Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s March 17, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. The intent is to facilitate easier navigation from the live updates section to background material already in this file.
The Ann Arbor city council’s March 17, 2014 meeting features an agenda with one significant item held over from the March 3 meeting: a resolution that reserves a portion of the surface of the Library Lane underground parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor for an urban park that would remain publicly owned.
But related to that item is a new resolution that directs the city administrator to move toward listing for sale the development rights for the top of the parking structure. The urban park designation was postponed from the March 3, 2014 meeting in part to synch up its timing with this resolution, which is being brought forward by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).
An additional related item is a resolution that would waive the attorney-client privilege on a document prepared by Dykema Gossett, the city’s outside bond counsel. The Build America Bonds used to finance construction of the Library Lane structure have private-use limitations on facilities constructed with financing from such bonds. The Dykema memo analyzes those limitations with respect to Library Lane.
That’s one of two separate resolutions on the waiver of attorney-client privilege. The other one, postponed from the council’s March 3 meeting, would waive privilege on a city attorney memo dated Feb. 25, 2014 on the topic of how appeals to property assessments work. The memo apparently helps explain “… the effect of a reduction of the assessment for one year by the Board of Review and/or the Michigan Tax Tribunal on the property tax assessment for the subsequent year.” The council’s agenda also includes an attachment of a report sent to the state tax commission, explaining how the city has complied with various deficiencies in documentation identified previously by the commission.
The council will be considering two items related to energy issues. First, the council will consider a resolution that directs the city’s energy commission and staff to convene a stakeholder work group, with the support of the city attorney’s office, to draft a commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. It’s an effort to help achieve goals in the city’s climate action plan.
The second energy-related item is a resolution that would direct the city administrator to hire an additional staff member for the city’s energy office, bringing the total back to two people, according to the resolution. The energy office staffer would “create and implement additional community energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy programs that further the Climate Action Plan’s adopted targets.”
After approving the purchase of 18 replacement vehicles on March 3 and several pieces of basic equipment at its Feb. 18 meeting, the council will be considering three resolutions that involve additional vehicles and equipment: two forklifts for the city’s materials recovery facility, a Chevrolet Impala for use by police detectives, and a lease for golf carts from Pifer Inc.
The 15th District Court, which is the responsibility of the city of Ann Arbor, is featured in two agenda items. The council will be asked to approve a $160,000 contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office for weapons screening services for the 15th District Court, which is housed at the Justice Center – the police/courts building immediately adjoining city hall at the northeast corner of Huron and Fifth.
A second item related to the court is an introduction of Shryl Samborn as the new administrator of the 15th District Court. Samborn is currently deputy administrator. Current administrator Keith Zeisloft is retiring. His last day of work is March 28.
At its March 17 meeting, the council will also be asked to approve the temporary relocation of Precinct 1-7 from Pierpont Commons, 2101 Bonisteel, to Northwood Community Center (family housing). That relocation will be in effect for the May 6 vote on the transit millage and for the Aug. 5 primary elections.
Among the items attached to the March 17 agenda as reports or communications is one from the city administrator noting that for the April 5 Hash Bash event on the University of Michigan campus, all sidewalk occupancy permits and peddler’s licenses in the immediately surrounding area will be suspended. The possibility of such suspension – which the city administrator’s memo indicates is motivated by a desire to relieve congestion – is part of the terms and conditions of such licenses. They’ve been suspended for Hash Bash for at least the last six years, according to the memo.
Also among the attachments are the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s annual reports for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Those reports have been the subject of back-and-forth between Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and The Ann Arbor Observer over a report in The Observer’s December edition. A follow-up to an initial correction by The Observer is anticipated in the April edition – establishing that Kunselman’s contention had been correct: The DDA annual reports had not been filed with the governing body as required.
The consent agenda also includes approval of street closings for seven upcoming events: a soap box derby, SpringFest, Cinco de Mayo, Burns Park Run, Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, Washington Street Live and the Mayor’s Green Fair.
This report 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 Monday 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.
Top of Library Lane
The council’s March 17 meeting features three items related to the future development of the surface of the Library Lane underground parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor: (1) a resolution reserving part of the surface for a publicly owned urban park; (2) a resolution that moves toward hiring a brokerage service for selling development rights to the surface; and (3) a resolution that waives attorney-client privilege on a memo from the city’s outside bond counsel.
Top of Library Lane: Urban Park
A significant item was postponed from the council’s March 3, 2014 meeting: a resolution that reserves a portion of the surface of the Library Lane parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor for an urban park that would remain publicly owned.
The proposal was also presented to the city’s park advisory commission, the week before the March 3 council meeting. For a detailed report of the Feb. 25 PAC meeting, see Chronicle coverage: “Concerns Voiced over Urban Park Proposal.”
One of the central points of friction over how to proceed is the question of who will own the space on which the publicly accessible land – a park or plaza – is located.
The proposal put forward to PAC by Will Hathaway, of the Library Green Conservancy, and incorporated into the resolution to be considered by the council envisions a publicly-owned facility that is designated as a park in the city’s park planning documents. That would make it subject to a charter requirement on its sale – which would require a public referendum.
Councilmembers who are open to the possibility that the publicly accessible facility could be privately owned are concerned about the cost of maintenance. The city’s costs for maintaining Liberty Plaza – an urban park located northeast of the proposed Library Lane public park – are about $13,000 a year. That doesn’t include the amount that First Martin Corp. expends for trash removal and other upkeep of Liberty Plaza. [Urban park cost estimates]
Revisions to the resolution were undertaken since the council meeting on March 3. The now revised resolution – “version 3” in the city’s Legistar system – indicates that the area designated as a park would be 12,000 square feet, compared to 10,000 square feet in the original resolution. That square footage reflects the actual dimensions of the proposed boundaries, according to a staff memo. The revised resolution also eliminates an October 2014 deadline for making design recommendations to the council, and deletes any reference to PAC. [.pdf of revised resolution for March 17 council meeting]
The memo accompanying the revised resolution describes the changes as follows:
- Square Footage and Boundaries. The first resolved clause is modified to reflect the information we received from City staff regarding the dimensions of the area. A site plan from staff showed the accurate square footage of the area to be designated as urban park as approximately 12,000 square feet.
- Encouragement of Creative Public Programming. The second resolved clause text is now clearer that the various City government offices and the DDA are being asked to give thought to how they can encourage other groups to reserve the space on the Library Lane structure and put on creative public events.
- Integration of Park Design with Adjacent Development. The third resolved clause is an acknowledgement that the two spaces should be designed to complement each other and that the City will play a leadership role in making that integration occur.
- Activation of the Public Park through Integration with the Block. The fourth resolved clause acknowledges the necessity for the City to work with all the neighboring property owners on the Library Block in order to achieve the pedestrian connectivity that will result in vital, attractive public spaces. The text has been modified to clarify that reorientation need not entail major redevelopment.
- Process for Creation of the Public Park and Development of the Remaining Library Lane Site. The resolved clauses that spelled out specific next steps have been removed from the resolution. The assumption now is that these respective City government bodies will move forward autonomously to accomplish these tasks.
An additional point of friction involves how much of the site would be left for development if the northwest corner of the site is devoted to a public plaza/park. Related to that issue is whether the existing northern border of the site – which currently features the sides and backs of buildings – can adequately support a public plaza/park. The fact that the site does not currently enjoy other surrounding buildings that face toward it is part of the reason advocates for a park are now asking that the Ann Arbor District Library, located to the south of the site, relocate its entrance from Fifth Avenue to the north side of its building.
In terms of the color-shaded map produced by city staff, the focus of controversy is the light orange area, which was designed to support “medium density building.” Based on staff responses to councilmember questions, the density imagined for that orange rectangle could be transferred to the planned high-density (red) portion of the site. The maximum height in the D1 zoning area is 180 feet, and the parking structure was designed to accommodate the structural load of an 18-story building.
Top of Library Lane: Brokerage Services
Related to the urban park item is a new resolution with the title: “Resolution to Direct City Administrator to List for Sale 319 South Fifth and to Retain Real Estate Brokerage Services.” That’s the address of the Library Lane underground parking structure.
The urban park designation was postponed from the March 3, 2014 meeting in part to synch up its timing with this resolution, which is being brought forward by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).
This approach would be similar to the path the city council took to sell the former Y lot. For that parcel, the council directed the city administrator to move toward hiring a real estate broker to test the market for development rights. The council took the initial step with that property, located on William between Fourth and Fifth avenues in downtown Ann Arbor, close to a year ago at its March 4, 2013 meeting.
