Archive for June, 2014

Bryson Won’t Campaign for Ward 5 Council

In a press release emailed on June 20, 2014, Leon Bryson has announced that he will no longer be a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the Ward 5 city council primary on Aug. 5, 2014. Bryson had submitted the necessary 100 signatures to qualify for the ballot alongside incumbent Democrat Chuck Warpehoski, who is nearing the completion of his first two-year term on the council.

In his press release, Bryson writes: “As much as I wanted to represent you and our city, I have learned that I am not yet ready to take on this position. As I campaigned for office, it became clear to me that I needed to know more about city issues and local politics in … [Full Story]

Farmers Market

Workers are setting up tables, chairs and decorations for an event at the farmers market – possibly a wedding? [photo] Part of the surface lot is blocked off to public parking.

Dascola Election Lawsuit Fees Settled: $30,731

The question of fees in the successful Bob Dascola election lawsuit against the city of Ann Arbor has been settled: The city of Ann Arbor will pay Dascola’s attorney, Tom Wieder, a total of $30,731.75. That total includes attorney fees in the amount of $30,306.25 – which is the result of 93.25 hours billed at an hourly rate of $325. The remainder of that total is $425.50 – costs for filings and document retrieval from the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system.

The settlement is reflected in a court document filed by the city of Ann Arbor on June 19, 2014.

That total reflects a reduction from a total of $37,725.50 that Wieder had sought in his motion for … [Full Story]

Live Audio: Arrowwood Candidate Forum

This is a live broadcast of a candidate forum being held at Arrowwood Hills Cooperative Housing, located off Pontiac Trail, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Updated: The broadcast is now over. Here’s the audio file from the event: [.mp3 of Arrowwood candidate forum] Candidates who attended were Ward 1 council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy (incumbent) and Don Adams, as well as mayoral candidate Stephen Kunselman.

Invited have been Ward 1 city council Democratic primary candidates who will appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot: incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams. Arrowwood is located in Ward 1.

Also invited are mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary: Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman.

Candidates for the Ann Arbor Public … [Full Story]

Main & Liberty

Main Street is blocked off between Liberty [photo] and William [photo] for The Event on Main, a fundraiser for the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

Kingsley & Ashley

Kingsley/Ashley area: Flurry of new street-tree planting, mostly redbud and serviceberry. [photo] I wouldn’t place any bets whether that particular row survives ‘121 Kingsley West‘condo construction.

Theater Board OKs Restructuring Plan

The board of the nonprofit Performance Network Theatre has voted to accept a restructuring plan led by John Manfredi, who will become PNT’s producing artistic director. The vote occurred at the board’s June 18, 2014 meeting, according to a press release issued by board president Ron Maurer on June 19. [.pdf of press release]

On May 22, the board had announced that it was suspending operations of the professional theater company after determining that the theater ”is not currently financially viable.” In early June, the board issued a letter stating that the theater did not have resources to pay its staff, actors and vendors in a timely manner, and to make debt payments.

Subsequently, a group of PNT supporters – including former staff – … [Full Story]

Library Moves Ahead on Front Entrance Work

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (June 16, 2014): The main action item for this month’s meeting was approval of a contract with O’Neal Construction Inc. for construction management of the downtown library’s front entrance renovations.

Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Screenshot of Ann Arbor District Library’s summer game website. The game kicked off on June 13. (Image links to

Months in the works, the project involves adding new doors and a redesigned facade facing South Fifth Avenue, along with changes to address accessibility issues. O’Neal will bring back a proposal for a guaranteed maximum cost for the work, which the board will be asked to approve at its July 21 meeting. Construction is expected to begin after the art fairs in late July.

The board was also briefed on the start of the annual summer game, which launched on June 13. The board meeting was held at the Traverwood branch, with a game code for 500 points for those who attended. Very few people attended the meeting, however, and no one spoke during the two opportunities for public commentary.

The board got its usual updates on finances, events and library statistics. Trustees also approved resolutions of thanks for three outgoing members of the Friends of the AADL board: Pat McDonald, Mary Kay Cotter and Fred Meyer.

During the meeting, Parker announced that Eli Neiburger has been promoted to deputy director. He received a round of applause from the board. He has previously served as AADL’s associate director of IT and product development.

Responding to a follow-up query from The Chronicle, Parker said Neiburger will be responsible for all departments other than finance, facilities and human resources. AADL has an active search underway for a chief financial officer, who will have responsibility for those three areas.

The change follows the departure of three key staff positions earlier this year. Ken Nieman, former associate director of finance, HR and operations, left in May for a job as CFO at the public library in Sonomo County, California. Former human resources manager DeAnn Doll, who’d been with AADL for about 15 years, also left in May – she’s now director of human resources for Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida. And Celeste Choate – AADL’s former associate director of services, collections and access – was hired as executive director of the Urbana Free Library in Urbana, Illinois. She started that new job in April.

