Near the scooter parking behind the \aut\ Bar, there’s a posterboard on the ground with handwritten lyrics to Pippin’s “Time to Start Living.” [photo]
Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 19, 2014): Action taken by planning commissioners at its mid-August meeting will allow two projects to move forward: a new “modern lifestyle health spa” on West Liberty; and a new location for the Community Music School of Ann Arbor.
Both projects required approval of a special exception use from the commission, because the zoning doesn’t allow those uses without it.
It was the health spa/fitness center proposal that drew the most scrutiny from commissioners. John and Jackie Farah want to convert part of an existing office building at 3100 W. Liberty into a facility that would provide personalized training and guidance to help people develop healthier lifestyles. Jackie Farah stressed that the focus is on wellness, not on athletic fitness. The center would be in the same complex as John Farah’s dental practice.
Six people spoke during a public hearing on this project, including the Farahs as well as nearby residents. Concerns from neighbors included the disturbances that additional use of this site would have on their properties. Also speaking against the project was Brian Eisner, owner of the nearby Liberty Athletic Club, who expressed concern about increased traffic on West Liberty. The Farahs stressed that their effort would not increase traffic or negatively impact the residential neighbors.
During deliberations, commissioners considered putting limits on the hours of operation or restricting use to appointments only, but ultimately rejected those constraints. However, they did amend the special exception use to limit the amount of square footage that could be used for fitness center activities – to 9,000 square feet. It does not require additional city council approval.
The other special exception use was granted to the Community Music School of Ann Arbor, allowing it to operate at 1289 Jewett Ave., between South Industrial and Packard. The music school will share the building of Clonlara School, a private K-12 educational institution.
Commissioners also recommended the annexation and zoning of 2115 Victoria Circle, a half-acre vacant site west of Newport and north of M-14. If approved by the city council, the property would be annexed from Ann Arbor Township and zoned R1A (single family dwelling).
This sunflower @roosroast is 10′3″. This barista is 5″2′. The flowers rule over all! [photo]
Fiji House: a pool on a hill on Hill. [photo]
The council’s first regular meeting in September was shifted from Monday to Tuesday in order to accommodate the Labor Day holiday.
The Sept. 2 agenda is relatively light and is dominated by land use and development issues, many of them related to the Ann Arbor housing commission’s (AAHC) extensive plan to renovate many of its existing properties.
In other significant business, the council will be considering a direction to the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation networking companies like Uber and Lyft.
And the council will consider authorizing up to a 15-year extension of the local development finance authority (LDFA), based on a collaboration with a satellite arrangement in Adrian and Tecumseh.
Separate from site plan and zoning issues associated with the AAHC’s renovations, the council will also be considering transferring $729,879 from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor housing commission. The fund transfer would support the “West Arbor” portion of the renovation plan. That would leave a $850,920 balance in the trust fund. The trust fund’s current balance stems largely from the council’s decision late last year – on Dec. 16, 2013 – to deposit into the trust fund the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot.
Two projects associated with the West Arbor part of the AAHC plan appear on the council’s Sept. 2 agenda. First, the council will consider initial approval of rezoning for the 3451 Platt Road property – from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). That was forwarded to the council with a recommendation of approval from the planning commission. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site’s location in the floodplain and stormwater management. The site plan may be able to “catch up” to the zoning approval – because the council will need to give the rezoning a second and final approval at a meeting following the Sept. 2 session.
Second, the North Maple Estates site plan, which requires just one council vote, will be considered on Sept. 2. The rezoning required for the AAHC project – a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road – has already been given final approval by the city council, at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning was changed from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site plan, which was shifted to the Sept. 2 agenda, calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms.
A non-AAHC land development item on the council’s Sept. 2 agenda is final approval of the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive. The rezoning would change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). The site plan, which also appears on the Sept. 2 agenda, calls for building a three-story, 40,786-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 3161 and 3169 Research Park Drive, which are owned and occupied by the nonprofit.