The council gave final approval to the sale – to hotelier Dennis Dahlmann for $5.25 million – on Nov. 28, 2013. That sale is now set to close on April 2, according to city administrator Steve Powers, who responded on March 12 to an emailed query from The Chronicle.
A rider agreement – to ensure against non-development and to sketch out the amount of open space and density – was part of the approach the city took to the former Y lot deal with Dahlmann.
The issue of open space figures prominently in Kunselman’s resolution. A key “whereas” clause and three of the “resolved” clauses read as follows:
Whereas, Developing the public space at the same time the site is developed will provide for increased activity, safety, and security; limit nuisance behavior at this public space; provide potential funding for public space features and programming; and have a responsible private entity for ongoing maintenance and
Resolved, That City Council deems the highest and best use for the property located at 319 South Fifth (Library Lane) to be mixed-use consisting of commercial, residential, and public use.
Resolved, That the City will seek, as conditions for development rights at a minimum, public open space, private maintenance of the public space, and pedestrian access to the public space as features of any private development;
Resolved, That implementation of the conditions for development rights will be determined by City Council through selection of the purchase offer that best responds to mixed-use, density, integration with surrounding uses, and public space and through the City’s established site plan procedures and policies;
Also related to the council’s agenda item about hiring a brokerage service to sell development rights to the Library Lane surface, the Ann Arbor planning commission agenda for March 18, 2014 now includes a resolution giving advice to the council about how to handle that sale. The two resolved clauses are:
Resolved, that the City Planning Commission recommends to City Council that if the development rights over the “Library Lot” underground parking structure are sold, an RFQ/RFP process be utilized that conditions the sale of the property in order to obtain a long-term, ongoing and growing economic benefit for the residents of the city;
Resolved, that the City Planning Commission recommends to City Council that if the development rights over the “Library Lot” underground parking structure are sold, an RFP contain some or all of the following conditions:
- A building that generates foot traffic, provides a human scale at the ground floor and creates visual appeal and contains active uses on all first floor street frontage and open space;
- A requirement for an entry plaza or open space appropriately scaled and located to be properly activated by adjacent building uses and to be maintained by the developer;
- A “mixed use” development with a density at around 700% FAR that takes advantage of the investment in footings and the mid-block location with active uses that have a high level of transparency fronting the plaza and at least 60% of Fifth Avenue and Library Lane frontages, while encouraging large floor plate office or lodging as a primary use, residential as a secondary use, and incorporating a cultural venue.
- A requirement for the entry plaza or open space to incorporate generous landscaping;
- A requirement that discourages surface parking, limits vehicular access for service areas to be located in alleys where available and prohibits service areas from being located on Fifth Avenue
- To seek an iconic design for this site that is visible on all four sides and that creates an iconic addition to the skyline;
- A requirement for high quality construction; and
- A request for a third party environmental certification (e.g., LEED Gold or Platinum)
The resolution is being brought forward by planning commissioners Diane Giannola and Bonnie Bona. It’s similar in intent to the recommendation that the commission gave to council regarding the sale of the former Y lot.
Top of Library Lane: Bond Counsel
An item also related to the future development of the area above the Library Lane structure is a resolution that would waive the attorney-client privilege on a document prepared by Dykema Gossett, city’s outside bond counsel. The Build America Bonds used to finance construction of the Library Lane project have private-use limitations on facilities constructed with financing from such bonds. The Dykema memo apparently analyzes those limitations with respect to Library Lane.
In broad strokes, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 – also known as the stimulus act – created the Build America Bonds program. BAB authorized state and local governments to issue taxable bonds to finance any capital expenditures for which they otherwise could issue tax-exempt governmental bonds. The bonds have a limitation related to how the facilities financed through such bonds can be used. Glossing over details, only up to 10% of a facility financed through BAB can be dedicated to private use.
Related to the private use question are monthly parking permits. All other things being equal, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – which manages Ann Arbor’s public parking system under an arrangement with the city – does not contract with businesses for monthly parking permits in public parking structures. Instead, the DDA contracts with individuals on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For the Library Lane structure, the DDA offered introductory pricing of its monthly permits to encourage the structure’s initial use. Construction was completed in the summer of 2012. And the nature of that introductory pricing scheme could prompt questions about whether some of those permits might properly count as “private use” of the structure. A $95 introductory rate (which reflects a $50 savings over most other structures) was offered to employees of “new to downtown businesses” and to permit holders in the Maynard or Liberty Square parking structures who were willing to transfer their permit to Library Lane. The pricing is good through August 2014.
Two years ago, Barracuda Networks was moving to downtown Ann Arbor, and therefore qualified as a “new to downtown” business. So its employees thus qualified for the discounted monthly parking permits.
In a July 13, 2012 email to Ward 2 councilmember Jane Lumm, DDA executive director Susan Pollay wrote in part:
I met with the two key individuals directing the Ann Arbor Barracuda office and told them point blank, that that there will be parking for Barracuda employees now when they move to downtown, and as they grow their employee ranks over the next few years.
To the extent that Barracuda employees (or employees of other downtown businesses) have privileged access or enjoy an economic advantage (like reduced rates), then it’s possible the private use test could be met for those spaces.
Four years ago, Wayne State University professor of law Noah Hall, writing on behalf of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC), sent the city of Ann Arbor a letter on the BAB private-use issue. [For more detail, see his letter: April 14, 2010 letter from Noah Hall] GLELC was a party to a lawsuit filed over the Library Lane parking structure, which eventually was settled.
The document for which the council might vote to waive attorney-client privilege on March 17 appears to be one of the items denied in a response to a request made by The Chronicle under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. The item not provided to The Chronicle was a file attached to an email sent by CFO Tom Crawford on Aug. 13, 2012 to councilmembers – named “BHO 1-# 1607254-v8-Ann_Arbor _ -_Memo_re_Permitted_Parking_Arrangements.docx.” The request for that document was denied based on the statutory exemption allowed for items protected under attorney-client privilege.
However, members of the city council’s audit committee have placed a resolution on the council’s March 17 agenda to waive attorney-client privilege on the document in question. [For additional background, see: "Column: Rocking Back on the Library Lot."]
The outside bond counsel’s memo on the use of Build America Bonds is not the only item on the March 17 agenda involving the waiver of attorney-client privilege. The other one, postponed from the council’s March 3 meeting, would waive privilege on a city attorney memo dated Feb. 25, 2014 on the topic of how appeals to property assessments work.
The memo apparently helps explain “… the effect of a reduction of the assessment for one year by the Board of Review and/or the Michigan Tax Tribunal on the property tax assessment for the subsequent year.”
The memo may help explain how one section of Michigan’s General Property Tax Act is properly interpreted and applied:
211.30c Reduced amount as basis for calculating assessed value or taxable value in succeeding year; applicability of section.
Sec. 30c. (1) If a taxpayer has the assessed value or taxable value reduced on his or her property as a result of a protest to the board of review under section 30, the assessor shall use that reduced amount as the basis for calculating the assessment in the immediately succeeding year. However, the taxable value of that property in a tax year immediately succeeding a transfer of ownership of that property is that property’s state equalized valuation in the year following the transfer as calculated under this section.
In Chart 1 below, a homeowner purchased the property in 2006 for $227,000. It was assessed at market value of $281,600, or $140,800 state equalized value. On appeal to the board of review in 2007, the assessed value was reduced to $113,500. In 2008, the 2007 assessed value does not appear to have been used as the basis for calculating the assessment.
Also related to the issue of tax assessment, the March 17 agenda includes an attachment of a report sent to the state tax commission by city assessor David Petrak, explaining how the city has complied with various deficiencies in documentation identified previously by the commission. Among the notes in the letter was an issue that’s become a routine point of council meeting public commentary for Ann Arbor resident Ed Vielmetti – the timely filing of meeting minutes by various boards and commissions. From Petrak’s report to the tax commission:
Concern #2: Board of Review prepared minutes were not filed with the local unit clerk
Response: On February 18th 2014 the Board of Review minutes were officially filed with and recorded by The City Clerk. Staff will insure all future minutes are similarly recorded in a timely fashion.
The council will be considering two items related to energy issues: (1) a resolution directing the drafting of an energy disclosure ordinance; and (2) a resolution calling for a staff position to be filled.
Energy: Resolution on Development of Energy Disclosure for Commercial Buildings
The council will consider a resolution that directs the city’s energy commission and staff to convene a stakeholder work group, with the support of the city attorney’s office, to draft a commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. Such an ordinance would require owners of commercial buildings to disclose data on energy consumption by their buildings. It’s an effort to help achieve goals in the city’s climate action plan, which was approved by the city council at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting. Ann Arbor’s climate action plan calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 8% by 2015, 25% by 2025, and 90% by 2050. Baseline for the reductions are 2000 levels.
