Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 18, 2012): Of the two potentially controversial items on the council’s agenda, only one actually resulted in much conversation at the meeting: the site plan approval and brownfield financing for the 618 S. Main project. A possible revision to the city’s year-old medical marijuana licensing ordinance was the other item that could have provoked extended debate – but instead it was quickly postponed, until October, in light of several pieces of legislation currently pending in the Michigan legislature.
From left: Councilmember Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and 618 S. Main developer Dan Ketelaar at the June 18, 2012 Ann Arbor city council meeting. (Photos by the writer.)
The council debated but ultimately approved both the site plan and the brownfield plan for the 618 S. Main project – an apartment complex that Dan Ketelaar’s Urban Group Development Co. intends to market to young professionals. The 7-story building would include 190 units for 231 bedrooms, plus two levels of parking for 121 vehicles. The project had received a recommendation for approval from the city planning commission on Jan. 19, 2012.
The project’s approval meant that the council granted a variance in the height allowed in the D2 (downtown interface) zoning district – 85 feet, which is 25 feet taller than the 60-foot limit allowed in D2. The majority of councilmembers felt that the project reflected a months-long positive collaboration by the developer with neighbors and with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which approved a $650,000 grant to complement the $3.7 million brownfield plan.
The project was opposed by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), who essentially indicated he did not trust Ketelaar and other “speculators.” Kunselman also seemed unconvinced of the environmental benefits of the project. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) joined Kunselman in voting against the site plan and the brownfield plan. Both votes were 8-2 – Sandi Smith (Ward 1) was absent from the 11-member council.
In other business, the council made an adjustment to the current fiscal 2012 budget just before the fiscal year ends on June 30, to ensure that the city conforms with the state statute on uniform budgeting and accounting. The adjustment to the city’s general fund allowed for $1.3 million in additional expenses. Despite that, CFO Tom Crawford said he felt the city would end the year around “break even.”
The council also took action to allocate $1,244,629 to different nonprofits that provide human services. The amount was set as part of the FY 2013 budget, which the city council approved on May 22, 2012.
The council also authorized around $1.5 million for new dump trucks – with stainless steel parts to ensure a longer life than the vehicles they are replacing. And councilmembers approved a roughly $800,000 contract for a five-phase study to analyze stormwater in the city.
Other expenses authorized by the council included a $48,000 annual contract renewal with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., the city’s lobbyist in Lansing, and a $75,000 contract with Ann Arbor SPARK, the area’s economic development agency.
Also at the council’s meeting, nominations for three commissions were floated, to be voted on at the next meeting: Ken Clein for the planning commission; John German for the environmental commission; and Archer Christian for the greenbelt advisory commission. [Full Story]