The pilot episode of The Vegan Roadie features Ann Arbor’s The Lunch Room. The show’s host, Dustin Harder, interviews the restaurant’s owners, Joel Panozzo and Phillis Engelbert, and samples dishes from their menu. [Source]
Road construction makes pedestrian crossing challenging, despite the signage. [photo]
Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 6, 2014): Ann Arbor city planning commissioners took mixed action on a proposed Ann Arbor housing commission (AAHC) property.
They sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Road property – R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district) – to the city council with a recommendation of approval. 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.
Zoning and site plan approval must ultimately be given by the city council. However, the zoning approval will require two votes by the council at two separate meetings – because changes to the zoning code are actually changes to a city ordinance. So the delay on the approval of the site plan would not necessarily delay the project, as long at the site plan is put in front of the council for consideration by the time the council takes a second vote on the rezoning.
AAHC is hoping that the zoning and site plan approval can be obtained from the city council by sometime in mid-October, because that will help support a grant application.
Several residents who live near the proposed site spoke against the project during the public hearing on Aug. 6, while advocates for more affordable housing spoke in support of it. That public hearing will be continued when the site plan is next taken up by the commission.
The question of whether those speakers will be allowed to speak again at that same public hearing is the type of issue that was addressed in a different item handled by the commission at its Aug. 6 meeting. The commission approved revisions to its bylaws, including one stipulating that people who have already spoken at a public hearing can speak at a continuation of that public hearing only at the discretion of the planning commission chair – or if a proposal has changed in a material way between the initial portion of the hearing and the continued portion.
Revisions to the planning commission bylaws will be forwarded to the city council for approval.
The city of Ann Arbor has responded to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year with a motion to dismiss the suit against the city and three of its police detectives. The lawsuit was filed on May 19, 2014, but not served until July 17.
The complaint was filed by Joseph Bailey against the city of Ann Arbor and three Ann Arbor police detectives – Christopher Fitzpatrick, William Stanford, and Michael Dortch – in connection with Bailey’s arrest for armed robbery of the Broadway Party Store. Bailey’s complaint alleges that the detectives subjected Bailey to excessive force and caused his false imprisonment. Bailey was not prosecuted for the robbery, but eventually pled guilty to resisting arrest.
The city’s motion to dismiss contends that the complaint …
Three Ann Arbor police department cars, one state trooper arresting three folks, searching van: [photo]
Campaign yard sign: “VOTE NO on the Kennedy/Scott Move to California” Fine print: “Paid for by Ypsilantians for a Crying-Free Tomorrow” [photo]
Showdown in the sandbox. [photo]
On Sept. 2, 2014, The Ann Arbor Chronicle will observe the sixth anniversary of its launch.
That’s also the last day on which we’ll publish regular new reports.
The website will remain live, with its archives freely accessible at least until the end of 2014, possibly longer.
There may be a special project or two that we will wrap up and eventually insert into the archives.
The event listings will remain live, and it’s our intent to maintain them into the future.
When a business effectively closes its doors, it’s always fair to ask at least two questions: Why at all? And why now?
The second is easier to answer, so I’ll handle it first.
A sheet hung between two trees, plus a cookout in progress, means it’s outdoor movie night at the house across from the YMCA.
Seven residential condominiums, to be build just west of the railroad tracks on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, have received approval from the city council. Council action came at its Aug. 7, 2014 meeting.
The proposal from developer Alex de Parry is to demolish an existing car wash at 318 W. Liberty and build an 11,910-square-foot structure with seven residential condominiums – five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units. Each condo will have its own two-car tandem garage for a total of 14 parking spaces, although no parking is required.
The plan received a unanimous recommendation of approval from planning commissioners at their July 1, 2014 meeting.
As a part of its consent agenda, the Ann Arbor city council has approved over $380,000 in regular computer software and hardware contracts. The vote on the consent agenda is taken on all items as a group, although the items themselves are separate.
The computer technology items approved on the council’s Aug. 7, 2014 consent agenda were:
- Purchase order to Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office for Judicial Information System (JIS) in FY 2015 ($45,000). This covers the annual software licensing and hosting costs for the JIS case management software. JIS is provided by the State of Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office for the 15th District Court use in its day-to-day operations.
