At least two topics on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda could offer potential points of friction: (1) leftover controversy from the confirmation of Al McWilliams to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority at the council’s previous meeting on Sept. 16; and (2) adoption of an update to the city’s solid waste plan.
The sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.
A resolution added to the agenda on Friday, Oct. 4 would, if approved, result in the waiver of attorney-client privilege with respect to a specific advice memo that has already been written by the city attorney’s office on the McWilliams appointment.
The memo responds to questions that were raised about the procedure used to appoint McWilliams to the DDA board. Mayor John Hieftje had asked the council to vote on McWilliams’ appointment after saying at a previous meeting that he was withdrawing the nomination. Under the council’s rules, an 8-vote majority is required for confirmation of an appointment when the nomination is made at the same meeting when the confirmation vote is taken. McWilliams was confirmed on a 6-5 vote.
It’s also possible that a motion could be put forward to reconsider McWilliams’ confirmation, in order to eliminate the procedural controversy. However, by the end of the weekend before the meeting, no such item had been added to the agenda.
The council will also be asked to adopt an update to its solid waste plan. [Waste Less: City of Ann Arbor Solid Waste Resource Plan] [Appendices to Waste Less] The update proposes a number of initiatives, including goals for increased recycling/diversion rates – both generally and for apartment buildings in particular. A pilot program would add all plate scrapings to the list of materials that can be placed in the brown carts used to collect compostable matter.
And if that pilot program is successful, the plan calls for exploring the possibility of reducing the frequency of curbside pickup – from the current weekly regime to a less frequent schedule. Also included in the draft plan is a proposal to relocate and upgrade the drop-off station at Platt and Ellsworth. The implementation of a fee for single-use bags at retail outlets is also part of the plan. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Waste as Resource: Ann Arbor's Five-Year Plan."]
The solid waste plan update could face opposition from some councilmembers who don’t think it would be feasible or desirable to reduce the frequency of curbside trash pickup to once every two weeks.
The council will be asked to give initial consideration to a new definition of a sidewalk, covering so-called cross-lot walkways. Such walkways aren’t really on the “side” of anything. They connect a street to a park or school, or two parallel streets. The item had been up for final consideration at the council’s July 1, 2013 meeting, but it was postponed until Oct. 7.
In the meantime, the city’s approach to the cross-lot walkways has changed. Currently if an existing walkway meets the definition of a “sidewalk,” then the city bears responsibility for its repair for the duration of the sidewalk repair millage. All other things being equal, the adjacent property owner would be responsible for snow removal in the winter. The new approach, to be considered on Oct. 7, would allow the cross-lot walkways to qualify as sidewalks under the city’s ordinance, but not trigger a winter maintenance requirement for adjacent property owners. This fresh look would mean that any action taken on Oct. 7 would be considered only an initial approval of the ordinance change.
Land use is on the agenda in the form of two developments and one annexation.
Returning to the council’s agenda is the planned unit development (PUD) zoning for the Shell/Tim Hortons at the northeast corner of Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Eisenhower Parkway. The proposal for the 1.44-acre site would allow for a drive-thru restaurant within the existing convenience store, where a Tim Hortons is already located. The project includes constructing a 109-square-foot drive-thru window addition and access driveway on the north side of the building.
The council had given initial approval for changes to the project’s PUD supplemental regulations at its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting. That’s when Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) objected to including the drive-thru as a public benefit in the regulations: “To say that somebody now doesn’t have to spend the 10 extra calories between getting out of their car to get their salt-sugar-fat fix?! I don’t see that as a public benefit and I don’t want us to list that as some big thing that we’re modifying our zoning for in our ordinance.” On that occasion, the council modified the PUD regulations to accommodate his objection. The final approval of the PUD zoning as well as the site plan is on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda.
Councilmembers will also be asked to approve a site plan for Belle Tire on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent to and east of a different Tim Hortons – one that’s located near the intersection with South State. The currently vacant 1-acre site will become a one-story, 9,735-square-foot auto service facility with 49 parking spaces, including 10 spaces located in service bays.
The council will also be asked to vote on a standard annexation from Ann Arbor Township to the city of Ann Arbor – a 0.39-acre site at 2640 Miller Ave.
Also on the Oct. 7 agenda is an item to approve a change to fees associated with liquor licenses. Some fees are being eliminated – those related to licenses for which the state of Michigan doesn’t require local review.
Other Oct. 7 agenda highlights include an allocation for more traffic calming studies and a resolution that would direct the city administrator to apply for a Rockefeller Foundation grant to make Ann Arbor one of 100 Resilient Cities.
More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings 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 fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. [Full Story]