Pedaling through the intersection of Washington and Third heading into downtown, I noticed a Greyhound bus turning off Huron onto Third Street, then east on Washington past the Y. As I pedaled under the RR bridge, I wondered: How tall is the bus behind me? I stopped on the far side of the bridge. Bus had stopped short of it, backed up, was attempting a turnaround maneuver using 415 W. Washington parking lot. [photo]
The city of Ann Arbor has responded to a show cause order from federal judge Lawrence Zatkoff by giving arguments that the city should not be found in contempt of court – for sending out nearly 400 absentee ballots that omitted the name of one of the candidates in the Ward 3 Democratic primary. [July 23, 2014 city of Ann Arbor response to Show Cause Order]
Last week the court had essentially ordered the city to present an explanation for the fact that the city clerk sent out 392 absentee ballots for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election that did not contain Bob Dascola’s name – after the court had earlier ruled that the city’s eligibility requirements could not be …
Patrol car ambulance at the barber in Nickels Arcade. [photo]
Return of the Blimp. [photo]
Earlier this month, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority executive director Susan Pollay received a 5% raise from the DDA board. That brought her annual compensation to $114,570.
The procedure used this year by the board to award Pollay a salary increase appears to have conformed completely with the requirements of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act (OMA).
However, that procedure was different from the one used to award raises to Pollay in each of the two previous years.
Those raises worked out to 8% and 6.7%, respectively. In each of the two previous years, the decision to award Pollay those raises appears to have been made in a way that is contrary to the most basic requirement of Michigan’s OMA: “All decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public.”
That conclusion is based on records produced by the DDA to The Chronicle in response to requests made under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as records the DDA was not able to produce.
The analysis below begins with an overview.
In a ruling from federal judge Lawrence Zatkoff, the city of Ann Arbor has been ordered not to count votes in the Ward 3 city council primary race that were cast on misprinted absentee ballots – which omitted the name of one of the candidates. The order was issued on July 22, 2014. [.pdf of July 22, 2014 order]
The ruling makes clear that votes in races other than the Ward 3 city council race can be counted from the misprinted ballots. In-person voting takes place on Aug. 5, 2014.
That ruling came in response to a motion filed by Ward 3 candidate Bob Dascola’s attorney, Tom Wieder, on July 7, 2014, asking that the city be enjoined from counting votes in …
As a result of city council action on July 21, 2014, Ann Arbor’s city administrator will inquire with the respective owners about the availability of two parcels for purchase by the city – 2805 Burton Road, located just west of US-23, and 312 Glendale Road, on the city’s west side, just south of Jackson Road.
After a federal judge ruled earlier this year that eligibility requirements for elected officers in the city of Ann Arbor’s charter are not legally enforceable, the city council has now voted to put eligibility requirements on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot for voters to decide.
Action came at the council’s July 21, 2014 meeting. The council had one additional meeting on its calendar at which it could have voted to place the resolution on the ballot – on Aug. 7. That’s the last council meeting before the Aug. 12 deadline for certifying ballot language to the Washtenaw County clerk’s office.
The existing charter language imposes a one-year durational requirement of voter registration on elected and appointed officials in the city. But the …
The Ann Arbor city council’s July 21, 2014 meeting featured action on a raft of infrastructure items – from street and sidewalk construction and bridge inspections to the purchase of pumps for the wastewater treatment facility.
The council approved a $1,537,608 construction contract with Bailey Excavating Inc. for the Springwater subdivision improvements project. That work will cover the reconstruction of streets and some utilities – on Butternut Street from Cardinal Avenue to Springbrook Avenue, and Nordman Avenue from Packard Road to Redwood Avenue.
Funding for the project will be drawn from the street millage fund ($883,316), stormwater fund ($903,065), and drinking water funds ($489,574) for a total project cost of $2,275,955.
Funding from the drinking water and stormwater funds is based on the …
By the time of the Ann Arbor city council’s July 21, 2014 meeting, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) had withdrawn a resolution he’d sponsored on the agenda – which would have listed the city-owned 415 W. Washington property for sale and allocated $250,000 toward developing a master plan for the Allen Creek Greenway.
