Civic News Ticker

Recent Tickers

Ann Arbor LDFA Gets OK Toward Extension

A 15-year extension of Ann Arbor’s local development finance authority (LDFA) has taken another step forward in action taken by the city council on Sept. 2.

The extension – which would still need approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – depends on establishing a relationship between the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone and some other “satellite” LDFA. So the Sept. 2 resolution designates Adrian/Tecumseh as that satellite and approves an agreement with Adrian/Tecumseh.

The council’s vote was 7-4 over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). It followed a discussion that lasted over an hour, with questions from councilmembers fielded by city CFO Tom Crawford and LDFA board members Eric Jacobsen and Stephen Rapundalo, a former city councilmember.

The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti LDFA – branded as one of about a dozen LDFA SmartZones statewide – is funded through capture of public school operating millages within the geographic areas of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti downtown development authority districts. However, no capture is made of the Ypsilanti school taxes.

The LDFA contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK to operate a business accelerator, which is meant to move start-up companies in the tech and biosciences sectors more quickly to a stage in their development when they are generating revenue from paying customers and adding jobs.

The city contracts separately with Ann Arbor SPARK for general business attraction and retention services. Also at its Sept. 2 meeting, the council voted to take SPARK’s $75,000 annual contract up off the table and consider it again, having tabled it three months ago. That contract won approval from the council.

The council’s Sept. 2 resolution on the LDFA extension specified the following as findings:

  1. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides unique characteristics and specialties through its public and private resources including the location of Adrian College, Siena Heights University and Jackson College within its TIF District and the opportunities for research partnerships and student/young entrepreneur involvement. In addition partnership with another multi-jurisdictional LDFA provides opportunities for shared experiences.
  2. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides regional cooperation and collaboration benefits to the LDFA and the Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti with joint focuses on technology (including expanding green technologies and agricultural technology) and entrepreneurial services.
  3. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides value and support to the LDFA by strengthening existing collaboratives, making available a new/expanded technical assistance and support through its Innovation Center at Adrian College, and agricultural and manufacturing resources.

In connection with the extension, revisions to the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone TIF (tax increment financing) plan and development plan are being undertaken. Drafts of revisions are attached to the council’s Sept. 2 agenda item. Revisions appear to address concerns that have been raised about the current arrangement – to some extent by Ann Arbor city councilmembers.

Those concerns include the fact that TIF is not currently allowed to be spent outside the TIF district in the city of Ann Arbor; further, no TIF funds can currently be expended in Ypsilanti – inside or outside its TIF district – because no actual tax capture revenue is generated for the LDFA in that area. The revisions would allow TIF revenue to be expended anywhere in the entire cities of Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.

In addition, the revisions specify in greater detail that TIF revenue can be used to pay for high-speed communications infrastructure. Specifically mentioned as eligible expenditures is the “installation of technology related infrastructure assets, i.e. fiber lines, nodes, or work spaces.”

The LDFA extension comes in the context of lingering questions about the impact on school funding of the LDFA tax capture. In FY 2013, the total amount captured by the Ann Arbor SmartZone LDFA was $1,546,577, and the current fiscal year forecast is for $2,017,835. About the same amount is forecast for FY 2015. The majority of councilmembers were convinced that the mechanism by which the state of Michigan funds public education means that the LDFA tax capture has no negative impact on  local schools funding.

Separate from the LDFA business acceleration contract with Ann Arbor SPARK, the city of Ann Arbor has historically engaged SPARK for business attraction and retention services. However, this year the $75,000 annual contract with SPARK was tabled by the council – in a vote taken at the council’s June 16, 2014 meeting.

It was taken back up off the table for consideration at the Sept. 2, 2014 meeting and approved on a 9-2 vote over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5)

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

AAHC Gets Council Support for Renovations

The Ann Arbor housing commission’s plan to renovate its properties has been given support by the Ann Arbor city council in three separate actions taken at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting.

The council approved a $729,879 transfer from the affordable housing trust fund to the AAHC to support the “West Arbor” portion of the AAHC’s renovation plan. And the council also took two actions in specific support of the West Arbor portion of the plan. The council gave initial support to a zoning revision for a project at 3451 Platt Road, which will entail demolishing four 5-bedroom units – because of their current placement in the floodplain – and constructing 32 townhomes and a community center. A third council action on Sept. 2 was approval of a site plan for North Maple Estates, which currently offers 19 units. All those units will be demolished and replaced with 42 townhomes.

The $729,879 transfer from the affordable housing trust fund 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 the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot into the trust fund.

By way of background, in 2012 the city was accepted into a new rental assistance demonstration program, known as RAD, offered by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program allows residents in selected housing units to receive rental assistance through long-term Section 8 subsidy vouchers that are tied to the buildings, rather than individuals. The RAD program also enables entities like the AAHC to partner with private-sector developers on housing projects – something the AAHC couldn’t previously do. The Ann Arbor city council gave necessary approvals in connection with the RAD program at its June 3, 2013 meeting. Financing for the RAD program is primarily through low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC).

According to the memo accompanying this item, out of the $16,564,370 project budget for West Arbor, low-income housing tax credits and permanent debt are expected to cover $14,091,491. That leaves a gap of $1,472,879. The AAHC has secured $50,000 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and $293,000 from a Community Challenge Planning Grant. So the AAHC has requested up to $729,879 in capital funding support from the Ann Arbor housing trust fund for the West Arbor portion of the RAD conversion.

The initial approval given by the council for the Lower Platt project is from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). Final approval of the zoning, as well as the site plan approval, will come before the council at a subsequent meeting, probably in October.

The planning commission had sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Road property to the city council with a recommendation of approval – in a vote taken at its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting. 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 postponement was supposed to allow time to address staff concerns regarding the impact on natural features.

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 site plan’s delay would not necessarily delay the project, as long as the site plan is put in front of the council for consideration by the time the council takes a second vote on the rezoning.

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 project calls for demolishing four single-family homes and one two-family building, and constructing a 32-unit apartment complex with five buildings, 61 parking spaces, a playground, and a community building. The new apartments will include: 8 one-bedroom units; 12 two-bedroom units; 6 three-bedroom units; 2 four-bedroom units; and 4 five-bedroom units.

Two of the proposed buildings would be in the floodplain, which raised concerns from city staff. The AAHC is working to address those concerns – possibly by eliminating or reducing the number of buildings in the floodplain. It had been expected that the AAHC could address the issues raised by city staff so that the site plan could return to the planning commission at its Aug. 19 meeting – but that didn’t happen. Nor is it on the planning commission’s Sept. 3 agenda. [.pdf of planning staff report] [.pdf of June 28, 2014 citizen participation meeting report]

The AAHC Platt Road project is different from a Washtenaw County-owned property at 2260 and 2270 Platt Road, the former location of the county’s juvenile center. That site is also being considered for affordable housing.

Other AAHC-related action by the council on Sept. 2 included site plan approval for North Maple Estates. It calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes at the public housing complex on North Maple and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms.

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.

The rezoning of the 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road already has 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 Ann Arbor planning commission had recommended the zoning and site plan for approval at its meeting on June 17, 2014. The council gave initial approval of the rezoning at its July 7, 2014 meeting.

The site is on the west side of North Maple, between Dexter Avenue and Hollywood Drive. [.pdf of staff report]

The units in the eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex are proposed to have a total of 138 bedrooms. The units range in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms.

