if the council determines the fallback position is that the city would pay 80%, then she fears that very few sidewalk gaps would be filled.
12:19 a.m. Briere notes that she’s going to a meeting of property owners tomorrow night with property owners on Newport Road who actually want to pay for construction of a new sidewalk.
12:20 a.m. Kunselman notes that Chapter 13, governing special assessment, has been on the books but sidewalks gaps have persisted. Any neighborhood that doesn’t have sidewalks will have this process applied, he contends.
12:21 a.m. Kunselman says we need to show some empathy for taxpayers instead of just saying that the city is going to assess them for a sidewalk.
12:24 a.m. Briere asks Hupy to comment on funding proposals for filling sidewalk gaps.
12:25 a.m. Outcome: Kunselman’s amendment fails with support from only Eaton, Kunselman and Anglin.
12:25 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct the city administrator to prepare plans, specifications and a cost estimate for the Pontiac Trail sidewalk project.
12:25 a.m. DS-3 Approve contract with Transmap Corporation Data Collection Services for the sign inventory and pavement assessment project ($272,490). According to the memo accompanying this resolution, the city needs to do a sign inventory and pavement assessment to meet federal regulations. It will also use the result of the work to improve efficiency in operations and maintenance, capital improvements planning and integrate the results with an asset maintenance management system. According to the memo, both projects – the pavement assessment and sign inventory – can be achieved for about the same cost as each would have cost over the next three years: “By approving the resolution, the City is using technology and market place changes to generate savings.”
12:26 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Transmap Corporation Data Collection Services.
12:26 a.m. DS-4 Approve a five-year lease to University of Michigan for city-owned property behind 926 Mary Street ($4,000 annually). The University of Michigan currently leases the 12-15 parking spaces for $225 per month, which translates to an annual cost of $2,700. The lease hasn’t been renewed or re-evaluated since approval of the month-to-month terms by city council in 1987.
12:26 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the lease with the University of Michigan for the city-owned property on Mary Street.
12:28 a.m. Communications from council. Kunselman says that streetlights on Packard have been repaired all the way from Jewett to Stone School, so he thanks DTE. He also recognizes Seth Best and Caleb Poirer (who are here in the audience) for their cooperation, saying that they’d given assurances that the tent on Stone School Road would be taken down because it’s not in conformance with city code.
12:28 a.m. Clerk’s report of communications, petitions and referrals. Clerk’s report is received.
12:28 a.m. Public comment general time. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary. No one speaks.
12:29 a.m. Closed session. The council votes to go into closed session for discussion of land acquisition and pending litigation.
1:10 a.m. We’re back.
1:10 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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