Warpehoski had sponsored the item along with mayor John Hieftje, with the title “Resolution to List for Sale 415 W. Washington and Appropriate Funds for Allen Creek Greenway Master Plan.”
As of mid-day Friday, July 18, no text or memo was included in the resolution. Warpehoski responded to an emailed query from The Chronicle by saying that the resolution might be pulled, depending on the outcome of a meeting of …
Authorization has been given by the Ann Arbor city council to purchase the parcel at 3401 Platt Road. The transaction, made on behalf of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, was approved at the city council’s July 21, 2014 meeting.
The parcel is adjacent to Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC) properties that AAHC is planning to reconstruct.
Four units currently stand at …
A site plan for a new drive-thru restaurant on Jackson Avenue – near the I-94 interchange – has been given approval by the Ann Arbor city council. The planning commission had recommended approval at its June 17, 2014 meeting. The council gave its approval at its July 21, 2014 meeting.
The site is located at 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 …
A new site plan for Dusty’s Collision at 2310 South Industrial Highway, south of Jewett, has been given approval in Ann Arbor city council action taken on July 21, 2014.
The proposal calls for building a 30,537-square-foot, one-story auto collision repair facility on a parcel that’s currently vacant. A previous building at that location was torn down in 2013. The new building would include 5,285 square feet for office use, a waiting area of 5,227 square feet, and 20,025 square feet for the repair area and garage. The …
Initial approval of the rezoning of the land for the State Street Village project has been given approval by the Ann Arbor city council. The 4.5-acre parcel is proposed to be rezoned from M1 (limited industrial district) to O (office district).
Action on the initial approval came at the city council’s July 21, 2014 meeting. A vote on the final enactment of the rezoning and on the site plan for the project will come at a future council meeting.
A recommendation for the rezoning was given at the June 17, 2014 meeting of …
An amendment to the ordinance establishing the city’s environmental commission (EC) has been given final approval by the Ann Arbor city council. Action came at the council’s July 21, 2014 meeting. Initial approval was given on July 7, 2014.
The staff memo accompanying the ordinance changes summarizes them as follows. The ordinance amendment:
- clarifies that the councilmembers currently serving on the environmental commission nominate persons for “at-large” appointments, which are then approved by council resolution;
- clarifies that the planning commission, park advisory commission, and energy commission each designate a representative to the environmental commission without council approval and for a one-year term;
- clarifies that the 3-year terms should be equally staggered;
- removes references to the Leslie Science Center Advisory Board, which no longer exists;
- requires the …
Final approval to changes in two parts of the Ann Arbor city zoning code affecting the parcel at 425 S. Main, on the southeast corner of Main and William streets, has been postponed by the Ann Arbor city council. The council will take up the zoning question again at its second meeting in September – on Sept. 15.
The Ann Arbor District Library board has approved a $425,523 construction budget for renovations to the downtown library’s front entrance, at 343 S. Fifth Ave. The action took place at the board’s July 21, 2014 meeting.
The board also increased the capital outlays line item in the 2014-2015 budget by that same amount to cover the work, transferring it from the library’s fund balance. As of June 30, the fund balance stood at $8.17 million.
The construction budget was presented by O’Neal Construction Inc. At its June 16, 2014 meeting, the board had voted to hire O’Neal for construction management of these renovations. The project involves adding new doors and a redesigned facade facing South Fifth Avenue, along with changes to address …
The Ann Arbor District Library board has authorized a $93,598 contract with Schindler Elevator Corp. to repair the public elevator at the downtown library, located at 343 S. Fifth Ave. The unanimous vote came during the board’s July 21, 2014 meeting.
The elevator has been broken and out of commission since this spring. AADL director Josie Parker had reported the situation at the board’s May 19, 2014 meeting, estimating it would cost about $100,000 to repair. It’s the same problem that took the freight elevator out of commission a couple of years ago. Leaks had developed in the hydraulic piston, causing it to fail a weight test.
The resolution authorizing the contract designates $57,988 for elevator repair, plus $35,610 for “well drilling (after-drill) …
At its July 21, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor District Library board approved five adjustments to the 2013-14 budget, for the prior fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The adjustments totaled $96,300.
Eli Neiburger, AADL’s deputy director, had previously indicated that such adjustments would be necessary.