The project will include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings will be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There would be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Gift of Life Expansion Gets Final OKs

At its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive in the mid-southern part of Ann Arbor. The rezoning will change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). At the same meeting, the council approved the site plan for the project.

Gift of Life Michigan, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of Gift of Life Michigan site.

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 will accommodate offices, a special events auditorium and “organ procurement suites.” The nonprofit’s website states that the Gift of Life is Michigan’s only federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. Cost of the expansion project will be $10.5 million.

The city planning commission had recommended approval of the rezoning at its July 1, 2014 meeting. City council action to give initial approval of the site plan came at its meeting on Aug. 7.

The project will reduce the four existing curb cuts to Research Park Drive to three, connecting one of the loop driveways to an existing driveway at the east end of the site. A parking lot at the back of the site will be expanded by 38 parking spaces. Two alternate vehicle fueling stations are proposed in parking spaces near the main entry, with the driveway at the center of the site providing access for ambulances. A new shipping and receiving facility will be located on the northeast corner of the site.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Ann Arbor Sets Stage for Taxicab Rate Hike

Even though the Ann Arbor city council rejected one proposed change to its taxicab ordinance at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting – which would have regulated all drivers for hire in the city – initial approval was given at that meeting to another change in the part of the ordinance that regulates rates. And the council gave final approval of that ordinance change at its Sept 2, 2014 meeting.

The change establishes 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. New, higher rates have not yet been approved by the council.

The vote by the taxicab board to recommend the ordinance change came at its July 24, 2014 meeting.

These issues were also discussed at three monthly meetings of the taxicab board prior to that, on April 23, 2014, May 22, 2014 and June 26, 2014. Representatives of the taxicab industry at those meetings advocated for the establishment of a very high maximum – not tied to gas and insurance prices. They feel it’s one mechanism that would allow them to compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

The proposal to regulate all drivers for hire, which the council rejected, was also intended in part to allow taxicab companies to compete with Uber and Lyft on an even playing field. Taxicab drivers are already regulated by the city.

Regarding fare regulation, the city’s current structure already allows for the establishing of a maximum rate to be adopted by the city council. Currently the maximum rate in Ann Arbor is $3 to get in, $2.50 per mile, and 40 cents per minute waiting time. Those maximum rates were last adjusted upwards three years ago, on May 16, 2011, in response to gas prices that had nudged past $4 per gallon. At that time, the taxicab board indicated it did not anticipate considering another rate change until the gas prices were over $5 for at least two consecutive months.

So the taxicab board’s thinking is not being driven by gas prices, which are currently between $3.75 and $4 in the Ann Arbor area. Instead, a possible increase in allowable fares is based on concern that the taxicab industry in Ann Arbor might not be able to survive unless taxis are allowed to charge more.

At its Aug. 28, 2014 meeting, taxicab board members recommended the following maximum rate schedule for eventual consideration by the council, which could appear on the council’s agenda as soon as Sept. 15: $10 to get in, $5 per mile and 40 cents per minute waiting time. In addition, a $1 surcharge could be applied for each passenger over three passengers.

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves as the city council’s representative to the taxicab board – asked rhetorically if the taxicab board should be disbanded. At its Aug. 28 meeting, taxicab board chair Michael Benson announced that he’d received an email from board member Eric Sturgis, who indicated that he would be resigning from the board – because he’s moving to Jackson, Mich. It has historically been difficult to find residents willing to serve on the taxicab board.

On Sept. 2, eight people – including Benson and LuAnne Bullington, another taxicab board member – spoke during a public hearing on the ordinance change.

Other Sept. 2 action related to the topic of hired rides was a vote by city council that directed the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. The discussion on that item lasted about 45 minutes, resulting in approval on an 8-3 vote, over dissent from Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Ann Arbor to Pursue Deals with Uber, Lyft

The Ann Arbor city council has directed city administrator Steve Powers to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. The council’s action came at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting, after a discussion that lasted about 45 minutes.

The council’s vote on the question was 8-3 over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

The resolution sets the second meeting in October – Oct. 20, 2014 – as the date on which Powers is to return to the council with operating agreements to be approved by the city council.

The council’s Sept. 2 action comes after it rejected an ordinance change on Aug. 18, 2014 that would have required all drivers for hire to be registered with the city, to have commercial plates on their vehicles, and to maintain insurance commensurate with commercial plates. That rejected change had been recommended by the city’s taxicab board.

The absence of commercial plates on a vehicle that is observed being used for picking up or dropping off passengers would have provided a reason for a traffic stop by Ann Arbor police. At the taxicab board meetings over the last few months, representatives of the taxicab industry argued that the state statute regulating limousines already gives the city the ability to enforce against Uber and Lyft drivers.

At the taxicab board’s Aug. 28 meeting, representatives of the taxicab industry lamented the fact that they had not attended the council’s Aug. 18 meeting to advocate for regulating all drivers for hire through a city ordinance. Representatives of Uber and Lyft numbered over 50 people at the council meeting, some of whom addressed the council during public commentary time.

Ward 3 city councilmember and taxicab board member Stephen Kunselman indicated at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting that there might be a possibility that one of the five councilmembers who voted against the ordinance at first reading on Aug. 18 might bring it back for reconsideration.

On Aug. 18, the 5-5 vote totaling 10 on the 11-member body stemmed from the absence of Margie Teall (Ward 4). Voting for the regulation of all drivers for hire were Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Voting against the change were mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, during deliberations on the rejected ordinance change, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated that she’d concluded as early as April of this year that an operating agreement – instead of a local ordinance – would be the right approach. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) indicated he had been working with Briere to come up with that kind of approach.

The elements to be included in the operating agreement were specified in an attachment to the resolution read originally as follows:

Operating agreement principles include:

  • Company will provide a minimum of $1M in liability insurance coverage for the driver, vehicle and passengers and any other injured parties, from the moment a driver is linked with a passenger to the moment the passenger releases the vehicle.
  • Company will conduct the following at no cost to the city: background checks for each driver-applicant prior to allowing their participation. This background check will include a criminal background check, including a check for multiple relevant jurisdictions; a review of the applicant’s driving record; a mechanical inspection of the vehicle by a licensed inspector. The results of this data collection will be made available to the City for any driver / vehicle combination approved for participation in the company.
  • Company will not allow participation by a driver / vehicle combination if the driver has any felony conviction; any conviction for DUI; more than 2 moving violations in any calendar year or more than 4 moving violations in a six-year period, with no more than 4 accumulated points in any calendar year.
  • Company shall ensure that all driver vehicles pass an annual, mutually agreeable safety inspection conducted by a licensed mechanic.
  • Prior to participation in the program, drivers shall go through a driver-education program that provides training in customer service and improves familiarity with local streets and local traffic conditions.
  • Drivers shall not accept passengers except through the ride-sharing mechanism provided by the Company.
  • Company will provide requested data to the City about accidents and incidents with passengers, as well as a report on customer satisfaction and safety ratings.

During the Sept. 2 meeting, an amendment was made that would restrict the felony convictions referenced in the principles to just those that are relevant for drivers for hire.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Splitt Reappointed to DDA Board

John Splitt has been confirmed for a third four-year term of service on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. The vote on the 11-member council was 7-4. Voting against Splitt’s confirmation were Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

The council’s action came at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting.