- Purchase order with Oakland County for CLEMIS …
A special assessment for sidewalk construction on Pontiac Trail has been given final approval by the Ann Arbor city council. It was postponed from the council’s July 21, 2014 meeting to allow additional time for one of the property owners to protest. The total cost that will be assessed to adjoining property owners 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 Skydale Drive to just south of the bridge over M-14. The project will also be adding on-street bike lanes and constructing a new sidewalk along the east side of Pontiac Trail to fill in existing sidewalk gaps and to provide …
A 35-month, $727,545 contract with Du All Cleaning Inc. has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council – for janitorial service at city hall, the Wheeler Service Center, the water treatment plant, senior center and other city-owned facilities.
Council action came at its Aug. 7, 2014 meeting. The item had originally been scheduled to appear on the council’s July 21 meeting agenda. Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, city administrator Steve Powers explained that the item was delayed until the Aug. 7 meeting “to allow more time to evaluate the services of Du All during their probationary period.”
The locations and the cleaning schedule to be covered by the contract include:
- 911 Dispatch Center [Cleaned 7 days per week]
- Municipal Center …
A contract with Carrier & Gable Inc. for the purchase of $480,000 worth of traffic signals has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council. Action came at the council’s Aug. 7, 2014 meeting.
The list of signals covered in the contract includes:
- Varsity and Ellsworth pedestrian signal upgrade ($25,000)
- King George and Eisenhower pedestrian signal upgrades ($35,000)
- Maintenance operations, including wear-out and accident damage, and support of other city projects ($300,000)
- Addition of flashing yellow arrows for left turn movement at the following locations ($55,000): Fuller & Glenn; Barton & Plymouth; Plymouth & Broadway; Eisenhower & Stone School; Cedar Bend & Fuller; Fuller & Glazier Way; Fuller & Fuller Ct.; Fuller & Huron High
- Division and Catherine ($65,000)
The council approved the contract with Carrier & …
A $200,000 contract with Reiser & Frushour P.L.L.C. has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council, to provide legal representation as court-appointed counsel to indigent defendants in the 15th District Court. Action came at the council’s Aug. 7, 2014 meeting.
The court is required by law to appoint attorneys to represent indigent defendants when potential punishment, if convicted, includes the possibility of incarceration. According to the staff memo accompanying the item, Reiser & Frushour was selected from a pool of three firms that responded to a request for proposals (RFP). Besides Reiser & Frushour, the two other firms submitting proposals were: Washington, Friese & Graney; and Huron Valley Law Association. A selection committee consisting of the three 15th District Court …
A trio of items on the Ann Arbor city council’s Aug. 7, 2014 agenda have been approved, which relate to a future project at Research Park Drive.
The project itself was not on the agenda – but it would construct six new buildings on six parcels, each with associated surface parking and storm water detention. One of the proposed buildings would be a tennis facility. The tennis facility required an amendment to the ORL zoning district, which currently does not allow outdoor recreation uses.
The three associated items approved by the council were: (1) an area plan; (2) rezoning of 16.6 acres comprising six parcels from RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district); and (3) an amendment to the ORL zoning classification …
Initial approval has been given to 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 proposal 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. According to a staff report, the additional space …
A plan to tear down the existing Delta Chi fraternity house at 1705 Hill Street and build a much larger structure in its place has received approval from the Ann Arbor city council.
Action came at the council’s Aug. 7, 2014 meeting. The planning commission had voted to recommend approval of the site plan at its July 1, 2014 meeting.
The fraternity plans to demolish the existing 4,990-square-foot house at 1705 Hill St. – at the northwest corner of Hill and Oxford – and replace it with a 12,760-square-foot structure on three …
Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Aug. 7, 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 council’s election-week meeting is held on Thursday instead of Monday.
The agenda is relatively light, with many of the items dealing with land-development and zoning matters – each of which have an associated public hearing. The consent agenda is packed with renewals of contracts for various software packages and computer maintenance.
In the category of land development and use, the council will consider a site plan that proposes to tear down the existing Delta Chi fraternity house at 1705 Hill Street and build a much larger structure in its place. Another site plan on the agenda is The Mark condominiums. That’s a proposal from developer Alex de Parry to demolish an existing car wash at 318 W. Liberty and build an 11,910-square-foot structure with seven residential condominiums – five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units.