The resolution on the council’s March 17 agenda originated with the city’s energy commission. The staff memo compares the idea of a disclosure requirement for energy usage by commercial buildings to a miles-per-gallon rating for vehicles or nutritional facts labeling for food products. According to the memo, awareness of energy consumption has been shown to encourage building owners to have energy audits done on their buildings. Those audits can then lead to energy efficiency upgrades that result in cost savings to the building owners and reduced emissions.
An estimate for the potential energy cost savings that would result from an energy benchmarking ordinance in Ann Arbor – prepared by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) – is between $2 million and $2.5 million, annually. According to the staff memo, similar ordinances in place in other cities typically employed a phased approach, often with municipal buildings as well as the largest private buildings (by square footage) complying in the initial year(s), and medium-sized and/or smaller buildings participating in later years.
The energy commission is recommending that an ordinance be developed with a phased approach, with the phases based on building categories and sizes. One possibility is to start with all qualifying municipal buildings in the first six months, commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet in 12 to 18 months, multifamily and commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet in 24 to 36 months, and all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet in 36 to 48 months. The goal would be to have reported energy consumption information for 80% of the commercial square feet in the city within five years of adoption.
Energy: Resolution on Energy Office Staff
The second energy-related item on the March 17 council agenda is a resolution that would direct the city administrator to hire an additional staff member for the city’s energy office, bringing the total back to two people, according to the resolution.
The energy office staffer would “create and implement additional community energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy programs that further the Climate Action Plan’s adopted targets.” Among the specific efforts cited in the resolution are the city’s property assessed clean energy (PACE) program.
At its March 4, 2014 meeting, the city’s planning commission passed a resolution in support of the hiring. Planning commissioners were briefed on the issue by Wayne Appleyard, chair of the energy commission. Resolutions of support were also passed by the city’s energy and environmental commissions.
After approving the purchase of 18 replacement vehicles on March 3 and several pieces of basic equipment at its Feb. 18 meeting, the council will be considering three resolutions that involve additional vehicles and equipment: two forklifts for the city’s materials recovery facility, a Chevrolet Impala for use by police detectives, and a lease for golf carts from Pifer Inc.
The council will be asked to approve the purchase of two Clark C30 forklifts for use at the city’s materials recovery facility (MRF) for a total of $55,268.
The forklifts to be purchased would replace two that are currently being rented at a cost of $12,000 a year. The city is calculating that the purchase cost will be covered by savings in rental costs in 2.3 years.
On the council’s March 17 agenda is the approval of the purchase of a police detective vehicle – a Chevrolet Impala – from Berger Chevrolet in Oakland County for $26,750. The car will replace a vehicle that in the next year will have reached an 80,000-mile limit specified in the city’s labor contract.
Wheels: Golf Carts
The council will be asked to approve an amendment to a two-year golf cart lease with Pifer Inc. The agreement would increase the original number of 65 leased carts by 34 carts, for a total of 99 carts. The city leases golf carts from Pifer for the Huron Hills and Leslie Park golf courses.
The lease amendment would be for two years, for an amount not to exceed $50,340 over the length of the lease amendment term. Funding for FY 2014 would come from the parks and recreation services general fund and would be in the proposed budget for FY 2015, according to a staff memo. In FY 2013, the city generated about $225,000 in revenue from golf cart rentals.
The council’s resolution also will approve the sale of 32 city-owned golf carts to Pifer for $50,340. The city’s park advisory commission recommended the action on golf carts at its Feb. 25, 2014 meeting.
15th District Court
The 15th District Court, which is the responsibility of the city of Ann Arbor, is featured in two agenda items.
15th District Court: Weapons Screening
The council will be asked to approve a $160,000 contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office for weapons screening services for the 15th District Court, which is housed at the Justice Center – the police/courts facility immediately adjoining the Larcom city hall building at the northeast corner of Huron and Fifth.
The total amount of the contract reflects an amount of $26.24 per hour per court security officer. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, it’s estimated that three officers would be assigned on a given day with hours staggered to match the ebb and flow of court business through a typical day.
15th District Court: New Administrator
A second item related to the 15th District Court is an introduction of Shryl Samborn as the new administrator. Samborn is currently deputy administrator. Current administrator Keith Zeisloft is retiring after 12 years of service at the court. His last day of work for the court is March 28.
Samborn has worked in public service since 1998, starting with the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds moving then to the 15th District Court in 2002. She began her work in the 15th District Court as secretary to judge Julie Creal, moving to be secretary for court administrator Keith Zeisloft in 2004. She became deputy court administrator in 2007. Her undergraduate degree is from Eastern Michigan University. She’ll be enrolling in the fall of 2014 as a graduate student in Michigan State University’s school of criminal justice judicial administration masters program.
Election Polling Places
At its March 17 meeting, the council will also be asked to approve the temporary relocation of Precinct 1-7 from the University of Michigan’s Pierpont Commons, 2101 Bonisteel, to Northwood Community Center (family housing), which is the location for Precinct 2-1. That relocation will be in effect for the May 6 vote on the transit millage and for the Aug. 5 primary elections.
The relocation is needed because Pierpont Commons will be unavailable due to renovations being undertaken by the University of Michigan to that facility.
The council’s resolution is needed only on the relocation for Aug. 5 – when the two precincts will operate separately but at the same Northwood Community Center location. The city election commission has the authority to consolidate the two locations – which it did for the May 6 election at its Feb. 26 meeting.
The online agenda for March 17 includes myriad reports and communications as attachments.
Attachments: Hash Bash
Among the items attached to the agenda as reports or communications is one from the city administrator noting that for the April 5, 2014 Hash Bash event on the University of Michigan campus, all the sidewalk occupancy permits and peddler’s licenses in the immediately surrounding area will be suspended.
The possibility of such suspension – which the city administrator’s memo indicates is motivated by a desire to relieve congestion – is part of the terms and conditions of such licenses. They’ve been suspended for Hash Bash for at least the last six years, according to the memo. Hash Bash is a gathering that focuses on reform of marijuana laws.
Attachments: DDA Annual Reports
Also among the attachments are the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s annual reports for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Those reports have been the subject of back-and-forth between Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and The Ann Arbor Observer over a report in The Observer’s December edition. A follow-up to an initial correction by The Observer is anticipated in the April edition – establishing that Kunselman’s contention had been correct: Before 2011, the reports had not been filed with the governing body as required under state statute.
The March 17 agenda features a number of street closings for upcoming events. They appear on the consent agenda, which includes a group of items voted on “all in one go.” So unless a councilmember pulls out a consent agenda item for separate consideration, these items won’t be mentioned explicitly at the meeting.
- Saturday, March 29, 2014: Sixth Annual Box Cart Race/Soap Box Derby. The event is sponsored by Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and Ann Arbor Active Against ALS to honor the legacy of their fraternity brother, Lou Gehrig, and to raise money for ALS research. All proceeds from the event will be donated to ALS research. Streets to be closed: South University from Oxford to Walnut; Linden from South University to Geddes.
- Thursday, April 10, 2014: SpringFest. The sponsor, the University of Michigan-MUSIC Matters organization, is presenting a day of festivities to be capped off with a MUSIC Matters concert. The festivities will feature an assortment of student groups from the innovation, arts, sustainability, music and social justice communities on campus. Speakers will begin the program at 1 p.m. with live music featuring students and other local Ann Arbor talent to begin at 2:30 p.m. Streets to be closed: North University Street between Thayer and Fletcher Streets.
- Sunday, May 4, 2014: Burns Park Run. Streets to be closed: Several streets in the Burns Park neighborhood.
- Monday, May 5, 2014: Ann Arbor Cinco de Mayo Party. The event is sponsored by Tios Restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Streets to be closed: Liberty Street between Thompson and Division.
- Saturday, June 1, 2014: Live on Washington. This is a youth-curated outdoor arts festival, featuring performances on a stage as well as more “interactive street art” like break dancing, puppetry, and mural art. It’s sponsored by the Neutral Zone. Streets to be closed: Washington Street between Fifth Avenue and Division.
- Sunday, June 1, 2014: Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. The Dexter-Ann Arbor race is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Track Club. Streets to be closed: Several downtown streets and surface parking lots.
- Friday, June 14, 2014: Mayor’s Green Fair.