The resolution approved unanimously on July 21 authorized transfers in the following line items:
- $22,500 from capital outlays to supplies.
- $49,800 from capital outlays to software licenses/maintenance.
- $17,000 from utilities to purchased services.
- $6,500 from utilities to copier expense.
- $500 from utilities to library programming.
This brief was filed from the fourth-floor boardroom of the downtown library at 343 S. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow.
Cyclist (Jeannine Palms) with campaign sign for Ward 3 council candidate Samuel McMullen affixed to bicycle. [photo]
Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s July 21, 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.
Outcomes from the meeting are also reported in the Civic News Ticker.
A common theme among several items on the Ann Arbor city council’s July 21, 2014 agenda is infrastructure. That includes physical infrastructure – like roads, sidewalks, bridges and buildings. But it also includes legal infrastructure. The council will be considering a resolution that would put a charter amendment in front of voters for the Nov. 4 election. The amendment would establish eligibility requirements for elected officials, after a federal court ruled earlier this year that the existing charter requirements are not legally enforceable.
Another significant item that was initially placed on the July 21 agenda – but is expected to be withdrawn by its sponsor, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) – is a resolution that would direct the city administrator to list the 415 W. Washington property for sale.
Two other land acquisition items on the agenda would put the city on the purchasing end. A resolution sponsored by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) would inquire with the owner of 2805 Burton Road, located just west of US-23, about whether it is available for purchase by the city. It’s the site of a long-in-the-works affordable housing project that has never started construction.
And a resolution sponsored by Margie Teall (Ward 4) would authorize the purchase of the property at 3401 Platt Road on behalf of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC). Cost of the purchase would be $195,000, to be reimbursed to the city by AAHC. The AAHC is undertaking reconstruction of its properties adjoining this parcel, and this acquisition would facilitate that.
The July 21 meeting is the council’s last one before the Tuesday, Aug. 5 primary elections. The meeting that week is shifted from Monday to Thursday, and will fall on Aug. 7.
Physical infrastructure on the agenda includes a $1,537,608 construction contract with Bailey Excavating Inc. for the Springwater subdivision improvements project. That work will cover the reconstruction of streets and some utilities – on Butternut Street from Cardinal Avenue to Springbrook Avenue, and Nordman Avenue from Packard Road to Redwood Avenue.
Another road reconstruction project on the agenda is a $3,445,200 agreement with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) for the Stone School Road improvements project – between I-94 and Ellsworth Road. The planned work consists of reconstructing Stone School Road as a two-lane road with on-street bike lanes and concrete curb and gutter.
A second agreement with MDOT, which will require about $250,000 of local funding, will establish the city as construction manager for the construction of sidewalks on the south side of Scio Church Road between Delaware Drive and Maple Road, and on the south side of Barton Drive from about 250 feet west of Chandler Road to Longshore Drive. A portion of the funding for both projects will be derived from a special assessment of adjoining property owners.
Final approval of a special assessment for an additional sidewalk construction project also appears on the agenda. The sidewalk construction will be done as part of the reconstruction of Pontiac Trail beginning just north of Skydale Drive to just south of the bridge over M-14.
On July 21 the council will also be asked to approve a $104,107 contract with DLZ Michigan Inc. for the regular bridge inspection program. That includes the section of the Library Lane parking structure that is located under Fifth Avenue.
Six new pumps for the wastewater treatment plant to be purchased from Premier Pump Inc. for $425,682 is another agenda item.
With respect to legal infrastructure, a federal judge ruled earlier this year that eligibility requirements for elected officers in the city of Ann Arbor’s charter are not legally enforceable. On the council’s July 21 agenda is a resolution that would place new charter requirements on the ballot for voters to decide in the Nov. 4, 2014 election. The current charter language imposes one-year durational requirements on voter registration in the city and residency in the ward that a potential councilmember would like to represent. For mayor, the current requirement is simply a one-year durational requirement for voter registration in the city. That one year is calculated from the time an elected official takes office. The new requirements would impose a voter registration requirement at the time paperwork is submitted to qualify for the ballot.