Also on the agenda is the initial approval of rezoning – from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district) – that will be necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility in Research Park. The proposal 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.
Also on Research Park Drive, a trio of items on the agenda relate to a future project that would construct six new buildings on six parcels, each with associated surface parking and storm water detention. One of the proposed buildings would be a tennis facility. The tennis facility would require an amendment to the ORL district, which currently does not allow outdoor recreation uses. The three associated items are: (1) an area plan; (2) rezoning of 16.6 acres from RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district); and (3) an amendment to the ORL zoning classification to allow the planning commission to grant special exception uses for recreational facilities.
The council will also consider a $200,000 contract with Reiser & Frushour P.L.L.C. to provide legal representation for indigent defendants. The city is required to provide such representation for those indigent defendants who might face incarceration if convicted.
A second large contract on the agenda is one with Carrier & Gable Inc. for the purchase of $480,000 worth of traffic signals. A third large contract is a three-year $727,545 agreement with Du All Cleaning Inc. for janitorial service at city hall, the Wheeler Service Center, the water treatment plant, senior center and other city-owned facilities.
Also to be considered by the council at its Aug. 7 meeting are a raft of items on the consent agenda covering various pieces of software used by the city in its regular operations. None of the contracts exceed $100,000, which means they can be voted on “all in one go” as part of the consent agenda.
Returning to the agenda on Aug. 7 is the Pontiac Trail sidewalk special assessment roll. That item had been postponed at the council’s July 21 meeting to allow additional time for residents to protest the assessment.
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 Thursday 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 results of city council Democratic primary elections held in the city of Ann Arbor on Aug. 5 can fairly be considered determinative of Nov. 4 election outcomes – because no Republicans or independents filed petitions to qualify for the ballot.
November will see at least three newcomers to the 11-member council – Kirk Westphal in Ward 2, Julie Grand in Ward 3, and Graydon Krapohl in Ward 4. Westphal and Grand won their respective Democratic primaries that featured no incumbents. Both candidates were coming off unsuccessful council campaigns last year – against Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), respectively.
Westphal received 1,819 votes (59%) to Nancy Kaplan’s 1,261 (41%) in a race that was anticipated to be somewhat closer. Grand received 1,516 votes (51.1%) compared to Bob Dascola’s 794 (26.8%) and Samuel McMullen’s 616 (20.8%). That gave a decisive result to a Ward 3 race that had been fraught with legal disputes – about Dascola’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in the first place; and then about how to count misprinted absentee ballots, which omitted Dascola’s name.
Krapohl’s race did not even appear on the Aug. 5 ballot – because he was unopposed in the Democratic primary and no Republican qualified for the ballot. The omission of the race from the ballot under those conditions is stipulated in a clause of the city charter.
Krapohl will be filling the seat to which Democrat Margie Teall did not seek re-election. Westphal will almost certainly be filling the Ward 2 seat that Sally Petersen left to pursue an unsuccessful mayoral campaign. And Grand will almost certainly be elected to fill the seat vacated by Christopher Taylor, who ran a successful campaign for mayor.
Taylor, who’s currently a councilmember representing Ward 3, will be the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 4 general election against independent Bryan Kelly. Assuming Taylor does prevail, he will remain on the council as mayor. And among the 10 councilmembers who represent one of the five wards, he’ll almost certainly see a total of seven returning faces, including the two incumbents who prevailed in the Aug. 5 primaries.
That’s because those two incumbents, like the new Democratic council nominees, will also be unopposed on the November ballot. First-term Ward 1 councilmember Sumi Kailasapathy prevailed over Don Adams, who was seeking elected office for the first time. Kailasapathy received 1,113 votes (56.8%) compared to 840 (42.8%) for Adams.
And first-term Ward 5 councilmember Chuck Warpehoski prevailed over Leon Bryson, who had announced he was withdrawing from the race after the deadline to remove his name from the ballot. Bryson still collected 674 votes (18.6%), but Warpehoski’s total was 2,936 (81%).
Those three newcomers and two incumbents will join the five councilmembers who are currently in the middle of their two-year terms: Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5) – as well as Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), who were unsuccessful in their mayoral bids.
