After making multiple complaints about the overgrowth and blight at the Glen/Ann site over the summer, I see that someone finally cleaned it up (mostly) last week. And then these signs [notice of foreclosure] magically appeared yesterday. [photo] [Ed. note: According to Washtenaw County treasurer Catherine McClary the notice was posted by her office. It's a standard back-taxes issue, with eventual payment expected. There's a long timeline before property would actually be foreclosed.]
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Oct. 18, 2010): On Monday night, the council gave an initial approval to a set of zoning laws that are intended to regulate medical marijuana use in the city. It also gave the city attorney direction to pursue the development of a license for medical marijuana facilities. All ordinances require an initial approval – a first reading – followed by a second and final reading at a later meeting.
Also related to zoning was the council’s second-reading consideration of changes in the city’s zoning code for areas outside the downtown, across most of the city’s zoning classifications. The changes affect area, height and placement (AHP). The final approval of the AHP zoning overhaul had been postponed from council’s first meeting of the month, on Oct. 5, at the request of Marcia Higgins (Ward 4).
At Monday’s meeting, Higgins brought forth amendments that confined a height cap on buildings to areas adjacent to residential areas. The amendments would allow taller buildings in some non-residential areas, like Briarwood Mall. After some deliberation on the merits of the amendments, Higgins withdrew them, and the council elected to postpone the measure. With Higgins’ amendments, the proposal would be substantively different from the proposal that had already received council approval at first reading, and would thus require an additional reading before final adoption.
In other matters before the council, it was also Higgins who provided much of the impetus for conversation. Two items involved modification to the city’s budget by drawing upon the general fund reserve. One involved a $153,116 expenditure for the city’s planning department to fund corridor planning, and the other was a $160,000 item to purchase furniture for the 15th District Court, which will soon take up residence in the new municipal center at Fifth and Huron. The planning department money was approved over Higgins’ dissent, while the court’s expenditure was postponed, pending the production of an itemized list of what’s being purchased. The two items prompted discussion of the projected budget deficit for FY 2012, which the city’s CFO had estimated in May to be $5 million.
In other business, the council took the final step to enact a special assessment of property owners along Washtenaw Avenue to fund a portion of a new non-motorized path. The council also approved its part of a two-year extension to the consent agreement with Glen Ann Place, which gave site-plan approval for a project at the corner of Glen and Ann streets. Council also gave initial approval to stricter stormwater management rules for impervious surfaces in residential zoning districts.
Council chambers were filled at the start of the meeting with many members of the community who came to hear a proclamation and watch councilmembers vote on a resolution giving council’s support to a similar Michigan Civil Rights Commission resolution. The MCRC condemned the conduct of assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell, who has written blog posts targeting Chris Armstrong, an openly gay University of Michigan student leader. The Ann Arbor city council’s resolution also calls upon the state legislature to pass a proposed comprehensive hate crime bill and a school anti-bullying law currently before the state Senate.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Oct. 4, 2010): While the city council postponed two major pieces of business, it did take action on two others.
First, the council voted to discontinue a pilot program to turn off selected streetlights. The program was designed to save $120,000 for the current fiscal year’s budget [FY 2011]. No additional streetlights will be turned off, and those that were switched off as part of the pilot program will be turned back on.
And the council voted to authorize the issuance of $9 million in general obligation bonds in connection with the parking deck to be built as part of Village Green’s City Apartments project at First and Washington. The bonds could take the form of conventional tax-exempt bonds, or other bonds, depending on which are legally available and most advantageous to the city when they’re issued. The bonds won’t be needed until the construction of Village Green’s project is completed.
In 2008 the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority passed a resolution authorizing that the bond payments be made from revenues generated by the city’s public parking system, which is managed by the DDA. The city council approved an extension to the purchase option agreement for the land at its Aug. 5 meeting.
Two expected votes did not take place. Revisions to the city’s zoning code that would change the specifications for area, height and placement in most zoning districts of the city outside the downtown were postponed at the request of Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), who said that she had questions she’d been unable to submit in time to get answers.
And in the absence of Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) – who arrived late to the meeting – Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) asked for postponement of a five-year extension of the 2007 consent judgment the city reached with Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, developer of the Glen Ann Place project.
Glen Ann Place was a planned unit development (PUD) approved by the council in July 2005, but that did not win subsequent approval from the city’s historic district commission. Freed then filed suit against the city, the outcome of which was a consent judgment. Per the consent judgment, the height of the building was reduced from 10 to 9 stories. Glen Ann Place is planned to include retail and office uses on its first two floors, with residential on upper stories.
In other business, the council approved a handful of recommendations for liquor licenses, approved a rezoning for the land where the University of Michigan’s new soccer facility has been built, and approved an overhauling of the ordinance that governs how false alarms to fire and police are penalized.
The council also received a variety of updates from staff, including one on the traffic control plan for the East Stadium bridges when they are reconstructed next year, as well as a response from the city’s CFO to recent community discussion of significant unpaid taxes that might be owed to the city.
The city council also accepted a gift on behalf of the city from the Ann Arbor Summer Festival – a giant print of a photograph by Myra Klarman.