Splitt is still within the three-term limit for DDA board members that was included as part of a set of ordinance changes made by the city council at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. Some councilmembers had wanted a two-term limit, but the three-term limit emerged as part of a compromise. In addition to board governance, the council amended the ordinance regulating the DDA’s TIF (tax increment finance) capture.

Some councilmembers voting against Splitt’s confirmation cited recently reported raises awarded to DDA executive director Susan Pollay for FY 2013 and FY 2014 that appear to have been decided in a way that violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

Several others were uncontroversially confirmed to other boards and commissions at the Sept. 2 meeting. Anna Ercoli-Schnitzer had been nominated to fill a vacancy on the commission on disability issues. Tamara Burns and Dick Mitchell had been nominated to be reappointed to the design review board. Sofia Franciscus had been nominated to fill the vacancy on the planning commission due to Paras Parekh’s resignation. All of those nominations were confirmed without discussion.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

FDD Lawsuit: Shelton Delays on 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 a motion should go through the regular disqualification process.

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 well-founded basis. Shelton questioned assistant city attorney Abigail Elias closely on the matter, and appeared to indicate agreement with plaintiff’s contention that the city had, in its brief filed with the court, mischaracterized the plaintiff’s position.

However, Shelton indicated that the motion on sanctions should be heard when the motion on summary disposition is heard – on Sept. 18. So Shelton indicated he would be adjourning that motion until Sept. 18. That hearing is scheduled before Connors.

For additional background, see “Shelton to Hear Motions in FDD Case.”

This brief was filed from Shelton’s courtroom shortly after the hearing ended. A more detailed report will follow: [link]

County Issues Call for Winter Warming Space

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 January 1 if weather dictates
  • Ideally have storage space for stacked sleeping mats during daytime hours.

Any information about possible sites should be directed to to Amanda Carlisle, director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, at carlislea@ewashtenaw.org by Friday, Sept. 5.

This outreach is the result of efforts by a Winter Emergency Shelter/Warming Center Response workgroup, which has been focused on ensuring a more coordinated and sufficient response to the demands for the 2014-15 winter. From the press release: “As a result of the initial meetings of this workgroup, a need has been identified for space to host an expanded overnight warming center for individual adults for the 2015 winter season. The committee has identified a provider for the staffing of this additional overnight warming center and is working to identify the resources to support the operation of it; however, the committee has not yet identified an ideal space to host this temporary overnight warming center for the winter months.”

For background on this issue, see Chronicle coverage: “County Board Briefed on Shelter Services” and “County Board Discusses Homelessness.”

AAATA Search Committee to Replace Ford

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 not be achievable. He said he hoped an RFP (request for proposals) for a search firm could be sent out the next day. He felt that the search firm could help the board establish realistic expectations about a timeframe for a new hire.

Ford was picked for the job as CEO of the Regional Transit Authority three months ago, on May 21, 2014. The RTA board approved Ford’s contract on Aug. 20, 2014. Ford’s announcement as a finalist and his selection for the RTA job came amid the AAATA’s successful campaign for a new millage to fund additional transportation services in the geographic area of the member jurisdictions of the AAATA – the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. That millage was approved by voters on May 6, 2014.

The four-county area of the RTA includes the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland as well as the city of Detroit. It was established by the Michigan legislature in late 2012.

The RTA’s hiring of a CEO has been frustrated by a lack of state funding. John Hertel, general manager of SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation), was appointed CEO by the RTA board last year, but he eventually left the post in early 2014 over issues of funding availability.

Ford was hired by the AAATA in 2009. He began the Aug. 21 meeting by thanking the board, his executive staff, the AAATA operators and mechanics, and the staff of the entire organization.

This brief was filed from the AAATA headquarters building at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, where the board held its Aug. 21 meeting – due to the closure of its regular meeting location at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. The library building was closed to due to the repair of the public elevator.

Same-Sex Pension Benefits OK’d by AAATA

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 to the closure of its regular meeting location at the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library. The library building was closed to due to the repair of the public elevator.

2015 Work Plan OK’d by AAATA Board

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 possible to contemplate the walkway along the north side, which abuts the Federal Building. According to CEO Michael Ford’s regular written report to the board for August, he has made a funding request from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to fund the construction of the pedestrian walkway.

This brief was filed from the AAATA headquarters building at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, where the board held its Aug. 21 meeting – due to the closure of its regular meeting location at the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library. The library building was closed to due to the repair of the public elevator.

AAATA OKs Bus Contract, Orders 27

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 will replace existing buses that are nearing the end of their useful life.

The large spread between the minimum and maximum cost per bus is due to the incremental price difference between a hybrid electric drive system and a conventional clean diesel drive, which is nearly $200,000. According to the minutes of the Aug. 12, 2014 meeting of the AAATA’s planning and development committee, the extra cost of a hybrid bus over the life of the bus is $138,604. That figure includes cost comparison data relating to the upfront capital and fuel costs of both technologies.

Of the AAATA’s existing 80 buses, 52 use hybrid technology. The ongoing debate among AAATA board members on choice of technology is based in part on the AAATA’s own experience with hybrid buses. The 5-year warranty has expired on the AAATA’s oldest hybrids, which has required a contingency budget for their future repairs. And manufacturers have now shortened their warranty periods for new hybrid buses from five to two years. That shorter warranty period will translate into greater costs to the AAATA for repairs.

According to AAATA staff cited in the PDC meeting minutes, the hybrid buses’ lower emission levels are a benefit of hybrid technology. However, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing emission reduction standards now ensure that all new transit buses – whether hybrid or conventional – have very low emissions. On average, hybrid buses run at a noise level of 72 dB(A) compared to 75 dB(A) for conventional buses.

So the AAATA board has not yet made a final decision on the choice between hybrid technology and conventional clean diesel. The order for the first 27 buses from Gillig – which was also given approval at the board’s Aug. 21 meeting – leaves open the decision on the choice of technology.  Of the 27 that are being ordered, 14 are replacement buses and 13 are buses needed for the service expansion.

The board would need to act by November 2014 on choosing the technology for the bus order. The choice to order hybrid technology could be based on the identification of grants that might pay for the cost differential of that technology. Delivery of the buses is planned for October 2015.

Here’s how the bus acquisition schedule breaks down:

              OCT   FEB   JAN   JAN   OCT  
Purpose      2015  2016  2017  2018  2019  TOT
============================================== 
Rplcmt buses
(now elig)     4                             4                          
Rplcmt buses 
(elig 11/15)  10           5     4          19
Rplcmt buses
(elig 11/19)                           15   15 
5YTIP Svc Exp 
(8/2015)       4                             4
5YTIP Svc Exp        
(6/2016)             9                       9
5YTIP Svc Exp  
(8/2017)                   7                 7 
==============================================
TOTAL                                       58

-

This brief was filed from the AAATA headquarters building, where the board held its Aug. 21, 2014 meeting – due to the closure of its regular meeting location at the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library. The library building was closed to due to the repair of the public elevator.

Downtown Library to Reopen Friday, Aug. 22

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 it to fail a weight test. At their July 21, 2014 meeting, trustees authorized a $93,598 contract with Schindler Elevator Corp. to repair the elevator. A week after the July 21 meeting, the board called a special meeting for July 29 to address additional issues related to the elevator. The four board members present at that meeting voted to authorize an additional $75,000 for elevator work.

The plan at that time was to attempt to keep the downtown library open as much as possible during the work, with the caveat that it was still unclear exactly what would be required to make the repair. However, the work required drilling concrete casings, which explosed the work area in such a way that made it impossible for the library to remain open.