Even though the council rejected one proposed change to its taxicab ordinance at its Aug. 18 meeting – which would have regulated all drivers for hire in the city – initial approval was given to another change in the part of the ordinance that regulates rates. So the council will be giving final consideration to that change on Sept 2. The change would establish certain parameters to mitigate possible negative consequences to the setting of a very high maximum allowable taxicab rate, under which taxicab companies might eventually compete. Those parameters include a requirement that a taxicab company commit to a single rate annually and that the rate be advertised in a vehicle with signage in letters one-inch tall.
As an alternative to requiring all drivers for hire to be registered with the city and to affix commercial plates to their vehicles, the council will be considering whether to establish operating agreements with companies like Uber and Lyft. The council’s Sept. 2 agenda includes a resolution that would direct the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies (TNCs) in lieu of developing a local law. The resolution does not define in specific terms what a TNC is.
In other business on Sept. 2, the council will be considering a large contract with Ultimate Software Group, worth $250,000 for payroll software to cover the period as the city transitions to NuView, a different software system. Another large contract to be considered by the council on Sept. 2 is with Northwest Consultants Inc. for $930,822 – to do the design work for the Stadium Boulevard reconstruction project from Kipke Drive to Hutchins.
A smaller contract to be considered by the council, as part of the consent agenda, is with Hinshon Environmental Consulting Inc. for additional facilitation services for the technical oversight and advisory group (TOAG). That group is overseeing and coordinating multiple wet weather-related projects in the city. The $10,000 contract amendment would bring the total contract value to $35,000.
The council will also consider the confirmation of several nominations to boards and commissions, including a reappointment of John Splitt to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. It would be Splitt’s third four-year term on the board.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Monday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
Educators setting up at Liberty Plaza for a rally in support of public schools – 5:30 p.m. start. [photo]
Abandoned cardboard sign on the sidewalk, apparently left by someone who needed money to travel to Texas. [photo]
Rhonda Foxworth and Matt Altruda setting up Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch at Liberty Plaza. Great day for last of this season’s series. Today’s show: The Alternate Routes.
At an Aug. 27, 2014 hearing, judge Donald Shelton denied two of three procedural motions by plaintiffs in the footing drain disconnection lawsuit that was filed against the city of Ann Arbor in February. He delaying ruling on a third motion.
The case involves a claim of unconstitutional takings – inverse condemnation. Plaintiffs in the case, Yu v. City of Ann Arbor, are three Ann Arbor residents who had their footing drains disconnected under the city FDD program.
On his last motion day before retirement, Shelton chose to deny a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office in its representation of the city. That motion was based on the plaintiffs’ contention that testimony on non-privileged matters would be required of assistant city attorney Abigail Elias.
Shelton’s ruling to deny the motion to disqualify Elias came only after Elias answered what Shelton portrayed as the key question: Would the city’s defense of the lawsuit depend on a contention that the ordinance was enacted based on the opinion of counsel? Elias indicated that she did not think it was relevant, but Shelton insisted on an answer, telling her that if the city wanted to use that as part of its defense, “you’re out of here.” So Elias told Shelton the city would not be using that as part of its defense. Shelton later made clear that such a defense would not be allowed.
In making his ruling on the disqualification issue, Shelton appeared to indicate that he did not think relevant factors in the case included the city’s stated rationale for enacting the FDD ordinance – on grounds of public safety health and welfare – or the efficacy of the ordinance in reducing sanitary sewer overflows and backups. The case was not about whether the FDD ordinance was a good idea, he said, but rather about whether it was a lawful idea.
Shelton also denied a motion to reassign the case away from judge Timothy Connors – who will be taking over all of Shelton’s civil cases after Shelton’s last day as judge on Aug. 29. On that motion, Shelton pointed out that he did not have the power to grant it. He declined to say anything about what he thought regarding the merits of the motion, and indicated that such a motion should go through the regular disqualification process. That entails making a motion in front of the judge to be disqualified – and if the judge declines to disqualify himself, possibly appealing to the chief judge of the circuit court, who is David Swartz.