At the end of the June 16 meeting, board president Prue Rosenthal praised Parker and Neiburger for the extra work they’ve taken on during these transitions, and for making the changes seem seamless to patrons and the board. [Full Story]

Candidate Forum: June 19, 2014

Arrowwood Hills Cooperative Housing, located off Pontiac Trail, will be hosting a forum for candidates for local office starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Invited have been  Ward 1 city council Democratic primary candidates who will appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot: incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams. Arrowwood is located in Ward 1.

Also invited are mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary: Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman.

Candidates for the Ann Arbor Public School Board in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election have also been invited: Patricia Manley and Don Wilkerson.

The format of the forum will include opportunities for the candidates to state their positions and to field questions from the audience.

Jackson Ave. Drive-Thru Moves to Council

A new drive-thru restaurant on Jackson Avenue – near the I-94 interchange – will be moving ahead, following action by the Ann Arbor planning commission at its June 17, 2014 meeting.

2625 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of 2625 Jackson Ave.

The commission recommended approval of a site plan for 2625 Jackson, on the southeast corner of Jackson and I-94, and just north of the Westgate Shopping Center. The plan calls for demolishing the existing one-story service station and auto repair shop and constructing a single building with a 1,820-square-foot drive-thru restaurant and 3,220-square-foot retail center. The gas pump islands and canopy will be removed. … [Full Story]

State St. Apartment Project Moves Ahead

A proposed 78-unit apartment project on South State Street took another step forward, following action at the June 17, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission.

South State Village, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of State Street Village site.

Commissioners recommended approval of a site plan, development agreement and rezoning for the State Street Village, a $10 million project put forward by Ann Arbor-based McKinley Inc. at 2221-2223 S. State St. The plan calls for constructing two 4-story apartment buildings at the rear of the site, totaling 112,262 square feet, with 38 units each. Another 2,027 square foot building – for a leasing office with two … [Full Story]

North Maple Low-Income Housing Gets OK

After being postponed at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s June 3, 2014 meeting, a proposal by the Ann Arbor housing commission to expand low-income housing on North Maple Road has been recommended for approval.

North Maple Estates, Ann Arbor housing commission, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of North Maple Estates site, outlined in green.

At its meeting on June 17, planning commissioners recommended rezoning a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). Commissioners also recommended a site plan and development agreement for the project – part of a major renovation effort by the Ann Arbor housing … [Full Story]

Planning Group Grants Jesuit Request

On a 7-1 vote, the Ann Arbor planning commission has cleared the way for a group of up to six members of the Ann Arbor Jesuit Community to live in a single-family home at 1919 Wayne St. The action came at the commission’s June 17 meeting, when commissioners reconsidered an item that they had initially rejected on June 3, 2014.

The meeting included a public hearing that lasted about an hour, with the majority of speakers supporting the request. More than 100 people attended the meeting, many of them wearing stickers that stated “I Proudly Support The Jesuits.”

The Jesuits had requested a special exception use to allow a “functional family” to live in a house zoned R1C (single-family dwelling). Without the special … [Full Story]

Newport Road at Riverwood

A giant of Newport Road in the early 1970s. [photo 1] The very top had mostly broken off as it died so it was much shorter in the end. [photo 2 ] With a shove [photo 3] late in the afternoon [photo 4] [photo 5 ], it made a mighty mess, taking part of the tree across the road with it [photo 6]. We’re still working on an exact age, but a neighbor identified the black lines as spalting [photo 7].

E. Madison & Division

I’ve watched many wrong-way drivers on Madison, but not one stopped by police, until now.

Downtown Zoning Changes Get Initial OK

At its June 16, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to changes in two parts of the zoning code affecting the parcel at 425 S. Main, on the southeast corner of Main and William streets. Initial approval was given to rezoning from D1 to D2, with an amended height limit – of 60 feet. The original height limit in the ordinance considered by the council was 100 feet.

Because these are changes to the zoning code, which is expressed in city ordinances, the council’s action needs a second and final vote at a future meeting, in order to be enacted.

[Full Story]

Council Tables Ann Arbor SPARK Contract

The $75,000 annual contract with Ann Arbor SPARK for economic development services has been tabled by the Ann Arbor city council. The 6-5 vote by the council at its June 16, 2014 meeting came after 10 minutes of deliberations, with support from Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), and Jane Lumm (Ward 2).

The abbreviated discussion was the result of the fact that a motion to table – as contrasted to a motion to postpone to a date certain – is not debatable. So once the motion was made, the council immediately voted. The motion to table was made by Eaton, who said it could be taken up … [Full Story]

City Provides $37.5K for Housing Study

The city of Ann Arbor will be contributing $37,500 from the affordable housing trust fund to support a housing needs assessment to be conducted by Washtenaw County. City council action came at its June 16, 2014 meeting.

The council deliberations included discussion of the policy on eligible expenditures from the fund – which some councilmembers felt should be restricted to capital expenditures for affordable housing units. However, the current policy allows for funding of analysis and feasibility studies.

A bid by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) to draw the money from the general fund instead of the affordable housing trust fund failed on a 5-6 vote, getting support only from Kunselman, Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), … [Full Story]

Liberty Plaza Redesign Referred To Parks Group

The future of Liberty Plaza, a park in downtown Ann Arbor at the corner of Division and Liberty streets, will receive some added attention from the park advisory commission, as a result city council action on June 16, 2014.