The AADL is also undertaking a major renovation to the front entrance of the downtown library. On July 21, AADL trustees authorized authorized a $425,523 construction budget for that project, which has been in the works for several months. The budget covers new doors, a redesigned facade, and heated sidewalks, among other changes. The construction manager is O’Neal Construction of Ann Arbor.

Final City Tally for Dascola Lawsuit: $35,431

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 phase of the lawsuit on city charter eligibility requirements ($30,731.75), plus half the amount that was agreed to in the second phase, which involved the counting of misprinted ballots ($9,400). The other half of the $9,400 will be paid by the state of Michigan, which intervened in the second phase of the lawsuit. So the total paid to Dascola’s attorney, Tom Wieder, will be $40,132, which includes court costs.

Fees for the initial phase of the lawsuit were settled on June 19, 2014 – at $30,731.75. That total includes attorney fees in the amount of $30,306.25 – which was the result of 93.25 hours billed at an hourly rate of $325. The remainder of that total was $425.50 – costs for filings and document retrieval.

The motion for fees in the second phase of the lawsuit was filed by Wieder on Aug. 19, 2014 and asked for a total of $12,320 based on 30.80 hours of work at $400 per hour. Wieder’s filing parcels out each item of work to either the city or the state or to both jointly. The amount was reduced to $9,400 through back-and-forth among Wieder, the state and the city, with the final settlement splitting the amount evenly between the city and the state. [.pdf of Aug. 19, 2014 motion for fees]

The initial phase of the lawsuit was decided in favor of Dascola on May 20, 2014. At issue were city charter durational requirements on voter registration and residency – that require city councilmembers to be registered to vote in the city and to be a resident of the ward they want to represent for at least a year prior to taking office. Dascola contended he met the residency requirement, but conceded that he fell short of the voter registration requirement. He did not register to vote in the city until Jan. 15, 2014. The court ruled that the requirements were not enforceable, because they’d been ruled unconstitutional in the early 1970s, and never re-enacted by the city. Dascola submitted sufficient signatures to qualify, so the impact of the ruling was that Dascola was supposed to appear on the Ward 3 ballot.

However through a series of errors, his name did not appear on the printed ballots and nearly 400 of the misprinted ballots were sent to Ward 3 absentee voters. A dispute arose over how ballots would be counted if someone did not return one of the replacement ballots. The state of Michigan intervened on behalf of the Bureau of Elections, which told the city to go ahead and count the ballots. But on July 22, 2014 the federal court ruled that such ballots should not be counted.

The kind of city charter eligibility requirements that triggered the lawsuit in the first place should not become an issue in the future, if Ann Arbor voters approve charter amendments that the city council has voted to place on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot.

Parks Group Strategizes on Liberty Plaza

Liberty Plaza was the focus of two items that appeared on the Aug. 19, 2014 agenda for the Ann Arbor park advisory commission: (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.

The surface of the Library Lane parking structure is highlighted in yellow.

The surface of the Library Lane parking structure is highlighted in yellow. The city council has designated 12,000 square feet of that lot, on the west side along the South Fifth Avenue, as a future park.

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]

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.

Liberty Plaza: Feedback to City Council

After July 15, PAC called a special meeting for Aug. 5 to begin their discussion on providing feedback to the city council on Liberty Plaza. Commissioners continued that discussion on Aug. 19, focused on PAC’s newly crafted resolution. It responded to a city council resolution that had been considered at the council’s June 16, 2014 meeting. That council resolution had been brought forward by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) – who serves as an ex officio member of PAC – as well as mayor John Hieftje, Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1).

The original version of Taylor’s resolution 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…”

But after nearly an hour of debate on June 16, the council voted to refer the resolution to PAC instead of approving it. The vote on referral to PAC came amid deliberation on some amendments to the resolution proposed by Jane Lumm (Ward 2) that would have broadened the scope of the effort to include the Library Lane lot. [.pdf of Lumm's amendments]

Funding for the collaborative work on the redesign, in the amount of $23,577, was specified in the proposed resolution as coming from the parks and recreation budget. In addition to a concept for a “re-imagined Liberty Plaza,” the resolution was supposed to result in options for funding construction, to be provided by city staff. Taylor’s resolution called for a report to be provided to the park advisory commission by December 2014 and to the city council a month later in January 2015.

Taylor’s resolution came in the context of a push by some Ann Arbor residents – including members of the Library Green Conservancy – to establish public park space on top of the underground Library Lane parking garage, which is southwest of Liberty Plaza separated from that park by a surface parking lot owned by First Martin Corp.

Related to that, the council voted at its April 7, 2014 meeting – as part of reconsidering a vote it had taken at its previous meeting on March 17 – to designate a 12,000-square-foot portion of the Library Lane surface to be reserved as an urban park. The result of the reconsidered resolution on April 7 undid the council’s earlier decision to establish a square foot range for the urban plaza – from 6,500-12,000 square feet. That April 7 council decision was made on a 7-4 vote, with dissent from Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), mayor John Hieftje, Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5).

Deliberations among councilmembers on June 16, 2014 included questions about why PAC hadn’t been consulted on the resolution on Liberty Plaza. Taylor indicated that it wasn’t necessary to consult PAC, as it’s the council’s prerogative to set policy. The day after the council met, PAC’s regular monthly meeting, on June 17, was canceled.

PAC had previously been directed by the council to develop a set of recommendations regarding downtown parks, which were completed last year. The council accepted PAC’s recommendations at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of 21-page PAC downtown parks report]

PAC’s discussion on Aug. 19 was informed in part by a packet of material provided to commissioners at their Aug. 5 special meeting, which The Chronicle was not able to attend, because it was the date of primary elections. [.pdf of Aug. 5 Liberty Plaza packet] The materials included a memo with background and a bulleted list of issues related to Liberty Plaza, a list of potential ideas to address these issues, and suggestions for next steps.

Also included were PAC’s downtown parks recommendations, and a summary of previous work related to downtown parks, such as results from surveys conducted by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Connecting William Street study and by PAC’s downtown parks subcommittee. It also included case studies from downtown parks in four other communities: Director Park in Portland, Oregon; Arcadia Creek Festival Place in Kalamazoo; Campus Marius Park in Detroit; and Katz Plaza in Pittsburgh.

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.

The resolution drafted by Ault recommended that the city allocate or obtain resources to oversee programming of Liberty Plaza and Library Lane for up to one year, in order to answer the following questions:

Determine costs for ongoing dedicated resources (human, material and financial) for programming of the spaces for one year, recognizing that a key element for success of any urban park is sustained and meaningful programming of the space.

Determine the success of programming efforts and how the currently designed spaces function in support of that programming. What worked and didn’t work?

Determine at the end of the study if issues long associated with Liberty Plaza are a function of design or the absence of sustained and meaningful programming, or a combination of both.

If shortcomings are design-related, does it warrant a partial or complete redesign based on the outcomes of the study?

Determine what role adjacent and nearby properties (public and private) have along with other downtown neighbors with regard to Liberty Plaza in determining key stakeholders for ongoing discussions.

The resolution will be forwarded to the city council for consideration.

Liberty Plaza: Fee Waiver

Also on Aug. 19, commissioners unanimously approved an extension of the Liberty Plaza fee waiver through October 2015 – a date coordinated with the subcommittee’s work on Liberty Plaza.

