Stories indexed with the term ‘non-motorized plan’

Ann Arbor OKs Update to Non-Motorized Plan

An update to the city of Ann Arbor’s non-motorized transportation plan has been adopted by the city council in action taken at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. The vote was unanimous.

Map identifying geographic areas for improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, as noted in the 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update. Map identifying geographic areas for improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, as noted in the 2013 non-motorized transportation plan … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Non-Motorized Plan Update: Postponed

Action on an update to Ann Arbor’s non-motorized transportation plan – which is part of the city’s master plan – has been postponed by the city council. The council’s decision to postpone consideration of adopting the plan took place at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting. The planning commission had adopted the plan at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update]

[Full Story]

Nov. 7, 2013 City Council: Live Updates

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.

New sign on door to Ann Arbor city council chamber

The sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.

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. [Full Story]

Nov. 7, 2013 Ann Arbor City Council: Preview

The Nov. 7, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council is the last one with the current composition of the 11-member 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.

Screenshot of Legistar – the city of Ann Arbor online agenda management system. Image links to the next meeting agenda.

Screenshot of Legistar – the city of Ann Arbor online agenda management system. Image links to the Nov. 7 meeting agenda.

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 on 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 under consideration by the council since February, but now a committee of councilmembers and DDA board members has put forward 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 on 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. The meeting proceedings can be followed live Thursday evening on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network. [Full Story]

Update to City’s Non-Motorized Plan Approved

An update to the city of Ann Arbor’s non-motorized transportation plan, which is part of the city’s master plan, got approval from the planning commission at its Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. The commission also recommended that the plan be approved by the city council. Items in the city’s master plan must receive approval from both the planning commission and the council. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update]

non-motorized transportation plan, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Map identifying geographic areas for improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, as noted in the 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update.

The 182-page update will be an amendment to the main non-motorized transportation plan, … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor to Distribute Non-Motorized Plan

The Ann Arbor city council has taken another step toward incorporating an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan into the city’s master plan.

On June 3, 2013, the council approved distribution of the plan to adjoining jurisdictions and stakeholders, including the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, DTE Energy, the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, and the Ann Arbor Public Schools. These entities will have 42 days to submit comments.

A recommendation to distribute the city of Ann Arbor’s draft non-motorized transportation plan update had been unanimously approved by the city’s planning commission at its April 16, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of staff report and draft non-motorized plan]

This is an update of a plan that was initially … [Full Story]

Planning Commission Signs Off on R4C Draft

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (April 16, 2013): Moving ahead on a project that’s been years in the works, planning commissioners took action at its meeting to adopt a set of changes to the city’s R4C/R2A residential zoning districts.

Commissioners unanimously recommended that the city council adopt the draft changes, and that the council direct the planning staff and commissioners to develop ordinance language that would implement these recommendations.

Wendy Woods, Matt Kowalski, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Wendy Woods consults with city planner Matt Kowalski prior to the April 16 Ann Arbor planning commission meeting, which Woods chaired. The commission’s chair, Kirk Westphal, was absent. (Photos by the writer.)

Eight people spoke during a public hearing on the recommendations, including several who’d served on an R4C/R2A advisory committee. They raised a variety of concerns primarily related to lot combinations, parking requirements, and a proposed “group housing” district.

Related to lot combinations, several speakers urged commissioners to institute a maximum lot size of 6,525 square feet, equal to an allowable density of three units. This had been a recommendation of the advisory committee, in an effort to prevent future projects like the large City Place apartment buildings on South Fifth Avenue.

In contrast, the planning commission’s recommendations call for more flexibility in combining lots, but don’t yet provide much detail about how that approach would work. The approach would require planning commission approval of lot combinations as part of a project’s site plan review. Review standards would still need to be developed, as well as standards for design and massing – to ensure that any new development is compatible with the neighborhood.

The proposed group housing district was another point of concern for speakers during the public hearing, and was the focus for much of the commission’s deliberations. The recommendations designate a new zoning district, located south and west of the University of Michigan’s central campus. It would be roughly an area outlined in the city’s Central Area Plan, but with final boundaries to be determined. [.pdf of Central Area Plan] The idea is to address issues that are somewhat unique to neighborhoods with a large amount of student housing.

In general, the new district is intended to allow for flexibility by putting limits on density, but with premiums provided in exchange for community benefits such as pedestrian-friendly and architectural design standards. For example, parking might be based on a building’s total floor-area ratio (FAR), independent of the number of units in a structure. The recommendations call for details of this new district to be fleshed out in a second phase, after other ordinance changes are made that are seen as more straightforward.

Commissioners discussed the terminology for this proposed district, with some preferring the term “flexible housing” rather than “group housing,” which was the phrase used in the Central Area Plan. Commissioners appeared to reach consensus in directing Matt Kowalski – the city planner who’s taken the lead on this project – to clarify the group housing term as one that’s based on the Central Area Plan. Kowalski intends to make some other minor revisions to the draft report, based on feedback from commissioners, before forwarding it to the city council for consideration.

If the recommendations meet with council approval, the planning staff would then work with the city attorney’s office to develop specific ordinance revisions to implement the recommendations. Those ordinance changes would also be reviewed by the planning commission’s ordinance revisions committee before being voted on again by the full planning commission and then the city council.

Related to this R4C ordinance process, some commissioners are concerned about how that work flow would fit in with the ongoing ZORO (zoning ordinance reorganization) project. At a five-hour retreat on April 23, several commissioners expressed frustration that ZORO seems to be languishing in the city attorney’s office. The ZORO project, which started in 2009, is a comprehensive zoning code review aimed at streamlining the development-related city code, clarifying terminology, and eliminating inconsistencies and outdated material. The commission intends to convey its concerns to the city council, hoping to push the project toward completion.