4:18 p.m. City staff responses to councilmember questions on the March 17 agenda items are now available: [responses to March 17, 2014 agenda questions]
4:58 p.m. Eight people are signed up for public commentary reserved time, all of them except one at least in part to talk about the surface of the underground Library Lane parking structure. Those signed up to talk about the future of the surface are Will Hathaway, Thomas Partridge (among other topics), Barbara Bach, Eric Lipson, Peter Allen, Ingrid Ault and Alan Haber. Signed up to talk about synagogue vigils at Beth Israel Congregation is Henry Herskovitz.
6:58 p.m. Councilmembers are starting to arrive. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) are here. City attorney Stephen Postema and assistant city attorneys Abigail Elias and Mary Fales are here. The Hathaways have arrived, as has Peter Allen.
6:59 p.m. AADL director Josie Parker has arrived. Mayor John Hieftje is now here.
7:03 p.m. City administrator Steve Powers has made appropriate sartorial choices for St. Patrick’s Day: green tie and green shirt. Margie Teall (Ward 4) has a green jacket. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) is wearing a green sari. Eaton is wearing a green tie.
7:09 p.m. Call to order, moment of silence, pledge of allegiance. And we’re off.
7:10 p.m. Roll call of council. All councilmembers are present and correct except for Sally Petersen (Ward 2), who is spending her husband’s 50th birthday with him.
7:11 p.m. Approval of agenda.
7:11 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the agenda.
7:11 p.m. Public comment on the urban forestry management plan will be accepted through March 28, 2014. Curbside composting will be resuming at the end of March. Meetings on the Arbor rail station will be starting.
7:13 p.m. Shryl L. Samborn: New 15th District Court administrator. Samborn is currently deputy court administrator. Keith Zeisloft is retiring from the court administrator position, with his last day to be on March 28. Samborn has been deputy administrator since 2007 and has worked for the court since 2002. [For more background, see 15th District Court: New Administrator above.]
7:15 p.m. Keith Zeisloft is making the introduction in judge Libby Hines’ place. He says that on March 28, Samborn is going to be sworn in as the new court administrator. He calls her his good friend. She’s “very capable,” he says. “Council, this is Shryl. Shryl, this is council!”
7:15 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.]
Eight people are signed up for public commentary reserved time, all of them except one at least in part to talk about the surface of the underground Library Lane parking structure. Those signed up to talk about the future of the surface are Will Hathaway, Thomas Partridge (among other topics), Barbara Bach, Eric Lipson, Peter Allen, Ingrid Ault and Alan Haber. Signed up to talk about synagogue vigils at Beth Israel Congregation is Henry Herskovitz. Added to the list was Rita Mitchell.
7:18 p.m. Will Hathaway is speaking on behalf of the Library Green Conservancy. He calls the resolution a modest proposal and a compromise. His group has met with many people, including urban planning professionals, he says. He calls it the next step in the public process. He says some concerns that have been expressed have been addressed in the revisions that have been made to the resolution. He contrasts an approach where a developer is in charge of the design and building of the public open space, compared to one where the community is in charge. He says the action tonight won’t flip a switch to create a park. This resolution encourages the park advisory commission to continue its effort, he says.
7:22 p.m. Thomas Partridge introduces himself as a recent candidate for the Michigan legislature and the city council. He’s calling the council’s attention to the situation in Ukraine. He calls it a valiant struggle for an independent democracy. He calls the planned urban park in a poor location, saying it’s polluted and congested with traffic. He raises the specter of a driver losing control of their vehicle and crashing into the open space.
7:25 p.m. Barbara Bach says that once the boundaries for a park have been defined, the planning can begin. She’s looking forward to the Ann Arbor District Library’s participation in the planning for the space. She describes a possible puppet stage among other possibilities. PAC’s planning process can begin after the boundaries are defined, she says. She asks the council to vote yes on the urban park resolution.
7:31 p.m. Former planning commissioner Eric Lipson says he’s a member of the Library Green Conservancy. He’s reviewing some of the history of the planning process, which dates back to the early 1990s. When he served on the city planning commission, the community engaged in the Calthorpe planning process. The outcome of that process was a designation of the entire Library Lot as a community gathering space, he says. Later, PAC came up with a recommendation for the area, he says. There have been concerns about panhandlers, he says. This park won’t cure or exacerbate that problem, he says. “This is the place. It’s about time we acted.” As far as “eyes on the park” go, Earthen Jar and Jerusalem Garden might serve that function, he ventures.
7:32 p.m. Peter Allen is educating councilmembers about the virtues of leasing versus selling. He tells them that they should not be selling land, but rather using very long-term leases. He says the Library Lot is worth more than the former Y lot.
7:35 p.m. Ingrid Ault introduces herself as the chair of PAC. She reiterates that PAC had some concerns with the first resolution and the revisions to the resolution don’t address them. PAC is opposed to moving forward with the development of a park until it’s clear how it will be paid for without jeopardizing the maintenance of the city’s other 157 parks. She draws an analogy to buying a wedding dress before even going out on a date. She says the resolution will place unnecessary restrictions on the process.
7:38 p.m. Alan Haber says he wants to speak on Stephen Kunselman’s resolution to sell the property. He says that the space should be designated as a park so that we can see what kind of financial support might grow up from the Ann Arbor Community Foundation and other sources. That seems like a no-brainer, Haber says, but quips, “I’m getting old, I’ve got problems.” He says that there’s been no opportunity to develop a commons in Ann Arbor, to let the public see how that central area can be developed as a community space. There’s no need to sell the land, he says. He says he has a list of five people in Ann Arbor who could finance a park.
7:41 p.m. Henry Herskovitz says the regular demonstrations outside Beth Israel have been criticized. But he’s addressing various points of that criticism made by Reverend James Rhodenheiser, Rector, St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church last year.
7:44 p.m. Rita Mitchell speaks in favor of the urban park resolution. She thanks the councilmembers who sponsored the resolution. She’s addressing the concerns about cost of maintenance. She says that concern doesn’t recognize the potential for private-public partnerships. A public gathering space will draw people to local businesses, she says. Residents of new 14-story buildings will also benefit from having access to open space. It will be their version of a backyard, she says. The city already owns the property, so there’s no acquisition costs, she says. She describes an underground parking structure in Boston with a park on top that has the slogan: Park below, Park above.
7:45 p.m. Communications from council. This is the first opportunity on the agenda for councilmembers to share matters they deem important.
7:46 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) says she’s going to bring forward a nomination for reappointments to the environmental commission: David Stead, Susan Hutton, and Kirk Westphal.
7:47 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) is reading aloud a letter from a constituent in favor of the urban park resolution. The letter is apparently from Mary Hathaway.
7:50 p.m. Communications from the mayor. Mayor John Hieftje is reading aloud several nominations to boards and commissions. They’ll be voted on at a future meeting.
7:50 p.m. Approval of council minutes. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the minutes of its previous meeting.
7:50 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 Lease golf carts from Pifer Inc., authorize sale of 32 carts ($50,336) [For more background, see Wheels: Golf Carts above.]
- CA-2 Purchase police detective vehicle from Berger Chevrolet ($26,750) [For more background, see Wheels: Detective above.]
- CA-3 Accept minutes of board of insurance administration minutes for Feb. 27, 2014
- CA-4 Street Closing: Burns Park Run [For more background, see Street Closings above.]
- CA-5 Street Closing: Cinco de Mayo at Tios
- CA-6 Street Closing: Box Car Derby
- CA-7 Street Closing: Mayor’s Green Fair
- CA-8 Street Closing: Live on Washington
- CA-9 Street Closing: Dexter-Ann Arbor Run
- CA-10 Street Closing: Spring Fest
- CA-11 Temporary polling place change: Precinct 1-7 to Northwood Community Center (Family Housing) [For more background, see Election Polling Places above.]
7:51 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) wants to pull out the item on the board of insurance minutes.
7:52 p.m. CA-3 Accept minutes of board of insurance administration minutes for Feb. 27, 2014. Lumm says that they’re looking at separating out the approvals by amount.
7:53 p.m. Outcome: The consent agenda is now approved.
7:53 p.m. DC-1 Designating an urban public park location on the Library Lot site. This resolution was postponed from the council’s March 3 meeting. It would reserve a specific 12,000-square-foot portion of the top of the Library Lane parking structure as a public urban park. [For more background, see Top of Library Lane: Urban Public Park above.]
7:54 p.m. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) says that the “whereas” clauses go on for three pages. That reflects the long history of the issue. Our community has always given great support for parks, he notes. He points out that the parks millage was passed, but the library millage failed.
