Two deals adding land to the city’s greenbelt program were approved by the Ann Arbor city council at its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting. The program is funded by the voter-approved open space and parkland preservation millage.
Washtenaw County commissioners took two actions related to the Washtenaw Urban County at their May 16, 2012 meeting.
Commissioners gave final approval to the Urban County’s annual plan for July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 with a $3.59 million budget. A public hearing on the plan had been held at the board’s May 2, 2012 meeting. The annual plan describes how the Urban County expects to spend the federal funding it receives from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) programs, operated by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The board also authorized Webster Township to join the Urban County. The Washtenaw Urban …
At a special meeting held on April 24, 2012, the Webster Township board of trustees voted unanimously to approve a festival permit for the Dexter Area Historical Society’s Civil Wars Days to be held this year at historic Gordon Hall on June 8-10.
Host for the re-enactor units will be the 4th Michigan Regiment, Company A, led by captain Russ Paul. Also expected at Gordon Hall for Civil War Days this year are the following units: 17th Michigan, Company E; 21st Michigan, Company H; U.S.S. Michigan Marine Guard Battery B; 1st Michigan Light Artillery; and the Confederate Bledsoe’s Battery.
The decision to grant a festival permit came after the board had turned down the permit at its previous meeting on April 17 by a 4-3 vote. The resolutions considered by the board at its two recent meetings differed in a significant way. The resolution rejected at the April 17 meeting stated that the festival would be granted “… with egress and ingress over Webster Township grounds and conservation easement with no parking on Webster Township grounds only Scio Township.”
The resolution ultimately approved by the board stepped back from trying to describe how parking on and crossing of the property would be handled, and instead simply stipulated that the DAHS had to comply with the conservation easement on the property.
Dan Ezekiel, chair of Ann Arbor’s greenbelt advisory commission, attended the April 24 meeting and addressed the township board on the commission’s behalf. Although the Gordon Hall property lies outside the Ann Arbor greenbelt boundaries, the city of Ann Arbor and Webster Township have partnered on a number of other conservation easements in their collaborative effort to preserve open space. He wanted to encourage the board to defend the easement on the Gordon Hall property and not set a precedent that violating a conservation easement is acceptable.
After the meeting, Ezekiel indicated in conversation that he was, in fact, a history buff and was hoping to attend the Civil War Days – he hoped not as a picketer.
Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (Jan. 5, 2012): At Wednesday’s GAC meeting – the first of the new year – commissioners got an update from staff on three deals in December that added more than 170 acres of protected land within the city’s greenbelt boundaries.
The properties include 32 acres in Northfield Township along US-23, 30 acres in Scio Township near Wagner and Scio Church roads, and 111 acres in Lodi Township along Pleasant Lake Road. By year’s end, the new additions brought the total of property protected by the city’s greenbelt program to 3,430 acres since its inception in 2007.
Most of Wednesday’s meeting was spent in closed session to discuss possible future land acquisitions, but the main action item involved land that’s not part of the city’s greenbelt program. Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution urging Webster Township to strictly enforce all of its conservation easements – the resolution will be forwarded to township officials as they weigh a request from the Dexter Area Historical Society to amend an easement that would loosen restrictions on parking.
The society wants permission to allow spectator parking for Civil War re-enactments on a site where the historic Gordon Hall is located. Land preservation activists are concerned that parking would damage the land, and that amending the easement would set a bad precedent, calling into question the trustworthiness of regional land preservation efforts. The resolution was brought forward by Tom Bloomer, a GAC member who also serves on Webster Township’s land preservation board.
Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (Dec. 14, 2011): The main discussion at December’s GAC meeting focused on land falling outside of Ann Arbor’s greenbelt boundaries – but with possible broader implications for all regional land preservation efforts.
The land in question, outside the greenbelt boundaries, is owned by The Dexter Area Historical Society. The society is seeking a change to the conservation easement for a parcel that includes the historic Gordon Hall – a change that would allow parking for several hundred vehicles on the land for spectators of Civil War re-enactments that the society intends to hold. Webster Township trustees will ultimately vote on the request, but the township’s land preservation board – which includes Tom Bloomer, who also serves on GAC – has recommended denying it.
Bloomer told GAC commissioners that altering the agreement in this way would set a bad precedent, and call into question the trustworthiness of regional land preservation efforts. Bloomer asked for GAC to weigh in with support for the land preservation board’s position, prior to the trustees’ vote. GAC will likely take up the issue again at its Jan. 5 meeting.
Other action at GAC’s Dec. 14 meeting included passing a resolution of appreciation for Tom Freeman, deputy director of Washtenaw County parks & recreation, who is retiring at the end of the year. GAC chair Dan Ezekiel said Freeman has been “absolutely indispensable” to land preservation efforts in the county, including deals in which Ann Arbor’s greenbelt program has participated.
Ezekiel also presented a letter to the editor that he drafted, in response to misinformation expressed by commenters on AnnArbor.com articles regarding the greenbelt boundary expansion. He plans to send the letter sometime next week, pending feedback from other commissioners. [.pdf of draft letter to the editor]
During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners also welcomed the newest commissioner, Shannon Brines, to his first meeting of GAC. Brines, who’s active in the local food movement, was appointed by the city council at its Nov. 21 meeting.