By way of background, a year ago the city council voted to waive fees for use of Liberty Plaza, located at Liberty and Divisions streets. The waiver was for a one-year trial period, through July 1, 2014.

The waiver had been recommended by PAC at its June 18, 2013 meeting. It came in response to a situation that arose earlier that spring when city staff applied fees to the hosting of Pizza in the Park in Liberty Plaza – a homelessness outreach ministry of a local church.

The goal of the waiver was to attract additional musicians, performers, and other events at Liberty Plaza.” A key “whereas” clause of the 2013 council resolution stated: “… it is the goal of PAC to further activate Liberty Plaza by increasing social, cultural, and recreational activities that take place there; …”

Later in the year, on Nov. 18, 2013, the council approved ordinance revisions to allow for a waiver of fees when an organization uses any park to distribute goods for basic human needs. The ordinance was revised to include the following text: “There shall be no park rental fee charged in association with a permit, where the permitted event’s primary proposed activity is the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs.”

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

Music School Gets Special Exception Use

The Ann Arbor planning commission has granted a special exception use to the Community Music School of Ann Arbor to operate at 1289 Jewett Ave., between South Industrial and Packard. The decision – made at the commission’s Aug. 19, 2014 meeting – allows the private music school to use the Clonlara School building with a maximum of 150 students at any time.

Clonlara School is located in a district zoned R1B (single family dwelling), which permits private schools if given a special exception use approval. That school already has a special exception use to operate with a maximum of 150 students. No changes are planned for the exterior of Clonlara’s 16,900-square-foot, single-story building.

The music school will primarily use the facility on weekdays from 3:30-9 p.m., on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on occasional Sunday afternoons. On average, 25-30 students will come in for lessons each day.

Clonlara School’s 2.46-acre site includes 22 parking spaces in a parking lot off Jewett Avenue, plus three spaces behind a rental house located north of the school building. A one-way drive runs north from Jewett to Rosewood Street.

Two people spoke during the public hearing: Kasia Bielak-Hoops, executive director of the Community Music School (formerly the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts); and Martha Rhodes, Clonlara’s campus director. They both supported the special exception use.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

Fitness Center Proposal Gets Planning OK

A plan to create a fitness center at 3100 W. Liberty received a special exception use approval from Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Aug. 19, 2014 meeting.

3100 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

3100 West Liberty.

The proposal by the owners, John and Jackie Farah, is to convert an existing office building on the 5.37-acre site into a fitness center that would operate similar to a physical therapy/rehabilitation facility, according to a staff report. The special exception use allows for indoor recreation on a site zoned office (O). It would be part of the Farah Professional Center, which was first developed in 1995 and expanded in 2005. The site – on the north side of West Liberty, between Wagner and South Maple – includes a 13,000-square foot, two-story building and a 10,000-square foot, one-story building with an 89-space parking lot. The property is located in Ward 5.

The staff report states that the proposed center “is a facility available to customers by appointment only, offering less than a dozen pieces of equipment such as treadmills, elliptical, bikes and nautilus machines. Yoga, spinning, massage therapy and acupuncture also will be offered. Hours of operation will be consistent with normal office/health practitioner business hours.” [.pdf of staff report]

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.

Separately, the owners have submitted an administrative amendment to the previously approved site plan for changes to the office center’s parking lot. The proposal is to increase the number of spaces from 89 to 104 within the limits of the current parking area. The additional spaces are required to support the proposed indoor recreation use. The modified parking lot would have 70 full-sized spaces, 29 compact-sized spaces, and 5 barrier-free spaces.

The administrative amendment does not require planning commission or city council approval. Nor is additional council approval required for the special exception use.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

Victoria Circle Site To Be Annexed, Zoned

Ann Arbor planning commissioners have recommended the annexation and zoning of 2115 Victoria Circle, a 0.5-acre vacant site west of Newport and north of M-14.

2115 Victoria Circle, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

2115 Victoria Circle.

The action came at the commission’s Aug. 19, 2014 meeting.

If approved by the city council, the property will be annexed from Ann Arbor Township and zoned R1A (single family dwelling).

The owner, Abayomi Famurewa, wants to build a single-family home there and connect to the city’s public water and sanitary sewer service. The staff report notes that the city’s storm sewer system does not extend to that area at this point.

No one spoke during a public hearing on this item.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

Santacroce Elected Chair of Park Advisory Group

The Ann Arbor park advisory commission has elected David Santacroce as chair for the coming year, replacing Ingrid Ault in that position. The vote came at PAC’s Aug. 19, 2014 meeting.

Santacroce is a professor of law at the University of Michigan. Before his appointment to PAC in November 2013, he chaired the city’s North Main Huron River corridor task force, which last year delivered its report to the council on recommendations for that corridor.

Paige Morrison was elected vice chair. Each vote was conducted by “secret ballot” as stipulated in PAC’s bylaws. The one-year terms begin Sept. 1.

Typically, the current vice chair is nominated and elected as chair. However, PAC’s vice chair – Graydon Krapohl – is running unopposed for a city council seat in Ward 4. He won the Aug. 5 Democratic primary, also unopposed, and will appear on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election. Krapohl told The Chronicle that he plans to step down from PAC after the November election, but is interested in being appointed as one of the two city council ex officio members. Those positions are currently held by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Taylor won the Aug. 5 Democratic mayoral primary, and faces independent Bryan Kelly in November.

Ault is planning to resign her position on PAC later this year, as she is moving out of town. Earlier this year she took a job as an educator with the Michigan State University Extension in Calhoun County, Michigan, based in Marshall. She says she is currently commuting there from Ann Arbor, but plans to move.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

Selma Cafe Takes a Hiatus

Selma Cafe, the Ann Arbor breakfast fundraiser that has supported local farming efforts since 2009, is taking an indefinite hiatus, according to co-founder and operations manager Lisa Gottlieb. The monthly gathering had previously announced that it would close just for the summer – the last breakfast was in May.

But on Aug. 18, Gottlieb posted this message on the Selma Cafe website: ”Dear friends and supporters of Selma Cafe, As we move towards September, the board of directors of Selma Cafe, and I, are discussing what is next for Selma Cafe. The monthly breakfast parties are currently on hold. Please stay tuned for updates on activities, and thanks to all for the love!”

Selma Cafe began as a weekly breakfast salon in 2009, held on Friday mornings at the home of Gottlieb and Jeff McCabe in Ann Arbor’s Eberwhite neighborhood, on the city’s west side. Operations were suspended in mid-April of 2013, after the city notified the group that the breakfasts were violating local zoning ordinances. At roughly the same time, Selma’s previous fiscal sponsor – the nonprofit Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) – froze funds it held on behalf of Selma Cafe, citing violations of a memorandum of understanding between the two entities. Artrain, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit, agreed to take on the sponsorship responsibilities, and the IRS expedited Selma’s application for nonprofit status.

The volunteer-supported fundraising breakfasts resumed in June of 2013 at a new location – in the common house dining room at Sunward Cohousing, 424 Little Lake Drive. The cohousing community is located off of Jackson Road, west of Ann Arbor in Scio Township. The events shifted to a Saturday brunch, held monthly and featuring guest chefs and locally sourced food. Chefs this year have included Eduardo Rubio of Aventura and local attorney Nick Roumel, among others.

About a year ago, Selma Cafe received a 501(c)3 nonprofit designation from the IRS, a final step needed to secure financial autonomy.