7:56 p.m. Eaton supports Hieftje’s idea of a string of parks that extend from Liberty Plaza to a greenway. He says this is a great place to start. The resolution doesn’t do a lot, he says. It draws some boundaries and sends the issue back to the park advisory commission (PAC). He imagines that PAC might return with basic options and ballpark cost estimates. He says that this resolution will refer the issue back to PAC for further consideration. He also says that having a new park will not affect homelessness. What we need to do is establish a day shelter and downtown foot patrols, he says.
7:58 p.m. Eaton says that a park designed with active uses is the key. During the development of the resolution, he’s met with various people and groups, including the library board. At some point the concerns amount to just not wanting a park downtown, he says. The sale of the eastern portion will require eight votes, he says. There won’t be eight votes without this resolution, he says. Having a private owner repudiates the whole idea of a public space, he says.
7:59 p.m. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) picks up where Eaton left off. For those who want a park, she notes, there are two visions: (1) a developer buys the land and it’s a privately held park for public use; or (2) a commons that is publicly held.
8:01 p.m. Kailasapathy says that you can’t attend a Democratic Party meeting without hearing people complain about Citizens United. She wonders if a private owner will allow anti-war demonstrations. Democracy can only survive when there are checks and balances on capitalism. A public space must be publicly owned, she says, not a private developer allowing us to use his space on his terms. On paper it seems like a free lunch, she says. But in effect it’s not going to be a public space.
8:03 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) thanks Eaton for his leadership. She says the Connecting William Street study recommended 5,000 square feet. This resolution recommends 12,000 square feet, which she compares to about the same size as Liberty Plaza. There’s been consistent support for public space on this site of about this size, she says. She says there’s an overwhelming consensus that this should be public space. The best way to do that is through city control, she says.
8:04 p.m. Lumm doesn’t agree that if you support an urban park here, then you’re against development. “That’s nonsense,” she says.
8:06 p.m. Lumm hopes everyone will support this resolution. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) says that if 100 spoke, there would be 100 different opinions. We solve problems in our town, we don’t just create them, he says. It’s our time to say: This will be our future, this is what we want our town to be. He’s thanking Haber and Hathaway. He’s also thanking mayor John Hieftje, who had attended a picnic on top of the parking structure.
8:08 p.m. Anglin is now talking about the problem of homelessness. “We don’t want a dead zone in our town,” he says. There is a dead zone around city hall at night, he says. The library is one of the best in the state, he says. The library’s leadership will take us to a future we can be proud of, he says. He notes that the new bus station has been constructed downtown. The addition of a park will bring more families downtown, he says. He ventures that dances could be held.
8:10 p.m. Anglin says the city is blessed that people are willing to come forward to help. Anglin reiterates Eaton’s point about there being four votes on the current council that would block any sale of land without the stipulation that there will be a publicly-owned park.
8:13 p.m. Hieftje is now inviting Josie Parker, AADL director, to address the council. She thanks those who have made positive comments about the quality of the library. There’s a lot of fiction in the library, she quips, but it’s not a fiction that it takes a lot of effort to manage a public space. She calls the library building a park within walls. It’s not about a label, but rather behavior, she says. Teenagers or a lot of crying babies can tip the balance in a public space.
8:15 p.m. Some of the most obnoxious behavior at the public library, she says, is by people who are well-housed and well off. She’s reading aloud a library board resolution passed tonight, urging the city council to reject the council resolution on establishing an urban park on top of the Library Lane parking structure. [The resolution was passed by the AADL board on a 6-1 vote, over dissent from Nancy Kaplan.]
8:18 p.m. Hieftje is now saying that there’s always been a plan for a park or public space or whatever you want to call it. He’s saying it could be privately owned and owned by the city, but maintained by the developer. There could be a development agreement stipulating that there would be political rallies there, just as in a public park. There are two ways to go, he says: developer-owned or city-owned.
8:19 p.m. Jim Chaconas, of Colliers International, is now being invited to the podium.
8:20 p.m. Hieftje asks what the impact of the real estate value would be if the frontage on the South Fifth Avenue were removed. Chaconas says it would be negative. You’d lose a couple million dollars of value, he says.
8:21 p.m. Eaton asks Chaconas to estimate the value of land: $6-7 million. Chaconas says that a park would be an asset to the building.
8:23 p.m. Kunselman says he doesn’t necessarily agree that the northwest portion needs to be retail. He’s describing the possibility of a building over that portion that would not block off access.
8:24 p.m. Kunselman and Chaconas are talking about how things have changed. Chaconas used to be in the beer business so he knows about restaurants, he says. He’s talking about creating a new “mid-town.” He calls Kunselman’s cantilevering idea a good one.
8:27 p.m. Lumm is now talking to Chaconas. She wants to know why it’s more difficult to build a building without constructing something on the northwest corner. The ability to go “street-to-street” had increased the Y lot deal by around $1 million, Chaconas says.
8:30 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) is now asking Chaconas how eyes-on-the-site can be achieved with only development on the high-density portion of the site. Chaconas is comparing relative square footage costs for retail, office and residential.
8:32 p.m. Kunselman weighs in for his cantilevered building, by saying that now, when it rains at Sonic Lunch, everybody runs. [Sonic Lunch is a weekly summer concert series held in Liberty Plaza and sponsored by the Bank of Ann Arbor.]
8:32 p.m. Chaconas says deed restrictions can be put in.
8:34 p.m. Anglin says he’s not interested in this kind of discussion right now. Anglin says he wants to focus on what the public is paying for and what the public wants. If the public says they want it, they’ll support it. Downtown can’t be just restaurants and Disney style entertainment.
8:35 p.m. Chaconas says a lot of Google, PRIME Research and Barracuda employees are living in the new student high rises.
8:38 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) now proposes an amendment to the first “resolved clause.” It describes a public space, publicly owned, of at least 6,500 square feet, with the northern boundary to be determined at a future time.
8:39 p.m. Briere doesn’t like the idea of putting a box around the park and telling PAC to fill the box.
8:40 p.m. Her approach gives PAC room to be creative, she says. And it gives the city administrator flexibility in talking to prospective purchasers. The value of the land is not just a financial value, but a community value, she says.
8:41 p.m. Briere says she has a personal desire to see a park, but she doesn’t see a park as an entertainment venue. She’d love to see a play park, a place with water for kids to splash in or a place for kids to climb.
8:43 p.m. We’re now discussing Briere’s amendment. Anglin asks about the indefiniteness of her proposal. Briere explains that this would be determined by PAC.
8:44 p.m. Anglin says he hopes that people understand that what’s happening is an effort at compromise. A lot of compromises have been made already, he says. Teall says she appreciates the effort at compromise, but says she won’t support the amendment or the resolution as a whole.
8:46 p.m. Hieftje says he has a question for Briere. The background to his question includes the DTE property down by the Huron River. Hieftje says that he thinks that land should be owned by DTE with the ability of the city to use the land. Hieftje says he’s reluctant to make this parcel a publicly-owned parcel. He wants to know if that part of the resolution is important to Briere. She replies that it’s important to those who proposed the resolution.
8:48 p.m. Briere expresses skepticism that privately-owned spaces can be truly public without making people feel like intruders. She stresses that it will not be a very big space that will serve well as a gathering space, or a commons or a place for parades.
8:50 p.m. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) says he’ll support the amendment because it will improve the resolution. But he says that the resolution is flawed and continues to have flaws. He’ll address those when the resolution is voted on.
8:53 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) is asking whether the requirement for a vote on the sale of parkland would apply to the air rights cantilevered over the top of a public park. Based on remarks from planning manager Wendy Rampson and assistant city attorney Mary Fales, the transaction would be more complex than a fee simple arrangement. Rampson indicates that a condominium agreement would be a suitable kind of arrangement.
8:54 p.m. Kunselman ventures that Tally Hall is an example of a condominium arrangement.
8:56 p.m. Anglin is now talking to Rampson about condominium arrangements. He’s making sure that the parcel could, in fact, be a park.
8:59 p.m. Fales says if there’s development over the parking structure, then you would have ownership of the parking structure. The development would be one unit of the condo, she says, and the parking structure and the park would be another unit of the condo. Kunselman is explaining that there could be common areas in a condo arrangement, jointly owned, and gives Tally Hall as an example.
9:00 p.m. Kunselman says he doesn’t want it to be called a park, saying that the council was getting caught up in vocabulary. He wants to call it public space with no limitation on politics or music.