However, Shelton delayed ruling on a third motion, on sanctions against the city’s attorneys – for making statements in a brief in support of summary disposition that plaintiffs contend did not have a basis well-grounded in fact. Shelton questioned assistant city attorney Abigail Elias closely on the matter, and appeared to indicate some agreement with plaintiffs’ contention that the city had, in its brief filed with the court, mischaracterized the plaintiffs’ position. And during back-and-forth with Shelton, Elias herself stopped just short of admitting that her choice of the word “concede” was a misrepresentation of the plaintiffs’ legal position – something she described as possibly an overstatement in the course of zealous representation of her client.
Shelton indicated that the motion on sanctions – in connection with the brief on summary disposition – should be heard at the same time the motion on summary disposition is heard. So Shelton indicated he would be adjourning that motion until Sept. 18. That hearing on summary disposition is scheduled before Connors.
No substantive matters have yet been decided in the case, which the city first removed to federal court. However, the plaintiffs moved for remand from the federal court back to the circuit court – a motion that was granted by judge Avern Cohn in late May. When the case returned to the circuit court, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was heard and denied by Shelton in early July. The city had filed a motion for summary disposition on June 9, which was originally scheduled for July 30. It was subsequently rescheduled by the city for Aug. 13, and then shifted by the city again to Sept. 18 – which is after Shelton’s scheduled retirement.
When Shelton ruled on the motions after listening to each side, he prefaced the ruling with some general commentary reflecting his 24 years of experience as a judge, which were coming to an end. That commentary highlighted the idea of “winnowing” out the extraneous issues introduced by lawyers on both sides to focus on what a case was actually about.
For the disqualification issue, Shelton wanted to know two things: What specific non-privileged testimony, relevant to the central issue of the case, would be required from Elias? Would the city use as part of its defense the claim that the ordinance had been enacted based upon the opinion of legal counsel? For the judge reassignment issue, the question Shelton identified and answered himself was: Do I have the power to decide this motion? And for the motion on sanctions, Shelton indicated that the central question was: When and in what context should the motion be decided?
A more detailed report of the proceedings is provided below. Dan O’Brien of Woods Oviatt Gilman in Rochester, New York was asked by Shelton to argue all motions in one speaking turn, which he did in the following order: (1) motion to disqualify; (2) motion to reassign away from Connors; and (3) motion for sanctions.
At an Aug. 27, 2014 hearing, judge Donald Shelton has refused to grant two of three motions by plaintiffs in the footing drain disconnection lawsuit that was filed in February of this year.
On his last motion day before retirement, Shelton chose to deny a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office in its representation of the city. He also declined to rule on the merits of a motion to reassign the case away from judge Timothy Connors – who will be taking over all of Shelton’s civil cases after Shelton’s retirement at the end of this week. On that motion, Shelton pointed out in denying it that he did not have the power to grant it and indicated that such …
Minor storm damage. The joggers are just running under the tape. [photo]
Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meeting (Aug. 21, 2014): The meeting began with CEO Michael Ford’s formal announcement of news that board members and the public had already heard – that he was leaving the AAATA in mid-October to take the job as CEO of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. Ford had formally tendered his resignation that day. The four-county area of the RTA includes the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland as well as the city of Detroit.
Two items on the board’s voting agenda related at least indirectly to the leadership transition that the AAATA will be making. First, the board approved a resolution authorizing board chair Charles Griffith to appoint an ad hoc subcommittee to conduct a search for Ford’s replacement. The resolution approved by the board at its Aug. 21 meeting also authorized $50,000 for consulting services to help with the search.
Griffith said he has asked board members Anya Dale, Gillian Ream Gainsley and Eric Mahler to serve with him on the search committee, citing a desire to have a mix of board experience and geographic diversity represented on that group.
Second, the board approved the AAATA’s FY 2015 work plan, which will provide the basis for the FY 2015 budget. The budget will appear on the board’s Sept. 25 agenda for approval. The AAATA’s fiscal year runs from October through September. At the Aug. 21 meeting, Sue Gott credited Ford with developing the work plan, saying it would be valuable as a blueprint for the transition in leadership.
