DDA-Led Development Stalls Again

At its March 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council again delayed action on a resolution that would have authorized the city’s downtown development authority to create a parcel-by-parcel plan for the development of downtown city-owned surface parking lots. The council had also considered but postponed a vote on the proposal at its Jan. 18, 2011 meeting. Objections at that meeting to the proposal included “resolved” clauses in the resolution that would (1) require placement of items on the city council’s agenda; and (2) under some circumstances require the city to reimburse the DDA for its expenses.

The postponement at the March 7 meeting was accomplished on a 10-1 vote, with Sandi Smith (Ward 1) casting the dissenting vote. Smith also serves on the DDA board. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) noted that the DDA appeared to be interested in creating a contractual, binding relationship – instead of working based on city council and DDA board resolutions – and in light of that he wanted to postpone the issue until the council’s first meeting in April.

The two “mutually beneficial” committees of the city council and the DDA board met for the first time since the council’s Jan. 18 meeting on the morning of March 7, providing little lead time for the discussion by the whole council of the latest proposal. The committees are negotiating a revision to the contract under which the DDA manages the city’s public parking system, as well as a framework under which the DDA would lead the redevelopment of city-owned downtown surface parking lots.

At its Jan. 5 board meeting, the Ann Arbor DDA had passed a resolution urging passage of the council resolution, which had been circulated as early as the city council’s Dec. 20, 2010 meeting, when Taylor attached a copy of the the draft resolution to the council’s meeting agenda, and alerted his council colleagues to it at that meeting.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link]