9:03 p.m. Lumm is skeptical that the maintenance costs would be all that great. The estimate per square foot for maintenance of an urban park is $1.20-$1.50, she says, which would be about $15,000 for this space. Kunselman appreciates the effort to compromise. He says we can get what everybody wants. He wants the full frontage of Fifth Avenue for public open space, which is why he wants the cantilevered portion. He points out that part of the point of the Library Lane mid-block cut-through was to be able to close it off for events. “Size is important,” he says. The three-side requirement is described by Kunselman as “bunk,” giving Sculpture Plaza as a counter example, he says.
9:05 p.m. Kunselman says the council would get flak for not doing it right, but he says, “It’s going to be really horrible if we don’t do anything at all.”
9:06 p.m. Kunselman floats the idea of postponing. He ventures that it would be an advantage to have Petersen at the table [she's absent]. Eaton wants to know if Kunselman would want to postpone the urban park resolution as well as the listing for sale. Kunselman’s answer: Yes.
9:08 p.m. Warpehoski says he’ll support the amendment. It’s important to get the northern boundary right, he says.
9:11 p.m. Lumm says that obviously she is in favor of declaring 12,000 square feet of open space. But she’s not sure if Briere would support the resolution if the amendment passes. She says she’s trying to count noses. Warpehoski says he wants to see the part about the parks and recreation open space (PROS) plan struck from the resolution, noting that the council doesn’t have the ability to unilaterally place a parcel in the PROS plan. With that part stricken and with the current amendment, he’d support the resolution.
9:12 p.m. Briere says she’ll remove the final sentence about establishing the space as a part of the PROS plan. Lumm, as the seconder of the amendment, agrees to accept that as “friendly.” Teall says she’s still concerned about the role of the Ann Arbor District Library.
9:13 p.m. Briere responds to Teall by saying that she doesn’t anticipate anyone at the library dealing with maintenance or programming of the space. She would never want to burden the library.
9:15 p.m. Teall says her concern is not that the library is being told to do anything. But the burden of having space next to the library that is unprogrammed will fall on the library regardless, she says.
9:18 p.m. Eaton is addressing the idea that a park would create a safety problem that does not already exist. When he sat down with the library board, they told him about someone who discovered a couple having sex in the underground parking structure stairwell. The idea that having a park will create a new problem is silly, Eaton says. Hieftje quips that in light of the problem Eaton described, perhaps a new downtown hotel was needed.
9:19 p.m. Kunselman says that there’s politics involved, and fear mongering by the library board about the problems that could result from having a public park.
9:19 p.m. Teall says there’s not fear mongering but rather people who know their business [library board] and who know it well.
9:25 p.m. Hieftje highlights the vocabulary of the “resolved clause” that Briere wants to amend: “urban public park.” Briere is now talking about what she meant. She means it to be interchangeable. Hieftje says the resolution has some promise, but he’s reluctant to give up the whole Fifth Avenue frontage. It’s important for the building to feel like it has an entrance onto Fifth, he says.
9:25 p.m. Outcome: The amendment passes with dissent from Kunselman, Teall, and Anglin.
9:25 p.m. Taylor now says he’ll vote against the resolution. The boundaries should be decided at the same time the rest of the location is designed. That would be critical to the success of the public space. He also gives significance to the library board’s resolution. PAC and the library board are against pre-answering the question, he says. If you have any sense of respect for those bodies, in his view there’s only one vote on this, and that’s no.
9:27 p.m. Taylor calls Kunselman’s description of the library board as “fear mongering” is a “shocking insult for which an apology is due.” The library board was weighing in in good faith based on knowledge and expertise, he says.
9:29 p.m. Lumm says it’s not collegial to suggest that adding 6,500 square feet to a public space shows disrespect to the library. The concerns Lumm heard were about the process, she said. So many experts have looked at this and analyzed this, Lumm says.
9:30 p.m. Lumm says if we don’t act now, we’ll likely see cars parked there years from now. Lumm is describing Centennial Park in Atlanta, which she visited when she attended a Final Four game years ago.
9:35 p.m. Warpehoski says the safety concerns had been described as “silly,” so he wants AADL director Josie Parker to come to the podium. He recalls her remark to him a year ago: “We’re all alone down there.” Parker says she doesn’t want to leave tonight appearing silly. The concerns about safety are not silly because the events that the library deals with are real. It’s important to consider what is reality now around that space, she says. She says the Ann Arbor police are called to the downtown library location every third day, and to Liberty Plaza every second day. There have been five heroin overdoses in the last three years, she says. It’s not about making a problem worse, she says, it’s just about acknowledging reality. Most of the issues are “drunk and disorderly.” Right now it’s almost every day, she says. “This is your downtown public library.” They have $250,000 in security costs – just for the downtown location.
9:36 p.m. Parker says, “I have to walk back down there from here, and I’m already worried about it.” You have heroin in your community and no one wants to talk about it. Heroin is being used in the public library, she says, and she doesn’t like talking about it in public.
9:38 p.m. Parker says, “We manage it, and you don’t know about it, and that makes it successful.”
9:40 p.m. Lumm asks if the DDA is aware of the situation. She recalls the council resolution asking the DDA to consider funding three downtown beat cops. The DDA had decided not to do that. Parker says that it’s not about policing, but rather about order, maintenance and management. When a patron is so drunk they don’t wake up or can’t walk out, that’s when the police are called, Parker says. She can’t speak for the DDA.
9:43 p.m. Warpehoski thanks Parker. He says when he brings his kids to the downtown location, he still feels like it’s a safe space. It’s not just about an added 5,000 square feet. Having a safe library is important and having a safe space outside the library is also important, he says.
9:46 p.m. Warpehoski says that at the last council meeting, he tried to make a joke and it came off as hurtful and he’d apologized. He now says that he thinks the dismissive comments about the library board merit an apology. Kunselman responds: “I will not be apologizing.”
9:50 p.m. Kunselman says he finds it insulting that the library board passed a resolution telling the council not to pass the resolution. He repeats his contention that the library board was fear mongering. He’d called out the library board, he says, and “That’s what I did – that’s what I do.” He adds: “That’s what I get elected for, to stand up …” for the people who will be using the public space, and let them enjoy their cigarette. [That's a pointed reference to Warpehoski's in-the-works ordinance to regulate outdoor smoking in some areas of public parks.]
9:51 p.m. Briere says that she won’t try to control bad behavior. [The reference is presumably dual – bad behavior in public spaces and bad behavior at the council table.]
9:52 p.m. Briere reviews the content of the resolution. She says that a cooperative spirit at the council table sometimes requires not getting upset when you don’t like what you hear from the other side.
9:54 p.m. Parks and recreation manager Colin Smith is called to the podium to comment. Teall asks him if he has any ideas about programming for the public space. He pauses before answering. He talks about the process that the staff would go through.
9:55 p.m. Teall wants to strike the part of the resolution that makes a request of community services and parks staff.
9:57 p.m. Smith returns to the podium at Eaton’s request. Eaton asks about cost.
10:00 p.m. Hieftje says he has a basic problem with the resolution. He describes Liberty Plaza as a shadow that hangs over the issue of parks. He says that he thinks the problems associated with Liberty Plaza will migrate to the new space. He wonders why the effort described in the resolution to ask staff to program the Library Lane space in the interim could not be directed to Liberty Plaza.
10:01 p.m. Eaton says that Liberty Plaza is believed by many in the homeless community to be a place where they can gather and not be rousted. The responsibility of having a day shelter has been implicitly placed on the library and that’s not right, he says.
10:02 p.m. Eaton says if there’s a heroin epidemic in town, we probably need some more police officers. He says we need to add park space downtown as we add residents and we also need to address the social consequences of increased density.
10:07 p.m. Briere says the council is going off on a tangent. Requesting that parks staff work to program active uses might result in one event in a year. She describes a possibility of an event where the city’s fire trucks and other heavy equipment were driven to the top of the parking structure and kids were allowed to climb all over them. She ventures that the cost would not be that great. But she allows that the language of the resolution talks about “encouraging” and that is not very specific. It takes time to develop a new program, she says.
10:09 p.m. Hieftje wants to move toward voting on Teall’s amendment. Teall says she likes the sentiment, but doesn’t think it’s fair to staff. Warpehoski says that he doesn’t think staff will be trying to put on a book fair, but rather will work to set policies on use for the space.
10:11 p.m. Warpehoski says he’ll support Teall’s amendment to give staff maximum flexibility.
10:11 p.m. Outcome: Teall’s amendment fails with support only from Teall, Warpehoski, Taylor, Briere and Hieftje.
10:12 p.m. Anglin says that everyone agrees that this should continue to be a process.