Board members for the nonprofit include Roumel, local farmer Nathan Lada, long-time Selma Cafe volunteers Susie Baity and Kyoko Yamamoto, and McCabe, who also is owner of Nifty Hoops.

Gottlieb, who emailed The Chronicle with the news on Aug. 18, indicated that the transition over the past year has been difficult, requiring a tremendous amount of work for her personally, although she stressed that Sunward Cohousing has been welcoming and has worked to accommodate Selma Cafe’s needs. She has also become interested in nonviolent communication (NVC), describing it as “a form of conflict resolution and peace making that seems essential to our world these days.” She’s been working closely with NVC-certified trainers to bring workshops and classes on into the Ann Arbor area, including a year-long training program. “I am finding that is currently where I have passion and stamina,” Gottlieb wrote in an email.

“The board of Selma Cafe and I are in discussions about what is next for our organization,” Gottlieb wrote, “and we are all very invested in finding new and creative ways to support local food and sustainable agriculture in the near future, while allowing the format of the breakfast parties to shift to other activities. We are all tremendously grateful and appreciative for the love and support from volunteers, guests and friends of Selma Cafe. I’ll keep the website updated as we move forward.”

City Council Rejects Ride-Share Regulation

In action taken on Aug. 18, 2014, the Ann Arbor city council approved one change to its taxicab ordinance, but rejected another one meant to provide some regulation of shared-ride services like Uber and Lyft. Based on the council’s deliberations, the city will instead likely be taking the approach of establishing an operating agreement with the companies.

The rejected ordinance failed on a 5-5 vote, as Margie Teall (Ward 4) was absent. Voting for the regulation of all drivers for hire were Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Voting against the change were mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

The one ordinance change given initial approval by the council 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.

The city taxicab board’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28 at 8:30 a.m. at city hall, and will likely include discussion of the appropriate price point for that very high maximum.

The ordinance change rejected on Aug. 18 would have required all drivers for hire to be registered with the city, to have commercial plates on their vehicles and to maintain insurance commensurate with commercial plates. And the absence of commercial plates on a vehicle that is observed to be used for picking up or dropping off passengers would have provided a reason for a traffic stop by Ann Arbor police. At the taxicab board meetings over the last few months, representatives of the taxicab industry argued that the state statute regulating limousines already gives the city the ability to enforce against Uber and Lyft drivers.

All drivers for hire would include those who work for Uber and Lyft, who together had a contingent of about 50 people in attendance at the meeting, several of whom addressed the city council during public commentary at the start and the end of the meeting. A representative from Uber, Michael White, was invited to the podium during the council’s deliberations on the ordinance. He spoke to councilmembers in a back-and-forth that lasted about 25 minutes, and recited many of Uber’s standard marketing points. No representatives from the taxicab industry seemed to be in attendance at the meeting; in any case, councilmembers did not inquire as to whether a representative might be available for comment.

The recommended ordinance changes came from the city’s taxicab board in the context of the entry of Uber and Lyft into the Ann Arbor market. The companies offer the arrangement of rides through mobile networks with drivers who operate their own vehicles. Both companies have continued to operate in Ann Arbor, despite cease-and-desist orders from the city. [.pdf of cease-and-desist sent to Lyft] [.pdf of cease-and-desist sent to Uber]

The vote by the taxicab board to recommend the ordinance changes came at its July 24, 2014 meeting.

These issues were also discussed at three monthly meetings of the taxicab board prior to that, on April 23, 2014, May 22, 2014 and June 26, 2014.

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Kunselman – who serves on the taxicab board – advocated strongly for the changes, making arguments based on public safety and adherence to existing law. He argued that Lyft and Uber can make a profit with lower rates because the companies are “cheating” the law.

Taylor said that Uber and Lyft are safe and that the companies provide an alternative transportation option, which is desirable. He announced that he would be working with Briere to bring forward a resolution directing the city administrator to develop an operating agreement between the city and ride-sharing companies along the same lines that the city of Detroit has with such companies. His remarks were met with applause from Uber and Lyft supporters, including some riders and drivers who spoke during public commentary.

Regarding fare regulation, the city’s current structure already allows for the establishment of a maximum rate to be adopted by the city council. Currently the maximum rate in Ann Arbor is $3 to get in, $2.50 per mile, and 40 cents per minute waiting time. Those maximum rates were last adjusted upwards three years ago, on May 16, 2011, in response to gas prices that had nudged past $4 per gallon. At that time, the taxicab board indicated it did not anticipate considering another rate change until the gas prices were over $5 for at least two consecutive months.

So the taxicab board’s thinking is not being driven by gas prices, which are currently between $3.75 and $4 in the Ann Arbor area. Instead, a possible increase in allowable fares is based on concern that the taxicab industry in Ann Arbor might not be able to survive unless taxis are allowed to charge more.

At its July 24 meeting, taxicab board members discussed the possibility of delaying their recommendation on the ordinance changes until the board could also make a specific recommendation on the price point for a very high maximum rate. But ultimately board members felt that a recommendation on a price point for a new maximum rate could come later – especially because ordinance changes require a first and second reading in front of the council. There would be a window of opportunity between those readings to make a recommendation on the higher maximum. The taxicab board’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28 at 8:30 a.m. at city hall.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

City Delays Parking Lease with University

A two-year extension on a University of Michigan lease of three city of Ann Arbor parking lots at Fuller Park has been delayed by the city council.

The council’s unanimous vote to postpone consideration of the lease agreement came at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, after a brief discussion. The council will take up the item again at its first meeting in October – on Oct. 6. The lease came to the council with a recommendation of approval from the park advisory commission, given at its July 15, 2014 meeting. The council now wants PAC to take another look at the agreement.

Fuller Park, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Map of parking lots at Fuller Park that are leased to the University of Michigan.

The existing lease expires on Aug. 31, 2014. Given that the lease is expiring, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) asked about the implications of postponing until October. Mayor John Hieftje indicated that the lease renewal came to the council later than it should have.

The three lots are: (1) the parking lot south of Fuller Road, next to the railroad tracks (Lot A); (2) the paved parking lot north of Fuller Road at Fuller Park (Lot B); and (3) the unpaved parking lot north of Fuller Road at Fuller Park (Lot C). The lots are used by UM during restricted hours.

The city has leased Lot A to UM since 1993. Lots B and C have been leased since 2009.

Annual revenue of this lease would be $78,665, and will be included as part of the parks and recreation general fund budget. [.pdf of proposed lease agreement] [.pdf of staff report]

The hours that UM can use these lots are stipulated in the agreement:

  • Lot A: 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Lot B (paved lot): 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, beginning the day after Labor Day through the Friday before Memorial Day, excluding holidays.
  • Lot C (unpaved lot): 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

At PAC’s July 15 meeting when the lease was recommended, parks and recreation manager Colin Smith noted that the revenue from these three lots is significant for the parks and recreation operating budget. The current agreement – which was approved by the council in 2009 and extended by two administrative renewals – is essentially the same as the agreement that will expire, Smith told PAC.

The main purpose of the lots is for the parks, Smith explained. That’s reflected in the hours when UM can use the lots – on weekdays, prior to 4-5 p.m. The outdoor pool and soccer fields don’t need the quantity of parking during the winter or off-season. “It’s an asset within the parks department that we can either have sit there, or we can lease it for a significant amount of revenue that obviously helps us provide other programs,” he said. If the city doesn’t lease those parking lots, “I am absolutely certain that people will park in it anyway,” Smith added.