Several items related to development also appear on the council’s July 21 agenda. The council will consider 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 council will also consider a site plan for Dusty’s Collision at 2310 South Industrial Highway, south of Jewett. The proposal calls for building a 30,537-square-foot, one-story auto collision repair facility on a parcel that’s currently vacant. The new building would include 5,285 square feet for office use, a waiting area of 5,227 square feet, and 20,025 square feet for the repair area and garage.
For State Street Village – a proposed 78-unit apartment project that will eventually appear on the council’s agenda – the council will consider giving initial approval at its July 21 meeting to the rezoning of the land. The 4.5-acre parcel would be rezoned from M1 (limited industrial district) to O (office district).
Not tied to any particular project on the July 21 agenda is final consideration by the council of a change to downtown zoning. The item is confined to a 1.1-acre parcel at 425 S. Main St. at the southeast corner of William and Main. The council gave initial approval of the rezoning – from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface) – at its June 16 meeting that followed a complex series of votes. At the same meeting, the council also gave initial approval to a change to the overlay character district for the parcel, after amending the height limit – from 100 feet to 60 feet. Zoning changes require two votes by the council, taken at separate meetings, because they are changes to the city’s ordinances.
Another ordinance change on the July 21 agenda – which is getting final consideration by the council – is one that clarifies the composition and appointment process for the city’s environmental commission. Related thematically to that item is a resolution that clarifies the composition of the city’s commission on disability issues.
The consent agenda for July 21 includes an item that indicates the approach of fall – approval of the change to traffic patterns for the Aug. 27-29 University of Michigan student move-in.
This article includes more details for many of these agenda items. Information on other agenda items is 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.
The sidewalk on the south side of Washington between First and Ashley is finally open. No more detouring around the apartment building construction.
Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (July 15, 2014): Commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a new condo project near downtown – 121 Kingsley West, at Kingsley and Ashley. But because recommendations of approval require six votes – and only five commissioners were present – the development will be forwarded with a recommendation of denial.
Developer Tom Fitzsimmons and his partners Peter Allen and Mark Berg were assured that the city council would be informed of the circumstances under which the vote was taken.
The plans call for 22 condos in two new structures and an existing building. The request is for approval of a site plan, development agreement and rezoning – from a planned unit development (PUD) to D2 (downtown interface district). The PUD, which has expired, was for a larger development on that same site that was never built – Peter Allen’s Kingsley Lane.
The tallest building at 121 Kingsley West would be 58.4 feet high – just under the 60-foot height limit for D2 zoning.
In other action on July 15, commissioners elected new officers for the coming fiscal year, which began on July 1. Wendy Woods was unanimously elected to serve as the commission’s chair, replacing Kirk Westphal. She has served as vice chair for the past two years. Ken Clein, who has served as secretary, was elected vice chair, replacing Woods in that position. Westphal reported that Jeremy Peters had expressed interest in serving as secretary, though he did not attend the July 15 meeting. Peters was unanimously elected to that position. None of the officer elections were contested.
Planning commissioners also unanimously adopted a master plan resolution and list of resource documents used to support the master plan. This is part of an annual evaluation of the master plan that’s required by the commission’s bylaws. There are no significant changes. Separately, they voted to approve the FY 2015 work program, which planning manager Wendy Rampson characterized as ambitious.
The Washtenaw County Democratic Party is hosting a forum for candidates in county judicial races this morning (July 19, 2014) at 10 a.m. at the Pittsfield Township Hall on Michigan Avenue near Platt Road.
The Chronicle plans to provide a live audio broadcast from the event. The embedded live-stream player below will be replaced with an audio recording after the event is over.
Two contested races will appear on the ballot for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary – one for the circuit court and the other for the probate court.
The circuit court tries felonies and criminal matters, family law, and civil disputes where claims are greater than $25,000. However, the docket for this particular seat on the circuit court is heavily weighted …
After a year, First Baptist Church finally has its new slate roof and copper cornices, gutters and downspouts completed. This 1880 building is the church’s third location since its founding in 1827. [photo]
Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority finds a solution all by itself. [Bus with ad wrap: "Solutions" on a tow truck.] [photo]
Table for 12? [Sign indicates: "Reserved Weber's Inn and Restaurant Shuttle Bus. Others will be towed."] [photo]
How do you get to the art fair?
(c) the Bentley?