Meeting Watch: Pre-Council Caucus (21 Sept 2008)

Four councilmembers (Sabra Briere, Stephen Rapundalo, Mike Anglin, Marcia Higgins) heard from interested parties on four different topics: the sidewalk repair program, the 133 Hill St. site plan, the merger between Avalon Housing and Washtenaw Affordable Housing Commission, and City Place.

  1. Sidewalk Repair Program: Residents along Second Street reported a variety of problems with adequate notification – including invoices sent from the city after work had been completed, work begun by the city without adequate notification, and lack of adequate marking. Under the rules of the program, property owners are supposed to make arrangements with private contractors to complete the work, with the city only undertaking the work when a property owner does not comply. During a period of low activity for the sidewalk program, council suspended it temporarily between November 2007 and March 2008 so that an ad hoc council committee could implement a clearer set of communication guidelines. Problems along Second Street this year could be remnants of ineffective communication beginning last year.
  2. 133 Hill St.: Council heard from Dan Williams and Scott Munzel, who described a project at 133 Hill St., which would entail taking down the existing structure and constructing a three-unit (6 bedrooms per unit) building with a market as a student rental. They are hoping for site plan approval Monday night in order to meet leasing and construction schedule goals. Staff recommendation was for approval, with planning commission voting 3-2 for the project, which still counts as a rejection. Williams and Munzel highlighted the planned LEED certification and the copious amounts of bicycle parking, including some covered bicycle storage that would be afforded the 18 residents through ground-floor storage units accessible from outside.
  3. Washtenaw Affordable Housing Corp. and Avalon Housing Inc. Merger: Michael Appel of Avalon previewed for councilmembers the request for $295,000 in initial funding from the Ann Arbor Housing Trust Fund to support the merger of AHI and WAHC. The total budget for roughly a year’s worth of merger-related activity comes to almost $600,000, but as Appel stressed, the city of Ann Arbor would not be Avalon’s only partner. Among other things, the money would pay the hiring of a merger manager and a construction manager, along with various attorney and accounting fees.
  4. City Place PUD: Council heard from Alex de Parry that he intends eventually to submit to council the City Place PUD (along Fifth Avenue south of William Street), which was rejected by planning commission. The preview included a map of Ann Arbor, from which had been subtracted the historic districts, Allen Creek corridor, UM buildings, city property, county property, sororities and fraternities, churches, as well as other large buildings like Ashley Mews. The area where greater density could be achieved was leftover: a thin white smile in one corner of which the City Place project is nestled. Councilmember Briere distilled the discussion to a single question: “What exactly makes it a PUD?” Otherwise put: Where does the project need variances from the existing R4C zoning. Answer: It’s a little too tall (but still not taller than the trees); a little too dense (20 bedrooms more), and is missing some setbacks in the rear and on one side. City Place is not on the agenda for this evening’s (Sept. 22) meeting, but council received an early preview at the request of specific councilmembers.

One Comment

  1. By Barbara Murphy
    September 22, 2008 at 12:22 pm | permalink

    Hi. I really appreciate your coverage of the Dem Caucus (and everything else!)

    One small nit-pick please. The phrase: invoices sent from the city after work had been completed”

    should really be “invoices sent by the city that were due the next day”

    Keep up the good work