The resolution considered by the council would have directed the city administrator to “work collaboratively with the property owners adjacent to and near Liberty Plaza, the general public, PAC [park advisory commission], the Ann Arbor District Library, and the DDA to develop a conceptual design for an improved Liberty Plaza…” The resolution was sponsored by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), mayor John Hieftje, Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1).

But after nearly an hour of debate, the council voted to refer … [Full Story]

Recycling Pilot OK’d for Multi-Family Units

A two-year $95,694 contract with Recycle Ann Arbor for a recycling incentive program for multi-family residential units has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council at its June 16, 2014 meeting. Such a pilot program is included in the city’s solid waste plan, which the city council adopted at its Oct. 7, 2013 meeting.

The solid waste plan includes evaluating methods to increase recycling participation through pilot programs. Among those methods is the introduction of a recycling incentive program for multi‐family housing units. The city council discontinued the RecycleBank incentive program for single-family residential units with a vote on May 22, 2012, which eliminated funding for the RecycleBank program in the FY 2013 budget. After two years … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Ped Task Force Gets Consultant

A $75,000 contract with The Greenway Collaborative Inc. – to support the work of Ann Arbor’s pedestrian safety and access task force as a facilitator – has been approved by the city council. Action by the council came at its June 16, 2014 meeting.

The task force was established through a council resolution passed on Nov. 18, 2013. Confirmed as members of the task force on Jan. 21, 2014 were: Vivienne Armentrout, Neal Elyakin, Linda Diane Feldt, Jim Rees, Anthony Pinnell, Sarah Pressprich Gryniewicz, Kenneth Clark, Scott Campbell, and Owen Jansson.

The group has begun to meet and has elected Feldt to chair the task force. The resolution on the council’s June 16 meeting agenda comes after the council … [Full Story]

Funding OK’d for Court Programs

Several items related to the criminal justice system, specifically for some of the specialty courts operated by the 15th District Court, were given approval by the Ann Arbor city council at its June 16, 2014 meeting.

As part of its consent agenda, the council approved an amendment to a $76,242 contract with Washtenaw County Community Support & Treatment Services – for mental health treatment services to people who are participating in the sobriety court and the mental health court.

The council also approved a $44,200 amendment to a contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office to provide drug abuse screening and monitoring services for the mental health court. Also getting approval on June 16 was a $108,174 amendment to a contract … [Full Story]

Council OKs DDA Budget Adjustment

A routine fiscal-year-end budget adjustment for the Ann Arbor DDA has been given approval by the Ann Arbor city council. The council’s action came at its June 16, 2014 meeting.

The DDA board had approved the adjustment at its June 4, 2014 meeting. The main part of the adjustment is a $1.6 million payment made for the First & Washington parking garage, which is part of the City Apartments project. The amount was budgeted by the DDA for last year, but not paid until this year.

The rest of the adjustment is attributable to expenditures out of the DDA’s housing fund – $500,000 of it to support Ann Arbor Housing Commission projects. The remaining $37,500 went to support a countywide housing … [Full Story]

Larchmont Traffic Calming OK’d

A traffic calming project on Larchmont Drive at a cost of  $8,800 has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council. The council’s action came at its June 16, 2014 meeting. The action included an appropriation for five other traffic calming projects, totaling $55,000.

Larchmont traffic calming proposal: Three speed humps.

Larchmont traffic calming proposal: Three speed humps.

The approval of this project comes in the context of the council’s budget deliberations last month, when an amendment was offered but rejected by the council that would have cut the FY 2015 budget allocation for art administration from $80,000 to $40,000 and put the $40,000 is savings toward traffic calming projects. The … [Full Story]

Four Sidewalk Projects Move Forward

Four different special-assessed sidewalk construction projects appeared on the Ann Arbor city council’s June 16, 2014 agenda: Two public hearings were held, for projects on Scio Church and Barton Drive. In addition, two resolutions were approved, setting public hearings for future meetings – for Pontiac Trail on July 21 and Stone School Road on July 7.

The Pontiac Trail project was the subject of two agenda items – one to direct the assessor to prepare an assessment roll, and another to set a public hearing on the special assessment for July 21. The assessable cost is $72,218. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, sidewalk construction would be done as part of the reconstruction of Pontiac Trail beginning just north of … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor to Get New HR and Payroll Software

A $570,900 contract with NuView Inc. to replace the city’s human resource and payroll system has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council. Action came at the council’s June 16, 2014 meeting.

The staff memo accompanying the item explains why the existing software, acquired in 2007, is being replaced:
In 2007, the City installed a Human Resource and Payroll system called Ultipro, by Ultimate Software. The Ultipro system included modules for Recruiting, Benefits Administration, Human Resource Administration and Payroll. The City has experienced a variety of issues related to the underlying database architecture utilized by Ultimate Software. In addition, due to changes such as new legislative requirements, the increase in recruiting volume and the increase in manual data entry involved in … [Full Story]