The pilot episode of The Vegan Roadie features Ann Arbor’s The Lunch Room. The show’s host, Dustin Harder, interviews the restaurant’s owners, Joel Panozzo and Phillis Engelbert, and samples dishes from their menu. [Source]
Ann Arbor city council meeting (Jan. 21, 2014): Council communications at the start of the meeting highlighted an already-established pedestrian safety task force – and signaled that the evening could be contentious. It proved to be a night featuring some political friction, with the meeting extending past 1 a.m.
The pedestrian safety and access task force appeared on the agenda because confirmation of its nine members was a question before the council. As part of that vote, as well as during council communications, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) revived the recent controversy over an attempted repeal of the city’s crosswalk ordinance – an effort that mayor John Hieftje ultimately vetoed. The task force was appointed at Tuesday’s meeting, after Kunselman established that he was still interested in revising the city’s crosswalk ordinance so that motorists would be required to stop for pedestrians only if they could “do so safely.”
In other business, the council approved the site plan for a revised, expanded version of the 624 Church St. project, located in the block just south of South University Avenue. The revised plan is for a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms. The approval came after an hour and a half of debate on the site plan, focusing on the way the project is satisfying a zoning requirement to provide parking spaces – through the city’s contribution-in-lieu (CIL) program. The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority had approved three five-year extensions for the CIL monthly permits – beyond the standard CIL term of 15 years. When Kunselman’s bid to eliminate the extended term failed – a move that would have jeopardized the project’s financing – he told Sean Spellman, representing the developer: “I’m sorry if I scared you …”
Also related to downtown development, the council moved along a process to revise downtown zoning regulations. The council accepted the planning commission’s recommendations, and in turn tasked the planning commission to develop ordinance language to implement the recommendations. In general, the planning commission’s recommendations were intended to create more of a buffer between downtown development and adjacent or nearby residential neighborhoods. Several other recommendations focused on the issue of “premiums” – certain features that a developer can provide in exchange for additional by-right floor area ratio (FAR).
During its Tuesday meeting, the council added some direction of its own: (1) consider rezoning Huron Street from Division to Fourth Avenue to conform with the East Huron 1 character district, and consider incorporating 25-foot minimum side setbacks and 10-foot front setbacks where feasible in the East Huron 1 character district; and (2) consider whether other D1-zoned areas that do not have buffering from adjacent residential neighborhoods, including some areas of South University and Thayer Street, should be rezoned to D2. A date certain was also added by which the planning commission is to report to the council on all its work on this issue – Oct. 20, 2014.
In other zoning action at its Jan. 21 meeting, the council gave initial approval for the zoning of two unzoned properties on South State Street – 1643 and 1645 S. State. They are proposed to be zoned C1 (local business district). One of those properties houses Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky.
In another item related to South State Street property, the council approved with no discussion a $25,550 contract with Atwell LLC for environmental site assessment services to evaluate 2500 S. State St. That’s the Edwards Brothers Malloy property for which the council is currently exploring options to purchase. The item was added to the agenda on Friday, Jan. 17, after the initial publication of the agenda.
Delayed by the council was a six-month extension of the contract with the city’s public art administrator, Aaron Seagraves, and a proposal to add $18,500 to his compensation to cover the added term. The postponement was made amid concern about the remaining $839,507 unallocated balance in the now-defunct Percent for Art fund. The political horse-trade made at the council table was to postpone the contract extension, with the expectation that it would be supported at the council’s next meeting – but at the same time, a process would start to return the better part of the $839,507 to the various funds from which that money was drawn.
The city’s new public art program relies on the idea of integrated or “baked-in” art for capital projects. It was developed by a five-member council committee, which included all four of the councilmembers who have announced that they’re running for mayor in 2014 – Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). The fifth member of that committee was Margie Teall (Ward 4), who cast the only vote against postponing the contract extension for Seagraves – as she wanted to approve it at Tuesday’s meeting.
Also at its Jan. 21 meeting, the council approved $6,818 of general fund money to build a sidewalk from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward – to connect to a path leading the rest of the way to King Elementary School. The item, which has a history of at least four years, drew about 15 minutes of discussion.
Taking a half hour of council deliberations was another sidewalk-related item. The council approved the first of four steps in the process to impose a special assessment on property owners for a sidewalk on the east side of Pontiac Trail, between Skydale and Dhu Varren Road. Debate centered on a proposal from Kunselman to ask the city administrator to consider city funding for 80% of the project.
The council dispatched quickly two liquor-license related items: recommendation of a special downtown development liquor license for The Lunch Room at 407 N. Fifth Avenue, and a change in the classification of Silvio’s Organic Pizza license from a Tavern License to a Class C License.
Public commentary was highlighted by concerns about fracking.
Liquor licenses for two downtown Ann Arbor businesses have received a positive response from the Ann Arbor city council. The Lunch Room was recommended by the council for a special downtown development liquor license. And Silvio’s Organic Pizza was recommended for a change in classification for its existing license from a Tavern license to a Class C license.
The council’s actions came at its Jan. 21, 2014 meeting.