Below are some maps illustrating the geographic distribution of votes in the three actively contested city council races, as well as some limited analysis of the Ward 2 race in terms of questions that were part of a pre-election poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
At its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission took two actions related to an Ann Arbor housing commission project at 3451 Platt Road.
The commission recommended approval of a rezoning proposal on 3.1 acres – from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site includes a property currently owned by AAHC, as well as an adjacent parcel that’s being purchased by the city on behalf of AAHC. The rezoning request will be forwarded to the city council for consideration.
In a separate vote, …
Washtenaw County commissioners have given final approval to mid-year budget adjustments and have allocated this year’s higher-than-expected property tax revenues, as well as a $3.9 million surplus from 2013. Action was taken at the county board’s Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, following initial approval on July 9.
The adjustments increased the general fund budget’s expenses and revenues by $720,486 for 2014, $733,233 for 2015, $745,980 for 2016 and $758,727 for 2017. The county operates on a four-year budget, with the fiscal year matching the calendar year.
The adjustments also followed the recommendation of county administrator Verna McDaniel, and set aside the $3,920,818 surplus from 2013 in unearmarked reserves, rather than spending it. The projected year-end 2014 fund balance is $20,638,675. The county board had previously approved a …
At its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners made allocations to six projects, using funds from an Act 88 millage that the county levies each year. In a separate vote, commissioners took an initial step to levy that tax, with final approval expected in September.
The county’s position is that Act 88 can be levied without voter approval to fund economic development and agricultural activities. This year, the proposal is to levy 0.07 mills in December 2014 – the same rate that was levied in 2013. It’s expected to raise an estimated $1,022,276 in property tax revenues.
In previous years, the resolution setting this millage has outlined how the revenues would be allocated. The largest allocations have gone to …
At its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission approved revisions to its bylaws related to public hearings.
At the commission’s July 15, 2014 meeting, planning manager Wendy Rampson introduced staff recommendations for changes to the bylaws, which had also been discussed at a July 8 working session. She noted that when revisions to bylaws are being considered, the commission must provide notice at a meeting before that potential action. That public notice happened on July 15.
Planning commissioners had originally adopted similar revisions to their bylaws at a Feb. 20, 2014 meeting. Such revisions require city council approval. However, the city attorney’s office did not forward the Feb. 20 changes to the council for consideration. There was no action …
At their Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave initial approval to levy a tax to support services for indigent veterans. A final vote is expected at the board’s Sept. 3 meeting.
The county has determined that it is authorized to collect up to 1/10th of a mill without seeking voter approval. That’s because the state legislation that enables the county to levy this type of tax – the Veterans Relief Fund Act, Public Act 214 of 1899 – predates the state’s Headlee Amendment. The county first began levying this millage in 2008, and collects the tax in December. Services are administered through the county’s department of veterans affairs.
Since 2008, the county board has slightly increased the rate that it levies each …
The Washtenaw County board of commissioners has given initial approval a policy to guide the county’s participation in tax increment financing (TIF) authorities. The action took place at the board’s Aug. 6, 2014 meeting.
At its Oct. 16, 2013 meeting, the board had passed a resolution directing county administrator Verna McDaniel to develop a policy for evaluating future TIF proposals. The resolution stated that the policy would be developed with input from staff of the office of community and economic development, the equalization department, and the brownfield redevelopment authority. The Oct. 16 resolution was passed over dissent by the board’s two Republican commissioners, Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Alicia Ping (R-District 3).
Subsequently, an advisory committee was formed to help develop the …
Final unofficial results from the Washtenaw County clerk’s office have confirmed the results of early, informal reports directly from the Aug. 5, 2014 polls: Christopher Taylor has won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Ann Arbor.
Incumbent mayor John Hieftje is not seeking re-election, and there is no Republican candidate. Taylor will face independent Bryan Kelly in the Nov. 4 general election.
Some observers felt the four-way race could be won with as little as 35% of the vote. Taylor achieved a near majority, but fell a couple of percentage points short of 50% citywide. Taylor received 7,070 votes (47.6%) compared to Sabra Briere’s 2,967 (20%), Stephen Kunselman’s 2,447 (16.5%) and Sally Petersen’s 2,364 (15.9%).
The 16,591 ballots cast translated into a turnout of 16.67% registered voters citywide.