10:16 p.m. Taylor says that we entrust our parks to PAC. Commissioners were unequivocal about their opposition to this resolution, he says. The library board had also communicated its opposition to the resolution. That’s how boards should communicate with each other, he says. The council has no problem asking the state legislature to vote on matters affecting the city. So it’s proper for the library board to convey its view to the council, he says. Taylor will vote against it.
10:20 p.m. Kunselman says the resolution has brought out a lot of feeling in the community. Kunselman says that he’d met with members of the library board last Friday and that they had not given him a heads up that they’d be passing a resolution on this. Kunselman says everyone has to come together to get something out of this. He floats the idea that he might bring forth a resolution calling on the library to move its building on top of the parking structure. “Most of the people we think of as having bad behavior also ride the bus,” he notes. He talks about taking a first step. If the resolution on the broker also passes, then a purchaser will have some idea of what to expect. “I didn’t pour the water for this effort, but I’m helping to carry it,” Kunselman says.
10:21 p.m. Kailasapathy calls the resolution a baby step. She says she feels developers rule supreme. She doesn’t want to leave the future of the public space to a developer. She’s voting for it.
10:24 p.m. Warpehoski says he’ll vote for it. He rejects the idea that it’s the first step in the process. He recounts several other steps: PAC’s recommendation, Connecting William Street, the design of the parking structure itself. He can celebrate this step because it provides flexibility. It’s important that First Amendment rights be protected on that space. He points out that the Occupy Wall Street movement started in a privately owned public space.
10:27 p.m. Teall says it looks like it’s going to pass. She says that it’s been discussed many times. She’s concerned about moving forward at this pace at this point without a partner who will work and understand what the public would like to see there. She’s also concerned about programming the space. The cost also worries her, she says.
10:30 p.m. Briere now weighs in. She appreciates comments by Warpehoski and Teall. Everyone is working toward the same goal, she says. The question is what to do first. If the city is not clear about its expectations, the city can’t negotiate effectively, she says. It sets a minimum and a maximum. She doesn’t care as much as she should, she says, about the difference between public space, park and plaza. The resolution has been opened up a little bit more to give it flexibility for PAC, she says. A prospective developer should be talking with PAC and the council and trying to figure out the best way to work out how much land is available for public use so they can offer the best possible deal.
10:34 p.m. Briere says she’ll vote yes on this resolution, but is not sure if she’ll vote yes on the brokerage services issue. Teall points out that heroin use should not be equated with homelessness. Hieftje is now defending the city’s record on efforts to work on homelessness. He says that downtown does need more policing. He says if the three new police positions in the initial budget requests for FY 2015 are deployed in downtown, then that would have a positive impact. Hieftje rejects the idea that voting against this resolution means you’re against parks. He recounts his own efforts to expand the park system. He says he’ll vote against this resolution.
10:35 p.m. Hieftje said he’d hoped that the resolution could have been revised to the point where it won the support of PAC and the library board.
10:36 p.m. Hieftje says he’s concerned about the city’s ability to maintain this new space along with a new greenway.
10:38 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the amended resolution on reserving an area for a public urban park on top of the Library Lane underground parking structure. Dissenting on the 7-3 vote were Hieftje, Taylor and Teall. Petersen is absent.
10:39 p.m. Recess. We’re now in recess.
10:53 p.m. We’re back.
10:57 p.m. The council is going to deal with its closed session now instead of later.
10:57 p.m. Eaton declares that he’s supposed to disclose that he has a potential conflict of interest in the matter to be discussed in closed session. It’s the Yu v. City of Ann Arbor case. Eaton explains that he had accepted a nominal sum from an attorney in the Yu v. City of Ann Arbor case to create an attorney-client privileged relationship. That relationship ended before Eaton took office, he explains.
11:04 p.m. Closed session.
11:04 p.m. The council has emerged from closed session.
11:05 p.m. Briere says, “We’ve got the whole meeting in front of us!”
11:05 p.m. DC-2 Waive attorney-client privilege for Feb. 25, 2014 city attorney memo on property assessment. This item was postponed from the council’s March 3, 2014 meeting. It would waive privilege on a Feb. 25, 2014 memo from the city attorney explaining aspects of how tax assessment and appeals work. [For more background, see Tax Assessment above.]
11:06 p.m. Eaton explains that while campaigning he’d received questions on this issue. He reports that the city attorney, Stephen Postema, doesn’t have a problem with it. Briere has a question for Postema.
11:06 p.m. Briere says that in the past, the council has provided direction to craft an opinion that’s suitable for a public audience. Postema says that would be best practice. Briere asks Eaton if that would be all right with him. Eaton says that he sees no reason or purpose to it. There’s no risk to the city. Briere says her concern is for coherence.
11:11 p.m. Taylor agrees with Eaton’s concern about educating the public is appropriate. He says that directing the city attorney to provide a memo for public consumption would alter the nature of the advice the council would receive – if the city attorney had in the back of his mind that it might have privilege waived.
11:14 p.m. Anglin has some questions about what information will be attached.
11:14 p.m. Lumm doesn’t care how it’s done but wants to see the information provided to the public.
11:15 p.m. Eaton says he doesn’t see any purpose to it. He ventures that the outside bond counsel will not be going through the cosmetic procedure that the council is going through. He’ll opposed Taylor’s amendment.
11:17 p.m. Kunselman will support Taylor’s amendment. If there’s any information that’s different in the revised memo, the council can just come back and waive the privilege. If that makes the city staff comfortable, he’s willing to go along with that. Lumm reiterates her concern that the important thing is to get the information out, but understands Eaton’s point.
11:17 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct the city attorney to prepare an advice memo for public consumption.
11:18 p.m. DC-3 Charitable gaming license for Pearls & Ivy Foundation Inc. Passage of the resolution will allow the Pearls & Ivy Foundation Inc. to hold a poker event at the Heidelberg, located at 215 N. Main Street.
11:18 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the charitable gaming license.
11:18 p.m. DC-4 Direct development of a commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. The resolution would direct the city’s energy commission and staff to convene a stakeholder work group, with the support of the city attorney’s office, to draft a commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. It’s an effort to help achieve goals in the city’s climate action plan. [For more background, see Energy: Resolution on Development of Energy Disclosure for Commercial Buildings above.]
11:18 p.m. Hieftje says the motivation is explained very well in the memo accompanying the resolution.
11:20 p.m. When companies were forced to report how much pollution was being put into the air and water, they started reducing how much pollution they produced, Hieftje says. He draws an analogy to this resolution.
11:23 p.m. Briere recalls the city’s sustainability guidelines. She says she likes looking at her monthly utility bills and comparing her energy use to her neighbors’. She likes the firm date and the fact that it’s a direction to the energy commission.
11:25 p.m. Lumm is reading aloud a prepared statement of opposition based on the amount of staff time it might require. She is concerned that those who would be impacted had not been contacted. She says that the premise is that building owners are not already aware of their energy costs. She can’t tell if she’d ultimately vote to support to support a resolution if it were developed.
11:26 p.m. Anglin says it’s a good way to proceed, but ventures that the private sector is well aware of its energy use. Anglin is more concerned about the fact that the city needs four more foresters. He ventures that someone would need to be hired to do this – which is the next resolution.
11:27 p.m. Hieftje says that the city, as municipal entity, makes up a small portion of the energy use in the city. So other sectors have to be engaged, he says.
11:30 p.m. Kunselman says he thinks that other model ordinances can be used. He doesn’t think it will be that time-consuming. He indicates he won’t necessarily support a hire of energy staff to accomplish this. Taylor says that it will be a benefit to the public. Lumm is reiterating the points she’s already made by reading aloud the staff responses to councilmember questions about agenda items.
11:32 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct development of an energy disclosure ordinance on a 7-3 vote. Dissenting were Lumm, Eaton and Anglin.
11:32 p.m. DC-5 Recommend filling energy office staff position. The resolution would direct the city administrator to hire an additional staff member for the city’s energy office, bringing the total back to two people, according to the resolution. [For more background, see Energy: Resolution on Energy Office Staff above.]
11:34 p.m. Briere is offering an amendment that directs the city administrator to develop a plan for realizing the goals of the climate action plan, but not direct a staff hire. Briere says that she feels it’s inappropriate to determine staffing issues. The council is a policy-making body and the level of staffing to effectuate that policy is the city administrator’s responsibility, she says.
11:35 p.m. Lumm wants city administrator Steve Powers’ reaction to the amended resolution.
11:38 p.m. Powers says he doesn’t know if this effort will require an additional staff member. That will depend on the result of the report that this resolution directs. Lumm wants to know if an additional staff member will be required. Powers reiterates that this depends on the finding.
