Ann Arbor city council meeting (March 5, 2012): The council’s meeting did not conclude until almost 1 a.m., prompting resident Thomas Partridge to remark during public commentary at the conclusion of the meeting, “It’s almost time to plan for breakfast!”
Left to right: Councilmembers Sandi Smith (Ward 1), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2). (Photos by the writer.)
The issue driving the lengthy meeting was an agreement between four different entities, including the city of Ann Arbor, that would set up a framework for a transition of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to a new funding and governance structure. The intent of transitioning to a new authority would be to provide increased transportation service both within the city of Ann Arbor as well as throughout Washtenaw County.
The Ann Arbor city council approved the agreement on Monday night on a 7-4 vote, after postponing it three times previously. That sets the stage for the city of Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the AATA to approve it as well. Even after approval by those three entities, several steps would remain before a new transit authority, incorporated under Michigan’s Act 196, could take over transportation services from the AATA.
The council considered several amendments to the agreement, but approved only two relatively minor, clarificational items. [.pdf of agreement as amended]
Toward the end of the meeting, the nomination of University of Michigan planner Sue Gott to the AATA board was given spirited discussion by two councilmembers, but was ultimately confirmed on a unanimous vote.
Falling victim to the lengthy deliberations on the transit agreement was a resolution that would direct the city attorney to delay enforcement of medical marijuana laws for local dispensaries, except for zoning violations. A vote on that resolution was postponed without deliberation, due to the late hour. That resolution comes in the context of a recommendation from the city council’s medical marijuana licensing board, currently pending with the council, to award the first 10 medical marijuana licenses under local legislation enacted last year.
Related to a different kind of licensing, the council approved a resolution that recommends non-renewal of liquor licenses for two establishments in Ann Arbor – Dream Nite Club and Rush Street. A hearing on the two licenses will be held on March 19, with the city council’s final recommendation to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to be made that same day.
The council also passed several resolutions related to land and its use. The council approved the acquisition of another 58.85 acres under its greenbelt program, as well as the purchase of property on West Kingsley so that a long-vacant house there can finally be demolished. A rain garden is to be constructed on that parcel, because it’s situated in the Allen Creek floodway. In a related item, a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood map was also given final approval by the council on Monday night.
The council gave initial approval to a revision of parking regulations in open space at the front of land parcels, but postponed any action on a proposed revision that would eliminate a requirement on landscape buffers in areas zoned R4C (multi-family residential).
Receiving approval from the council were a total of nearly $1.7 million in renovations to several of the city parks. The funding includes improvements to ballfields at Veterans Memorial Park, Southeast Area Park and West Park, as well as upgrades to roads and paths at Buhr Park and Cobblestone Farm.
The council also approved the issuance of $120 million in revenue bonds for the reconstruction of the city’s sewage treatment facilities, long planned and in the works. [Full Story]