Two residents who had raised concerns about the lease at PAC’s July 15 meeting – Rita Mitchell and George Gaston – also addressed the city council on the same issue on Aug. 18. Their commentary is reported in The Chronicle’s live updates of that meeting.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Ann Arbor OKs $20K to Create Deer Plan

The Ann Arbor city council has voted to appropriate $20,000 from the general fund for development of a “community endorsed deer management plan” and to accept formally a deer management options report from city administrator Steve Powers. [.pdf of Aug. 14, 2014 deer management options report]

Combined antlered/antlerless deer taken in 2012. (Data from Michigan Department of Natural resources. Map by The Chronicle. Image links to dynamic map.)

Combined antlered/antlerless deer taken in 2012. (Data from Michigan Department of Natural resources. Map by The Chronicle. Image links to dynamic map.)

Action came in a unanimous vote at the council’s Aug. 18, 2104 meeting, after about 15 minutes of discussion. The council had directed the preparation of the report in a resolution approved at its May 5, 2014 meeting. The report, which presented various options to the council, was to have been delivered by July 31.

Fall 2015 is the earliest date identified in the report as a possible timeframe for a culling of the herd.

Before developing a specific plan – that could involve killing deer or not – input from Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation and the University of Michigan would be sought. And the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would need to approve any plan for deer management. The Aug. 14 report includes descriptions of deer management plans in other Michigan cities that range from ordinances prohibiting the feeding of deer to culling programs that shut down city parks and prescribe shooting lanes for archers.

City of Ann Arbor staff estimate that six months would be needed for public engagement. That public engagement could start within 45 days of city council approval to proceed.

Estimated staff time to develop the specific plan is 160 hours, according to the Aug. 14 report. Contractual public engagement and support to develop a management plan are estimated at $20,000.

Other facts included in the plan are the fact that neither city parks nor golf courses have had vegetation damage by deer. The cost to the city for disposing of deer carcasses in fiscal year 2014 was $5,850.

Estimated cost to kill 40-50 deer in the city of Ann Arbor is $25,000-$27,000 per year. That amount includes city staff administration cost in the amount of $14,000.

A Michigan DNR report indicates that in 2012 there were about 6,600 deer taken by hunters in Washtenaw County.

All deer-car accidents in Washtenaw County from 2004 through 2013 are plotted in the dynamic map below. Map is by The Chronicle with data from michigantrafficcrashfacts.org

The city of Ann Arbor has two deer crossing signs, one at Huron Parkway and Hubbard and the other on Dhu Varren Road.

Since 2004 the number of vehicle-deer crashes in Washtenaw County has shown a slight downward trend. (Data from michigantrafficcrashfacts.org, chart by The Chronicle)

Since 2004, the number of vehicle-deer crashes in Washtenaw County has shown a slight downward trend. (Data from michigantrafficcrashfacts.org, chart by The Chronicle)

Since 2004 the number of vehicle-deer crashes in Ann Arbor has shown a slight upward trend. (Data from michigantrafficcrashfacts.org, chart by The Chronicle)

Since 2004, the number of vehicle-deer crashes in Ann Arbor has shown a slight upward trend. (Data from michigantrafficcrashfacts.org, chart by The Chronicle)

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Guenzel Reappointed to DDA Board

Bob Guenzel has been reappointed to a second four-year term on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. The city council took the action at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The council’s confirmation vote, on the mayoral nomination that had been made at the council’s Aug. 7 meeting, was unanimous, with no discussion.

Guenzel was first appointed to the DDA board in 2010 when mayor John Hieftje chose not to reappoint Jennifer Santi Hall. During her tenure on the DDA board, Hall was on occasion sharply critical of the board as a group – for a lack of commitment to open and transparent governance.

During Guenzel’s first four years of service, board decisions on salary increases for DDA executive director Susan Pollay – in FY 2013 and FY 2014 – were apparently made in a way that violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act (OMA). The DDA has not produced minutes of any meeting when the board made decisions to increase Pollay’s salary in those years.

Guenzel is likely more familiar with requirements of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act than typical DDA board members are – through his experience as former Washtenaw County administrator. And though retired, Guenzel is also an attorney who maintains his membership in the Michigan Bar Association (P14457).

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

121 Kingsley West Gets Initial Council OK

Rezoning of 121 W. Kingsley Street for a proposed new condo development has received initial approval from the Ann Arbor city council.

121 Kingsley West, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Rendering of 121 Kingsley West project, looking south from Kingsley. The existing building is in the left foreground.

The project calls for rezoning the site from a planned unit development (PUD) to D2 (downtown interface). The development would include renovating the existing two-story, 2,539-square-foot building, plus constructing two additional buildings: (1) a 3.5-story addition to the existing building; and (2) a 4.5-story structure at the southeast corner of West Kingsley and North Ashley. In total, the development would include 22 units and 40,689 square feet. The estimated cost is $6.5 million.

Council action on the initial approval came at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The site plan will not come before the council until the rezoning is considered for a second and final vote. The Ann Arbor planning commission’s recommendation of approval for the site plan and the rezoning came at its July 15, 2014 meeting.

Developers are Tom Fitzsimmons, Peter Allen and Mark Berg. The architect is Marc Rueter.

There would be 29 parking spaces below the buildings – though only two spaces are required, based on residential premiums that the project is seeking. The premiums give the project additional floor area, compare to what’s allowed by right. An elevator for each building will be accessible from the parking level. The parking level of the east building will include a bike room with 14 spaces.

According to a staff report, the project’s development agreement will address “easements for encroachments onto the City right of way by the existing building, onsite stormwater management, verification of LEED points, six required footing drain disconnects, future façade alterations, and the contribution to Parks and Recreation Services.” [.pdf of staff report]

Planning commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning, site plan and development agreement. However, only five commissioners on the nine-member body were present, and the commission’s bylaws stipulate that approval requires six votes. So the project was forwarded to city council for consideration with a recommendation of denial from the commission. Wendy Woods, the commission’s chair, assured the developers that city council would be informed that the project secured unanimous support from all commissioners who were present.

The project is on the same site as a previously proposed project by Peter Allen called Kingsley Lane. That had been envisioned as a larger development with 46 units in a complex with two “towers” – at four and nine stories. According to a 2006 Ann Arbor News article, pre-sales of the units were slower than expected because of the struggling housing market, and ultimately financing fell through. At a July 9, 2013 planning commission work session, planning manager Wendy Rampson reported that the developers had lost the property to the bank, but subsequently secured the land and were expected to submit a new site plan.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

Zoning for AAHC North Maple Project OK’d

The rezoning required for an Ann Arbor Housing Commission project – a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road – has been given final approval by the city council at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning will change from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site plan, which has been 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 related item on the Aug. 18 agenda, which was also given approval by the council, was the vacation of a portion of the city’s right-of-way for Seybold Drive.

The Ann Arbor planning commission recommended all three items for approval at its meeting on June 17, 2014. The council gave initial approval of the rezoning at its July 7, 2014 meeting.

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.

The project is part of a major renovation effort by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission of several of its properties. The site is on the west side of North Maple, between Dexter Avenue and Hollywood Drive. [.pdf of staff report]

The units in the eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex are proposed to have a total of 138 bedrooms. The units range in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms.

The project will include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings will be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There would be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive.