11:40 p.m. Kunselman ventures that the FY 2015 budget will not include the FTE that the original resolution called for. Powers says that it still might. Kunselman says that the council could then remove it from the budget. Powers allows that’s right.
11:44 p.m. Lumm is not comfortable with this because it seems like a commitment to more spending. She doesn’t like the idea of handling this kind of thing outside the ordinary budget process. She’s not comfortable with the lack of clarity, so she’s not comfortable. Warpehoski says he wants the city administrator’s report so that he can make that decision based on what’s in it.
11:45 p.m. Warpehoski weighs in for it.
11:46 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted 6-4 to direct the city administrator to present a plan to realize the goals of the sustainability plan. Dissenting were Kailasapathy, Lumm, Eaton and Anglin.
11:46 p.m. DC-6 Waive attorney-client privilege on Aug. 9, 2012 memo from the outside bond counsel. This resolution would waive attorney-client privilege on a document prepared by Dykema Gossett, city’s outside bond counsel. The Build America Bonds used to finance construction of the Library Lane project have private-use limitations on facilities constructed with financing from such bonds. The Dykema memo apparently analyzes those limitations with respect to Library Lane.[For more background, see Top of Library Lane: Bound Counsel above.]
11:48 p.m. Kunselman is giving background on the memo. It came back up when the audit committee reviewed the DDA audit. It would help answer some questions the public have, he says. He doesn’t think the city administrator, or the city attorney or the chief financial officer has a problem waiving privilege on the document.
11:51 p.m. Taylor makes a similar amendment to the previous one on attorney-client privilege. He doesn’t want subsequent attorney-client privileged information to have uncertainty about whether privilege would eventually be waived.
11:52 p.m. Briere doesn’t want the city attorney to rewrite the bond counsel’s advice memo. Assistant city attorney Abigail Elias says she thinks it would be appropriate to ask the city attorney to ask the outside bond counsel to prepare a memorandum.
11:57 p.m. The amendment is to direct the city attorney to ask outside bond counsel to prepare a memo that has the same information as the original memo.
11:57 p.m. Kailasapathy says she doesn’t see the point in having the document rewritten.
11:58 p.m. Kunselman says that the memo didn’t include some issue he wanted to be addressed. So if it’s going to be rewritten, there are things that he’d like to have included in the re-written memo.
12:01 a.m. Eaton says it’s a fiction that rewriting an opinion protects the city’s interests. An attorney whose advice changes based on whether that advice is made public is not an attorney you’d want to hire, he says. Taylor calls the gratuitous waiver of privilege unprofessional and doesn’t want the council to get a reputation for being unprofessional.
12:03 a.m. Lumm says it’s about transparency. She doesn’t see a legal reason not to make it public. Asking the bond counsel to rewrite something for no good reason.
12:03 a.m. Outcome: The amendment fails 4-6, with support only from Hieftje, Briere, Taylor and Teall.
12:06 a.m. Briere says that she voted for the amendment because she thinks the city attorney should be routinely directed to rewrite memos. She felt that the memo in question should never have been considered privileged in the first place.
12:06 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to waive attorney-client privilege on the 2012 outside bond counsel memo, over dissent from Taylor, who does not insist on a roll-call vote.
12:06 a.m. DC-7 Banfield Bar & Grill liquor license: Withdraw objection and renew license. At its March 3, 2014 meeting the council voted to recommend withdrawal of Banfield Bar & Grill’s liquor license. That had been based on non-payment of taxes. No one appeared on Banfield’s behalf at a hearing on the matter. The taxes were subsequently paid. So this resolution withdraws the recommendation that the license not be renewed and instead recommends that it be renewed.
12:06 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to recommend the renewal of Banfield’s liquor license.
12:07 a.m. Recess. We’re in recess.
12:17 a.m. We’re back.
12:17 a.m. DC-8 Direct city administrator to list surface of Library Lane parking structure for sale; retain real estate brokerage services. This resolution would direct the city administrator to obtain real estate brokerage services for the sale of right to develop the city-owned property on top of the Library Lane parking structure. [For more background, see Top of Library Lane: Brokerage Services above.]
12:20 a.m. Kunselman reviews the item. He points out that this is not a sale of the property. We’ve done a lot of talking and we’ve got a lot of ideas, he says, but we don’t have any money. He hopes for everyone’s support.
12:21 a.m. Briere is interested in finding a civic use of the property. So she wasn’t sure that “highest and best use” should be the criterion.
12:23 a.m. Kailasapathy says highest is not necessarily best use. Hieftje responds by saying that “highest and best use” is a real estate term. It’s a term of art that means that we want to get a good return for the taxpayers.
12:25 a.m. Kunselman says he’s willing to strike the phrase “highest and best use.” That appears to be accepted on a friendly basis.
12:28 a.m. Warpehoski says that the highest price is not the most important thing. “Let’s give this a try,” he says.
12:30 a.m. Lumm says she’s comfortable supporting this, given the passage of the urban park resolution.
12:31 a.m. Lumm says she’s seen the planning commission’s resolution and she thinks it might be too prescriptive. Now is a good time to move forward, she says. [.pdf of planning commission's resolution]
12:39 a.m. Eaton says he’s supporting this resolution because he sees it as direction to the city administrator to explore what’s possible. Taylor says he’ll be supporting this, because he’s excited about what we might find out. He’s excited about seeing this area of the city activated. He says that the level of detail that Dennis Dahlmann had provided for the Y lot would also be expected, if not more, for this parcel. Warpehoski and Lumm get some clarity about the previous resolution. Hieftje calls 415 W. Washington a piece of city-owned blight. He wants to use this resolution tonight as a template for other properties like 415 W. Washington.
12:41 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted 8-1 to direct the city administrator to list the Library Lot property for sale. Dissenting was Kailasapathy. Petersen was absent from the start of the meeting. Teall departed late in the meeting.
12:41 a.m. DS-1 Approve changes to bylaws of the Ann Arbor city planning commission. This item has been on the council’s agenda since last fall and repeatedly postponed as the planning commission considered additional changes to its bylaws. Three changes have been approved by the planning commission: (1) a change to the requirements on request for accommodations for people with a disability – from a day to two days in advance; (2) an outright prohibition against city councilmembers addressing the planning commission; and (3) a clarification that people can speak only once during a public hearing, even if that hearing is continued at a subsequent meeting. The planning commission adopted (2) and (3) at its Feb. 20, 2014 meeting, having previously adopted (1) last summer at its July 16, 2013. Tonight the only change in front of the council is (1), because the city attorney’s office “has suggested the wording of one of the amendments should be clarified before moving forward,” according to a city staff memo.
12:42 a.m. Briere gives the background. Eaton asks what would happen if the council waited until the other bylaws changes were approved. Briere says it wouldn’t be a problem.
12:42 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the changes to the planning commission bylaws.
12:42 a.m. DS-2 Approve a contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office for weapons screening services in the Ann Arbor Justice Center for the 15th Judicial District Court ($160,000). The total amount of the contract reflects an amount of $26.24 per hour per court security officer. [For more background, see 15th District Court: Weapons Screening above.]
12:43 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the weapons screening contract.
12:44 a.m. DS-3 Accept easement for stormwater drainage facilities at 3500 Fox Hunt Drive. This is a standard easement.
12:44 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the easement for stormwater facilities.
12:45 a.m. DS-4 Purchase of two Forklifts ($55,268) This resolution will authorized the purchase of two Clark C30 forklifts for use at the city’s materials recovery facility (MRF) for a total of $55,268. [For more background, see Wheels: Forklifts above.]
12:46 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the purchase of two forklifts.
12:50 a.m. Public commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
12:54 a.m. Kai Petainen is addressing the council. He’s talking about Ann Arbor SPARK. He’s reading aloud from a dissatisfied participant in SPARK’s boot camp. Their marketing costs are increasing by 100%. He says that SPARK has just lost the pre-seed fund. He says he wants SPARK’s investment to go to local businesses.
Ed Vielmetti notes that the council is getting decade-old reports from the DDA attached to tonight’s agenda. He’s making a request that the city make its FOIA log a part of the city’s data catalog, making it not just a public document, but a published document.
12:56 a.m. Alan Haber expresses his total dissatisfaction with the passage of the resolution on the listing of the Library Lot for sale. He pounds the podium. None of the mayoral candidates on the council should be mayor, he says, because they should be people who speak for the people.
12:56 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
The Chronicle survives in part through regular voluntary subscriptions to support our coverage of public bodies like the Ann Arbor city council. If you’re already supporting The Chronicle please encourage your friends, neighbors and coworkers to do the same. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle.