Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 7, 2013 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article. We think that will facilitate easier navigation from live-update material to background material already in the file.
The Thursday meeting, shifted from its usual Monday slot due to the Tuesday elections, is the last one with the current composition of the 11-member council. The outcome of Tuesday’s elections left all incumbents in place except for Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), whose departure was decided in the August Democratic primary. Ward 4 primary winner Jack Eaton will be the single new face on the council at its Nov. 18 meeting. At the Nov. 7 meeting, Higgins will likely receive a customary parting gift from her colleagues, to acknowledge her 14 years of service on the council.
The agenda is relatively heavy, featuring at least 34 voting items. This preview includes a more detailed explanation of several of those items, but first provides a thematic overview.
The city’s downtown factors prominently on the agenda in at least three ways. The city council will be asked to consider passing a resolution to direct the city administrator to negotiate a sales agreement for the city-owned property along William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, known as the old Y lot. The council will also be considering a revision to the city ordinance regulating the tax increment finance (TIF) capture of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. That’s been on the agenda since February, but now a committee of councilmembers and DDA board members has put forth a competing recommendation, which will also be on the Nov. 7 agenda.
Also related to downtown, the council will be formally accepting a report completed by the city’s park advisory commission with recommendations related to downtown parks.
Non-motorized issues also factor prominently as a theme of the Nov. 7 agenda. In addition to an update of the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, the council will consider establishing a pedestrian safety task force. The council’s agenda also includes the first of a series of resolutions for two separate sidewalk projects – one on Stone School Road and another on Scio Church Road. The council’s resolutions for those projects, directing the design work and detailed cost estimates, are the first actions necessary for some of the funding of the sidewalks to be special assessed to the adjacent property owners.
An additional project related to non-motorized issues, but not obviously so, is a contract with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation to resurface a portion of Huron Street from Main Street westward as Huron becomes Jackson Avenue on to I-94, as well as a section of South Maple. The intent is to re-stripe the roadway, reducing the lanes from four to three and adding bicycle lanes.
The sidewalk and street projects are among several capital improvement-related items on the agenda, including one that would help stabilize the earthen berm adjacent to Barton Dam. The council will also be considering a half dozen resolutions that will authorize applying for state grants that could fund capital asset projects for the city.
In addition to the items related to the city’s physical infrastructure, the council has several items that could be described as relating to the city’s social infrastructure. Those items relate to grants from the state and federal government to the 15th District Court for several of its specialty courts that focus on drug offenses, domestic violence, and veterans issues. The council will also be asked to approve a modified continuation of its coordinated funding approach to human services.
The agenda includes some council initiatives announced at the council’s previous meeting on Oct. 21. One of those is a resolution requesting that the University of Michigan decommission a recently constructed digital billboard near the football stadium.
Another one is a resolution directing the education of city officials on professional conduct. Related tangentially to those ethical considerations are the approvals of new bylaws for two of the city’s boards and commissions – the planning commission and the design review board.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings Thursday evening on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.
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.