A major decision on the choice of bus technology might be made after Ford departs the AAATA in mid-October. Although the board approved a 5-year bus procurement contract with Gillig, and authorized an order for the first 27 of up to 60 buses called for in the 5-year contract, the board left the choice of drive-train technology open – between hybrid electric technology and clean diesel. The upfront capital cost difference is $200,000 per bus more for the hybrid technology. That final choice of technology will need to be made by the November board meeting.
Also at its Aug. 21 meeting, the board amended its pension plan to recognize same-sex marriages, which stemmed from a Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and the IRS ruling that resulted from that decision.
The board chose to delay approval of new service standards, which are a required element of AAATA’s Title VI compliance. The board can meet the Federal Transit Administration deadlines for submission of its Title VI materials if it approves the new service standards at its September board meeting.
Board members also received an update on the progress being made in a Michigan Dept. of Transportation environmental assessment of a project that could implement active traffic management (ATM) of the US-23 corridor. The project includes the idea of allowing vehicles to use the median shoulder during peak demand periods. The MDOT presentation included a visit from former AAATA board member Paul Ajegba, who is region engineer for MDOT’s University Region – a 10-county area that includes Livingston and Washtenaw counties. If The Chronicle publishes coverage of that presentation, it will be in a separate report.
The Aug. 21 meeting was held in the boardroom at the AAATA headquarters on South Industrial, instead of the usual location, which is the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library. The downtown library on South Fifth Avenue was closed in connection with the repair of its public elevator.
MICATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands) is reporting that two of its protesters have been arrested for locking their necks with bicycle U-locks to pipeline construction trucks being used for the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline expansion. [Source]
Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Aug. 19, 2014): Liberty Plaza was the focus of two items that appeared on PAC’s Aug. 19 agenda: (1) extension of a fee waiver for events held at Liberty Plaza; and (2) feedback in response to city council action, which addressed Liberty Plaza and the potential park atop the Library Lane underground parking structure.
Regarding feedback on Liberty Plaza and Library Lane, PAC unanimously passed a resolution to form a subcommittee to study issues related to those urban parks, and to allocate or obtain resources to oversee programming there for up to a year.
Based on that effort, the subcommittee would analyze the outcome and deliver recommendations to council next year – no later than October 2015. This resolution, drafted by PAC chair Ingrid Ault and vice chair Graydon Krapohl, had been emailed to commissioners earlier in the day but was not available to the public prior to the meeting. [.pdf of Aug. 19, 2014 Liberty Plaza resolution]
The Aug. 19 discussion also included comments from Matthew Altruda, who programs the Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch weekly summer concert series at Liberty Plaza. Ault had invited Altruda to the meeting to describe that effort, which is widely cited as a successful use of Liberty Plaza.
Regarding the fee waiver, PAC voted unanimously to extend the waiver through October 2015 – coordinating with the subcommittee work on Liberty Plaza and Library Lane.
Both Aug. 19 items – the feedback to city council (but with no accompanying resolution) and fee waiver – had originally appeared on PAC’s July 15, 2014 agenda, but were postponed because three commissioners were absent at that meeting.
In other action, PAC recommended approval of three three-year professional services agreements (PSAs) for engineering services in the parks and recreation unit – with SmithGroupJJR, Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc, and Tetra Tech Inc. The amount was not to exceed $150,000 annually per agreement.
The commission also elected David Santacroce as chair for the coming year, replacing Ingrid Ault in that position. Paige Morrison was elected as vice chair. Each vote was conducted by “secret ballot” as stipulated in PAC’s bylaws. The one-year terms begin Sept. 1.
One topic that did not appear on PAC’s Aug. 19 agenda was a review of the proposed four-year extension on a University of Michigan lease of three parking lots at Fuller Park. The city council – at its meeting the previous night, on Aug. 18 – had indicated an interest in having PAC take another look at the lease renewal, but parks and recreation manager Colin Smith told commissioners that he didn’t have additional details on the request.
During deliberations on Aug. 18, mayor John Hieftje had recommended postponing council action until early October, in order to give PAC two meetings during which they could reevaluate the lease agreement. PAC had already recommended approval of the lease, after discussing it at their July 15, 2014 meeting. The parliamentary option chosen by the council was to postpone, not to refer to PAC.
The two council representatives on PAC – Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) – chose somewhat different points of emphasis in their characterizations of the council’s Aug. 18 action on the Fuller Park lease. When Anglin told commissioners that the council wanted PAC to review the lease again, Taylor stressed that the council action was “a straight postponement” – not a vote to refer the item back to PAC. He added that the council was interested in hearing if PAC has any further thoughts on the use of the site.
The footing drain disconnection lawsuit filed against the city of Ann Arbor in late February has taken several procedural turns over the last six months, with virtually no issues on the merits of the case yet resolved.
The latest procedural issues now appear set to be decided on Aug. 27, 2014 – judge Donald Shelton’s final motion day before his retirement.
The case involves a claim of unconstitutional takings – inverse condemnation. Plaintiffs in the case, Yu v. City of Ann Arbor, are three Ann Arbor residents who had their footing drains disconnected under the city FDD program.
The procedural issues that could be decided next week include a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office from representing the city due to conflicts; a motion to sanction city attorneys for filing documents with statements that plaintiffs allege are not well-grounded in fact; and a motion to reassign the case to a judge other than Timothy Connors. All three motions were filed with the court on Wednesday, Aug. 20.
A dispute about whether those Aug. 20 filings were properly served upon the city is one of the issues Shelton could decide at the start of the hearing.
By way of background, the case was originally filed in the Washtenaw County 22nd circuit court and assigned to Shelton in late February. The city then removed the case to federal court. However, the plaintiffs moved for remand from the federal court back to the circuit court – a motion that was granted by judge Avern Cohn in late May.
When the case returned to the circuit court, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was heard and denied by Shelton in early July. The city had filed a motion for summary disposition on June 9, which was originally scheduled for July 30. It was subsequently rescheduled by the city for Aug. 13, and then shifted by the city again to Sept. 18 – which is after Shelton’s scheduled retirement.
According to the court administrator’s office, the case will not officially be reassigned to a different judge until Sept. 2. However, when The Chronicle inquired with the 22nd circuit court’s central scheduling office, the staff indicated that the plan was to reassign all of Shelton’s civil cases to Connors. So the city’s paperwork scheduling of the Sept. 18 hearing specifies Connors as the judge.
The Washtenaw County office of community & economic development and the Washtenaw Housing Alliance are seeking suggestions for sites that can be used during the upcoming winter months as warming spaces for the homeless.
In a press release issued on Aug. 22, the OCED described a list of specifications needed for these sites [.pdf of press release]:
- Include a single room to accommodate approximately 50 adults lying down on thick mats (approximately 1,500 square feet)
- Be accessible to limited-mobility individuals
- Have multiple, accessible bathrooms on site
- Ideally equipped with showers and/or a kitchen prep space
- Space should be available every night of the week (roughly 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) minimally from January 1 to March 31, 2015 – with potential to begin earlier than …
At the Aug. 18 Ann Arbor city council meeting, anti-Israel activists left council chambers mid-session. Their parting shot was to contend that the council cared more about deer than about people. The reference to deer was an allusion to an agenda item that allocated $20,000 for development of a deer management plan. It was approved by the council in a unanimous vote.
But this column is not about deer versus people. It’s about corporations versus people. Also football. Even the U.S. Constitution.
First, here’s some background. On Aug. 18, the anti-Israel activists had not been able to address the council during reserved public comment time at the start of the meeting – because the council rules stipulate that preference is given to speakers who want to address an agenda item. A boycott against Israel was not on the agenda.
So during that comment period, the council heard from five people who spoke in favor of spending the $20,000 on a deer management plan. The other five reserved slots were taken by: Thomas Partridge, who was officially signed up to talk about the planning commission’s work plan (one of the attachments in the clerk’s report); two people who signed up to talk about revisions to the taxicab ordinance; and two people who had signed up to talk about the lease agreement with the University of Michigan for three parking lots at Fuller Park.