The project also requires the city to vacate a portion of the right-of-way for Seybold Drive. The surrounding land is owned by the housing commission, the land will become part of the housing commission property. In a separate vote, the planning commission also recommended approving that request.

When the project was in front of the planning commission, planning staff noted three issues that need to be resolved before the project gets approval from city council:

The parcel containing two duplex buildings also owned by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission in the northeast corner of the site must be combined with the subject site, forming a single parcel as a requirement for issuance of any permits.

The legal description and comparison chart data must be confirmed to include the duplex parcel.

The northern-most parking stall, nearest the connection to Vine Court, must be relocated outside of the minimum front setback area.

According to the staff memo, after June 3 the city’s traffic engineer reviewed the proposed new connection from Seybold Drive onto Dexter Avenue, and concluded that sight distances from all approaches are acceptable. He suggested that the pavement markings on Dexter should be refreshed.

The reconstruction of North Maple Estates is part of an ongoing effort by the housing commission to upgrade the city’s housing stock for low-income residents. At the planning commission’s May 6, 2014 meeting, AAHC executive director Jennifer Hall had made a presentation about the initiative, which includes seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

State Street Village Gets Council OK

Approval of the site plan and rezoning of land for the State Street Village project at 2221-2223 S. State St. has been given by the Ann Arbor city council.

The 4.5-acre parcel will be rezoned from M1 (limited industrial district) to O (office district). It’s a $10 million project by Ann Arbor-based McKinley Inc. 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 apartments above it – will be built on the front of the parcel, on South State.

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

Aerial view of State Street Village site.

Final action came at the council’s Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. Action on the initial zoning approval came at the city council’s meeting on July 21. A recommendation for the rezoning was given at the June 17, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission.

At that meeting, commissioners recommended approval of the site plan, development agreement and rezoning for the project.

The front part of the site is currently a surface parking lot, and is zoned O (office). The rear parcel – 4.5 acres – is vacant, and zoned M1 (limited industrial). Residential developments are permitted in office-zoned areas. [.pdf of staff report]

The development will include 114 parking spaces in the rear of the site and 13 spaces for the front. Another 22 spaces in the surface parking lot will be shared by the existing office building just south of the site.

In addition, 44 covered bicycle spaces and 8 enclosed bicycle spaces will be provided near the entrances of the apartment buildings and 2 hoops will be placed near the entrance of the rental office building.

Instead of making a $48,360 requested donation to the city for parks, McKinley has proposed two 8×10-foot grilling patios with picnic tables and grills.

According to the staff memo, the footing drains of 18 homes, or flow equivalent to 71.91 gallons per minute, will need to be disconnected from the city’s sanitary sewer system to mitigate flow from this proposed development.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.

AG OKs Ann Arbor Ballot Questions

A successful election lawsuit filed against the city of Ann Arbor led last month to city council action to place a charter amendment in front of voters on Nov. 4, 2014. The amendments – which establish eligibility requirements for elected and appointed officials – were placed on the fall ballot in a July 21, 2014 vote of the council.

And now the ballot language for the two proposed Ann Arbor city charter amendments has been certified by Michigan’s attorney general as meeting the requirements of the Home Rule City Act. The AG’s office communicated its conclusion in an Aug. 8, 2014 letter to Gov. Rick Snyder’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 federal court ruled that the city’s requirements were not enforceable, because they had been struck down as unconstitutional in two different court cases dating from the early 1970s. Similar durational requirements have – in the intervening years – been found constitutional in various jurisdictions. However, the court ruled on May 20 this year that the city could not enforce its requirements against Ward 3 Democratic primary candidate Bob Dascola – because the city had not re-enacted its requirement using a standard legislative process. The placement of a ballot proposal in front of voters on Nov. 4 will use the legislative process of a popular referendum on the charter to establish eligibility requirements that are enforceable.

The language approved by the council at its July 21 meeting imposes a requirement that in order to be mayor, someone would need to be a registered voter in the city, and to serve on the city council someone would need to be a registered voter in the ward they seek to represent – at the time they submit their paperwork to appear on the ballot.

For example, a potential candidate for the city council would need to be a registered voter in the ward they seek to represent at the time they submit their qualifying signatures to the city clerk. And a potential candidate for mayor would need to be a registered voter in the city at the time they submit their qualifying signatures to the city clerk.

With paperwork for partisan primaries due in April – for November elections – the new requirements would translate practically speaking to something similar to a six-and-a-half-month durational requirement. For independent candidates, that timeframe would be closer to three and a half months. In the case of a vacancy that needs to be filled by appointment, the new charter requirement would require the person to be a registered voter in the geographic area they are being appointed to represent – at the time of appointment.

A second amendment to the charter to be decided by voters on Nov. 4 would acknowledge state law with respect to residency requirements for paid appointed officials. With a few exceptions, local municipalities can’t impose geographic requirements on the residence of paid officials. The amendment would also stipulate that unpaid appointed officials must be registered voters in the city, unless that requirement is waived by a seven-vote majority on the 11-member city council.

Four Candidates File for AADL Board Race

Four candidates have filed to run for three seats on the Ann Arbor District Library board in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election: Karen Hart, Jim Leija, and incumbents Jan Barney Newman and Ed Surovell. The filing deadline was Aug. 12.

These are non-partisan positions, with four-year terms starting Jan. 1, 2015. The seats are currently held by Newman, Surovell and Barbara Murphy, who decided not to seek re-election. Voters will be able to choose up to three of the four candidates on the ballot.

Leija is director of education and community engagement at the University Musical Society, a position he’s held since 2011. He’s worked for UMS in various roles since 2008.

Hart served as planning manager for the city of Ann Arbor from 1992-2004, and later was planning and development director for the city of Ypsilanti from 2006-2008. Her tenure as Ann Arbor’s planning manager overlapped with Surovell’s service on the city’s planning commission. Surovell owned an eponymous real estate firm until it was acquired by Howard Hanna in 2012. He has served on the AADL board since 1996, when he was elected to the first board after the library system separated from the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Newman, who currently serves as board treasurer, is retired. Her professional background includes founding two Ann Arbor-based businesses: Aristoplay, an educational game company; and Learning Express, an educational toy store. She’s seeking her third term on the AADL board, having been elected for the first time in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Positions on the seven-member AADL board are elected by voters in Ann Arbor and portions of seven townships that are covered by the library’s district – Pittsfield, Scio, Ann Arbor, Lodi, Webster, Salem and Superior. Those are the same boundaries served by the Ann Arbor Public Schools, with the exception of Northfield Township, which is partly within the AAPS district but has its own library system.

AAATA: Aug. 21 Meeting Location Change

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board has announced that it will hold its Aug. 21, 2014 regular board meeting at the AAATA headquarters at 2700 South Industrial Highway. The typical meeting location is the downtown building of the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL). However, the library building is currently closed for an undetermined period as the main elevator is being repaired.

The start time for the Aug. 21 meeting, which will be held in the boardroom at AAATA headquarters, is 6:30 p.m. The AAATA facility is not equipped with built-in Community Television Network cameras as the AADL is. It’s not yet clear if AAATA will ask that a mobile CTN crew be dispatched to AAATA headquarters to record the meeting. As a contingency, The Chronicle will likely provide a live audio broadcast from the meeting, which will be recorded and archived by The Chronicle. Updated Aug. 21: CTN is scheduled to record the proceeding of the meeting.