Ann Arbor city council meeting (Sept. 6, 2011): Ordinarily the slot on the council’s agenda for nominations and appointments to various boards and commissions generates little conversation during the meeting – by the public or by the council.
Jonathan Bulkley gently shushes his granddaughter as mayor John Hieftje reads aloud a proclamation honoring him. Bulkley is a long-time University of Michigan professor and board member of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy. (Photo by the writer.)
However, considerable public commentary at the council’s Tuesday meeting – held a day later than usual due to the Labor Day holiday – was connected to appointments to the city’s medical marijuana licensing board. Advocates for access to medical marijuana tied their remarks to that agenda item, though none of the speakers had any apparent issue with the proposed constitution of the board. Instead, they expressed concerned that a recent court of appeals ruling makes the legality of certain dispensary operations uncertain.
On the council’s side, the unusual focus on appointments came during the usually perfunctory vote on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority appointments. That vote was drawn out by a request from Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) to separate out the three appointments for separate roll-call votes. The votes on the reappointment of John Mouat and the new appointment of Nader Nassiff were unanimous. But Kunselman wanted to cast a lone vote of opposition against the reappointment of Joan Lowenstein to the board.
The other non-unanimous vote of the evening came on the reconstruction of a pedestrian bridge over Malletts Creek in the Lansdowne neighborhood. Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) asked his colleagues to indulge him in a two-week postponement on that project, so that he could achieve a clearer understanding of the public-private character of the project and its potential legal liabilities. His colleagues, who indicated they were already familiar with the longstanding issue of the bridge, were disinclined to grant the postponement. So Derezinski voted against the $120,000 project, which will be paid out of the city’s major street fund.
In other street fund expenditures, the city council approved a roughly $550,000 increase in the amount of its contract with Barrett Paving Materials Inc. to undertake additional street repair projects in the 2011 construction season. Progress on the scheduled projects had been sufficiently rapid that it was possible to add the additional work.
Land purchase and lease was the topic of three items on the agenda. In one, the city authorized a $100/month month-to-month lease of part of the city-owned 415 W. Washington building to the Kiwanis Club for storage for the club’s warehouse sale. The council also approved the use of $82,500 from the city’s open space and parkland preservation millage to purchase an Eden Court parcel located next to the Bryant Community Center. And the council held a closed session under the exemption in the Open Meetings Act that allows for such a session for the purpose of land acquisition.
In other business, councilmembers gave initial approval to a change in the city’s pension ordinance, approved the allocation of some money already budgeted for human services, and OK’d the allocation of community events funding.
In his communications time, Kunselman foreshadowed an upcoming issue for the council – the relationship between the street millage and the public art program. First Kunselman offered to fill the slot as council liaison to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. Derezinski had stepped out of that role in order to serve on the city’s public art commission. At Tuesday’s meeting, Kunselman also reiterated his position that the city’s public art program takes money from dedicated millages in a way that is not legal. In response to his comments, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) encouraged Kunselman to take the action he felt was appropriate to rectify that situation.
Among the proclamations made at the start of the meeting was one honoring Jonathan Bulkley for his service to the University of Michigan, the state of Michigan and the nation. Bulkley had addressed the council at its Aug. 4, 2011 meeting in support of the council’s resolution on the greenway – he’s a board member of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy. [Full Story]