That meant that anti-Israel activists were not able to reprise their demonstration at the previous council meeting, on Aug. 7, when eight of their group were signed up to speak. On that occasion, nearly all the commentary was complete. But then chants of “Boycott Israel” led mayor John Hieftje to recess the meeting. And he eventually decided to have Ann Arbor police clear the room of more than 50 activists. In this case, “clearing the room” translated into two officers telling the group’s leaders – Blaine Coleman and Mozghan Savabieasfahani – that they and their group had to leave. And after a few minutes, amid more loud chants and heated statements, the group left council chambers under their own power.
The contrast on obvious display at the Aug. 18 meeting was between two types of meeting attendees: (1) those who wanted to address the city council about an agenda item; and (2) those who wanted to address the council, but not on an agenda item.
That’s not the contrast I want to focus on. I want to focus on the contrast between two speakers who were alternates on the waiting list for reserved speaking time – both of whom wanted to address the council about an agenda item.
The two alternates were: Larry Baird, an Ann Arbor resident who signed up to talk about the Fuller Park lease agreement; and Michael White, a representative of Uber who was attending the meeting to speak against regulation of drivers for hire. Baird was slotted ahead of White on the alternate list.
For the past four years, The Chronicle has honored some remarkable people in this community with our annual Bezonki awards.
This year, we celebrated the 2014 winners with an open house on Aug. 15. The event was admittedly bittersweet, coming a week after our announcement that we plan to close this publication on Sept. 2, 2014.
But the awards are forward-looking, as well as an opportunity to recognize and honor the foundations that are being built to make our community strong. And this year’s winners are exceptional: Ryan Burns, the energy behind Ignite Ann Arbor; Linh and Dug Song, a couple committed to community-building; the Finding Your Political Voice program at Arrowwood Hills Cooperative; Mary Jo Callan, a leader in Washtenaw County government; developer Tom Fitzsimmons; and Jeannine Palms, on behalf of the many groups she’s a part of in the Buhr Park neighborhood.
Like the individuals and organizations that receive these awards, each of the six physical Bezonkis is unique, made in part with bits salvaged from equipment at the former Ann Arbor News – a nod to our profession’s past. They were crafted by local artist Alvey Jones, whose Bezonki cartoons are published monthly in The Chronicle.
The awards are unique in another way. Until this year, each winner of a Bezonki has been a steward of the physical award for a year. Winners in the past year hand it off to the next year’s winners. Our hope has been that the awards create connections year after year between people in the community – people who might not otherwise have crossed paths.
You can learn more about our past winners in The Chronicle’s archives. They’re an amazing group.
But as The Chronicle comes to a close, we have a new charge to this year’s winners. We’ve asked that they take responsibility for passing along their Bezonki to highlight the great work of others, as they encounter it in the coming months or years. We further asked that they convey this same message to the next steward of Bezonki, whoever that might be – so that the awards continue to create positive connections throughout our community. We’ve created an Ann Arbor LocalWiki page to keep track of the lineage.
Or maybe they’ll just stay on the shelves of this year’s winners – that would be fine, too. They deserve it.
The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board has authorized board chair Charles Griffith to appoint an ad hoc subcommittee to conduct a search for a replacement for outgoing CEO Michael Ford.
Ford will depart the AAATA in mid-October to take the post as the first CEO of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Ford formally tendered his resignation on Aug. 21, 2014.
The resolution approved by the board at its Aug. 21 meeting also approves $50,000 for consulting services to help with the search. At the Aug. 21 meeting, Griffith said the committee will consist of himself, Anya Dale, Gillian Ream Gainsley and Eric Mahler. Griffith said he hoped that a search could be completed within three months, but allowed that might …
The defined contribution pension plan of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has been amended to recognize same-sex marriages and for the terms “spouse,” “husband and wife,” “husband” and “wife” to include a same-sex spouse.