In other action at their April 16 regular meeting, commissioners recommended approval of two residential annexations on the city’s northwest side, and moved forward a project to replace outdated electrical equipment at the Barton Pump Station. The station pumps raw water from Barton Pond to the city’s water treatment plant about two miles away.

Commissioners also recommended that the city council approve distribution of the city of Ann Arbor’s draft non-motorized plan for feedback from neighboring jurisdictions. [.pdf of staff report and draft non-motorized plan] This is an update of a plan that was initially approved in 2007. It makes policy recommendations as well as specific project proposals, primarily related to pedestrian and bicycle travel. [Full Story]

Distribution of Draft Non-Motorized Plan OK’d

A recommendation to distribute the city of Ann Arbor’s draft non-motorized plan update was unanimously approved by the city’s planning commission at its April 16, 2013 meeting. [.pdf of staff report and draft non-motorized plan]

This is an update of a plan that was initially approved in 2007. It makes policy recommendations as well as specific project proposals, primarily related to pedestrian and bicycle travel.

Planning commissioners had been briefed on the draft update by Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, at a March 12 working session. The recommendation, which will be forwarded to the city council, calls for the plan’s distribution to adjoining jurisdictions and stakeholders, including the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, DTE Energy, Norfolk-Southern Railroad, the University … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor: No New Sidewalk Program

A resolution to establish a five-year program to replace sidewalk gaps in the city of Ann Arbor was voted down by the city council at its Sept. 17, 2012 meeting. The resolution had been added to the council’s agenda by Mike Anglin (Ward 5) via an email sent to the city clerk on the morning of Monday’s meeting.

The resolution was amended just to require a report on the issue by Sept. 15, 2013, but it still fell one vote short of the six votes it needed.

The resolution received support from Anglin, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), and Margie Teall (Ward 4). Councilmembers voting against the resolution pointed to the fact that the city’s … [Full Story]

Jackson Avenue: MDOT Stays in Its Lane

A three-hour open house held at Abbot Elementary School on July 10 drew several supporters and opponents of a four-to-three lane conversion for Jackson Avenue on Ann Arbor’s west side.

Burwood Transition four-to-three lane conversion

Under the planned 4-3 lane conversion, four lanes (two each way) would stay in place from the Maple and Jackson intersection eastward through the intersection of Collingwood and Jackson. From Burwood eastward to Dexter-Ann Arbor, one lane would be dedicated in each direction, with the third, middle lane assigned to turning vehicles. (Photos by the writer.)

However, the point of the open house was strictly informational. The Michigan Dept. of Transportation had already made a decision to convert the Jackson Avenue segment – between Burwood and the Dexter-Ann Arbor “Y” in the road – from four to three lanes. That decision came after the Ann Arbor city council passed a resolution at its April 2, 2012 meeting that made a formal request of MDOT to make the conversion.

But the initial request for MDOT to consider a 4-3 lane conversion had come much earlier – from the city of Ann Arbor project management staff. That request resulted in a February 2012 public meeting to solicit public input, when MDOT staff presented the proposal and their traffic analysis. MDOT expects the lane conversion to reduce accidents along the corridor.

The lane conversion, which amounts to re-striping the lanes, not changing the roadway footprint, is scheduled to coordinate with an MDOT road resurfacing project. That project is now expected to be implemented in the spring of 2014. It also includes the portion of Jackson westward to the I-94 interchange.

MDOT staff were on hand Tuesday evening to answer questions. Arranged around the cafeteria were several easels with schematics of the road design, and posters displaying crash statistics and peak traffic flows. Peak attendance at the open house for the first hour was probably around 40 people, which included city of Ann Arbor staff and three city councilmembers – Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1). Lumm and Anglin had voted against the city council’s resolution on lane conversion.

Attendance was hard to judge – because of the open house format, as people filtered in and out. One measure of the strong opinions held by people in the room was two separate attempts by Ann Arbor resident Libby Hunter to call the room to order. The first time was to take a straw poll on the sentiments in the room for and against the lane conversion. On the second occasion, Hunter tried to impose a bit more structure on the open house format, by suggesting that people gather around a table for a question-and-answer session.

This article begins with some basic background on the historical impetus behind the city of Ann Arbor’s current focus on Jackson Avenue. It draws in a limited way on the experience of other communities in Michigan with 4-3 lane conversions.

The article includes a section on the arguments for 4-3 lane conversions, and current criteria used as guidelines to determine appropriateness of such conversation. Included is an MDOT-commissioned study (not yet adopted by MDOT or the Federal Highway Administration) that came out earlier this year, suggesting a substantial revision to those guidelines.

And because many of the arguments for 4-3 lane conversions are based on the possibility that traffic accidents can be reduced, the article includes a final section on crash data. That final section also includes crash data maps for Ann Arbor traffic accidents from 2004-2011 in a variety of different categories – deer, bicyclists and the “elderly.” [Full Story]

North Main & River Task Force Created

At its May 7, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council passed a resolution establishing a task force to study the corridor along North Main Street and the Huron River.

The creation of the task force comes in the context of the city’s application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds to demolish two former maintenance yard buildings on the city-owned 721 N. Main parcel. The application has been approved by FEMA, but is pending the update of the city’s All-Hazard plan, which had expired and is being updated. FEMA is willing to help fund the demolition, because the two buildings are located in the floodway. The city council’s eventual acceptance of the FEMA grant will require a deed … [Full Story]