The ranking and clustering of the four candidates was roughly consistent with the amount of money each campaign raised in the pre-primary period – if the self-funded portion of Petersen’s campaign is discounted.
The rank order and clustering of candidates was also consistent with the results of a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling about a week before the election. That poll also showed Taylor as a clear favorite over the other three candidates, who were grouped significantly behind, with Briere slightly stronger than Kunselman and Petersen.
Outgoing Democratic mayor John Hieftje never lost any of the city’s 48 precincts in seven election cycles. Taylor prevailed in 39 precincts. Briere won seven of them, while Kunselman won his home precinct in Ward 3. Briere and Petersen tied for most votes in one precinct – splitting the two votes in the lightly voted Precinct 1-1.
Taylor had the highest vote totals in each of the city’s five wards, with a majority of votes in three of them. In Ward 3, Ward 4 and Ward 5, Taylor received 50.4%, 52% and 50.6%, respectively.
All four candidates did best on their home turf – Briere in Ward 1, Petersen in Ward 2, Kunselman in outer Ward 3. But Taylor was strong not just in the Burns Park neighborhood of Ward 3, but also citywide, achieving better than 50% in 13 of 48 individual precincts, while winning 39 of them.
Charts of results by ward, as well as dynamic color-coded maps for each mayoral candidate, are presented below.
Ruth Ann Jamnick has won a four-way race in the Democratic primary for the District 5 seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. It was the only county board seat that was contested in the Aug. 5 primary election. The district covers Augusta Township and part of Ypsilanti Township south of I-94.
Other District 5 Democratic candidates were Keith Jason, Wilma Gold-Jones, and Victor Dobrin. According to unofficial results on the Washtenaw County elections division website, Jamnick received 1,025 votes (36.39%) compared to 903 votes (32.06%) for Jason, 656 votes (23.29%) for Gold-Jones, and 232 votes (8.24%) for Dobrin.
In November, Jamnick will face Republican Timothy King, who was unchallenged in Tuesday’s primary. The current commissioner from that district, Democrat Rolland …
Julia Owdziej and Tracy Van den Bergh will advance to the Nov. 4 election for Washtenaw County probate judge, following the outcome of a five-way race in the nonpartisan Aug. 5 primary.
Countywide, Conlin received 16,043 votes (44.85%) and Liem garnered 14,779 votes (41.32%). Coming in third was Woodyard with 4,856 votes (13.58%). Overall, 44,823 ballots were cast throughout Washtenaw County in this race, which translated to a 16.28% turnout, according to unofficial results on the Washtenaw County elections website.
The winner of the Nov. 4 contest between Conlin and Liem will fill the open seat left by judge Donald Shelton, who turned 70 in June. According to Michigan state law, only a person under the age of 70 can be appointed or run for the position of judge.
Conlin and Liem are local attorneys, while Woodyard works in the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. A second seat on the 22nd circuit court is also up for election, as judge David Swartz is at the end of a six-year term. He is uncontested in his effort to retain the 22nd circuit court incumbent seat.
Owdziej received 11,314 votes (31.21%) with Van den Bergh getting 10,172 votes (28.06%). They will advance to the Nov. 4 general election. Bassett received 5,207 votes (14.36%), with 4,925 votes for Garwood (13.59%), and 4,560 votes for Constance Jones (12.58%). In this race, 44,890 ballots were cast countywide, for a voter turnout of 16.3%, according to unofficial results posted by the Washtenaw County elections division.
Owdziej had been appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Snyder on June 2, 2014, to fill the vacancy on the court left by Nancy Wheeler’s retirement. The announcement of that retirement came on May 1, after candidates had filed to run. Wheeler was expected to retire at the end of the year, but it came earlier than expected due to health reasons. Bassett, Garwood and Jones currently work in private practice while Van den Bergh is a staff attorney for a legal services nonprofit.
Both judicial races showed a similar pattern, comparing the countywide vote to the city of Ann Arbor. The two candidates who were strongest across the county – Conlin for the circuit judgeship and Owdziej for the probate judgeship – were not the strongest candidates in the city of Ann Arbor. Strongest in the city of Ann Arbor for probate and circuit court were Liem and Van den Bergh, respectively.
Below are charts showing outcomes for both the probate and 22nd circuit court judicial races, with a ward-by-ward breakdown for the city of Ann Arbor.