In more detail, the council voted to recommend that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve a special downtown development liquor license for The Lunch Room at 407 N. Fifth Avenue. That category of license was made available by the Michigan legislature in 2006 for cities that established districts where such licenses would be granted. The requirements …
Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Jan. 21, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. We think that will facilitate easier navigation from live-update material to background material already in the file.
The Ann Arbor city council’s second regular meeting in January is shifted to the Tuesday following the national holiday honoring the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Highlights of the Jan. 21 meeting agenda include three items related to development in the city – one for a specific project downtown and two others related to zoning regulations.
The council will be asked to approve the site plan for a revised, expanded version of the 624 Church St. project, located in the block just south of South University Avenue. An earlier version of the project went through the planning review process about a year ago, with city council approval coming on March 4, 2013.
The revised plan is for a 14-story, 116,167-square-foot building with 123 units and about 230 bedrooms. The apartment building would stand adjacent to and over the existing two-story restaurant at 618 Church, and would extend to the southeast corner of Willard and Church, where the building’s entrance will be located. Existing buildings at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard would be torn down. The city planning commission recommended approval of the revised plan at its Dec. 17, 2013 meeting.
Also on the Jan. 21 agenda are possible future changes to the city’s downtown zoning regulations. A public hearing on the matter will be held at the Jan. 21 meeting. Three of the recommendations relate to specific parcels: (1) Rezone the parcel located at 336 E. Ann from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface); (2) Reduce the maximum height in the East Huron 1 Character District (on the north side of Huron, between Division and State) to 120 feet. Include a tower diagonal maximum and consider a step-back requirement to reduce the shading of residential properties to the north; (3) Rezone the parcel at 425 S. Main, at the southeast corner of Main and William, from D1 (downtown core) to D2 (downtown interface) and establish a maximum height of 60 feet for D2 zoning in the Main Street Character District. Several other recommendations focus on the issue of “premiums” – certain features that a developer can provide in exchange for additional square footage.
It’s likely that amendments will be brought forward during the Jan. 21 meeting that would alter the original resolution.
But the decision on the 624 Church St. project will come long before the zoning revisions could be enacted. And the changes – recommended by the city’s planning commission at its Dec. 3, 2013 meeting – are focused on parts of downtown Ann Arbor other than the South University area. The council’s Jan. 21 resolution, if approved, would direct the planning commission to translate its recommendations into proposed ordinance language, which would require review and a public hearing. The specific ordinance language would then be recommended by the planning commission to the city council, which would make the ultimate decision. In general, the planning commission’s downtown zoning recommendations aim to create more of a buffer between downtown development and adjacent or nearby residential neighborhoods.
Also its Jan. 21 meeting, the council will be asked to give initial approval for the zoning of two unzoned properties on South State Street – 1643 and 1645 S. State. They are proposed to be zoned C1 (local business district). One of those properties houses Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky. The currently unzoned parcels – located in Ward 4 just south of Stimson and the Produce Station – are owned by Stefan Hofmann. The zoning for these parcels, which were annexed into the city from Ann Arbor township in 2011, has previously been considered by the planning commission.
In another item related to South State Street property, the council will be asked to approve a $25,550 contract with Atwell LLC for environmental site assessment services to evaluate 2500 S. State St. That’s the Edwards Brothers Malloy property for which the council is currently exploring options to purchase. The item was added to the agenda last Friday, after the initial publication of the agenda.
Also on the Jan. 21 agenda are two items related to construction of sidewalks. One resolution involves a sidewalk gap from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward – to connect to a path leading the rest of the way to King Elementary School. The council had already authorized $10,000 for the design and public process budget at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting. A small amount of that was spent. To cover the $16,000 construction cost, an additional $6,818 of general fund money is being requested at the Jan. 21 meeting. The other sidewalk item is the first of four steps in the process to impose a special assessment on property owners for a sidewalk on the east side of Pontiac Trail, between Skydale and Dhu Varren Road.
The council will also be asked to extend the contract with the city’s public art administrator, Aaron Seagraves, by six months – through June 30, 2014 – and to add $18,500 to his compensation to cover the added term. It’s a part-time position.
Another agenda item is for a recommendation that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve a special downtown development liquor license for the Lunch Room at 407 N. Fifth Avenue. The council also will be asked to approve a change in the classification of Silvio’s Organic Pizza license from a Tavern License to a Class C License, to allow for the sale of liquor in addition to beer and wine. Silvio’s is located at 715 N. University Ave.
The council’s consent agenda includes two contracts related to the sobriety court, one of the 15th District Court’s specialty courts. The consent agenda also includes street closures in connection with three events: Winter Warriors, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, and the University of Michigan Big House 5K.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Tuesday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
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.
A total of three items have been added on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 to the Ann Arbor city council’s Jan. 21, 2014 agenda since its initial publication earlier in the week.
One of the items is the approval of a $25,550 contract with Atwell LLC for environmental site assessment services to evaluate 2500 S. State St. That’s the Edwards Brothers Malloy property for which the council is currently exploring options to purchase. The University of Michigan has made an offer to Edwards Brothers to purchase the property for $12.8 million, but the city has a right of first refusal. At its Jan. 6, 2014 meeting, the council directed the city administrator and the city attorney to explore options and …
Opening day at The Lunch Room, formerly of Mark’s Carts – lots of lunchers happily munching.