The board action came at its Aug. 21, 2014 meeting, to bring the AAATA’s pension policy into compliance with Internal Revenue Service Ruling 2013-17 and IRS Notice 2014-19. Those IRS rulings give guidance on how to implement the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, which declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 to be unconstitutional.
This brief was filed from the AAATA headquarters building at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, where the board held its Aug. 21 meeting – due …
The 2015 work plan has been approved by the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority at its Aug. 21, 2014 meeting. [2015 AAATA Work Plan]
Highlights of new items include measurements of service performance – an initiative that comes in the context of additional transportation services to be offered starting Aug. 24. Those services will be funded with proceeds from a new millage that voters approved on May 6, 2014.
Another highlight is the construction of a walkway across the block between Fourth Avenue and Fifth Avenue on the north side of the parcel where the new Blake Transit Center has been constructed. The re-orientation of the new transit center to the south side of the parcel makes it …
Up to 60 new buses will be purchased by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority from Gillig LLC over the next five years as a result of AAATA board action taken on Aug. 21, 2014. The total cost of each bus will be between $444,000 and $662,500, depending on the length, drive system and options. That puts the total value of the contract with Gillig at a figure between $26.6 million and $39.7 million.
Of the 60 buses, 20 would be new, additional buses that are needed for the expansion of services the AAATA will be offering starting Aug. 24. Those services will be funded with proceeds from a new millage authorized by voters on May 6, 2014. The other buses …
The downtown Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave. will reopen on Friday, Aug. 22 after being closed over the past week for repairs to its public elevator. There will be another temporary closing next week, however, as that work continues.
In a post on her director’s blog, Josie Parker stated: ”The last phase of the work is scheduled for next week, and we anticipate another closure for the installation of the new jack. That work is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, August 27.”
On Aug. 13, the library announced that its downtown building would be closed indefinitely starting the following day. The elevator has been out of commission since this spring, after leaks had developed in the hydraulic piston, causing …
Look who’s chilling on my gas pump! [praying mantis] [photo]
The final tally of costs to the city of Ann Arbor in connection with the Bob Dascola election lawsuit is $35,431.75. According to Tom Wieder, attorney for Dascola, the settlement agreed to on Aug. 20, 2014 for the second phase of the lawsuit was $9,400 – to be split between the city and the state of Michigan.
The city lost both phases of the litigation, which began when the city sought to enforce city charter eligibility requirements against Dascola to prevent him from being a candidate in the Ward 3 city council Democratic primary race. The election was won by Julie Grand in a three-person field that included Samuel McMullen.
The $35,431.75 amount is the total agreed to for the initial …
Ann Arbor planning commission working session (Aug. 12, 2014): Planning commissioners gave feedback on new guides that staff have developed for residents and developers, aimed at improving communication about proposed development projects.
The “Citizens’ Guide to Effective Communication” and “Developers’ Guide to Leading Effective Citizen Participation Meetings” were drafted by planning staff, based in part on suggestions from the planning commission’s citizen outreach committee.
Two other outreach documents were reviewed at the Aug. 12 working session – a guide to the city’s site plan review process, and a template for postcard notifications of citizen participation meetings.
In addition to giving feedback on those draft documents and how they might be distributed, commissioners discussed how to improve the effectiveness of mandatory citizen participation meetings and the reports that developers must provide based on those meetings.
The citizen participation meetings are held for all major projects, a requirement that’s been in place since the city council enacted a citizen participation ordinance in 2008. An evaluation of that ordinance was supposed to have been done five years ago. However, there had been a lull in development soon after the ordinance was passed. Planning manager Wendy Rampson told commissioners that now there have been a sufficient number of projects to evaluate, and to possibly make some thoughtful changes to the code.
The Detroit News has reported that Ann Arbor Transportation Authority CEO Michael Ford has reached an agreement to serve as CEO of the Regional Transit Authority. The contract, which will pay Ford $200,000 annually, is pending approval of the RTA board, which next meets on Aug. 20. Ford would start in mid-October at the earliest. The next meeting of the AAATA board is Aug. 21. [Source]