Draft Park Resolution Language Reviewed

At the Ann Arbor city council’s July 2, 2012 meeting, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) told her colleagues that she would eventually propose a council resolution that would place a question on the Nov. 6 ballot about the sale, leasing and other long-term agreements involving city-owned parkland.

The Ann Arbor city attorney’s office has now forwarded the proposed charter and ballot language to the state attorney general’s office for informal review.

The question that voters may be asked to decide involves extending the current prohibition of a parkland sale without a voter referendum to cover leases or other contracts that have a practical effect similar to a sale. Lumm had previously indicated she expected to bring forward the resolution at the council’s July 16 meeting, and the forwarding of the draft language for the attorney general’s review is consistent with that timeframe.

If approved by a seven-member (2/3) majority on the 11-member council, the current draft of the question to be placed on the ballot would read: “Shall Section 14.3(b) of the Ann Arbor city charter be amended to require voter approval for long-term (greater than 5 yrs) non-park or non-recreational uses of parkland within the city while retaining the section’s current requirement for voter approval of the sale of any city park, or land acquired by the city for a park or cemetery?”

The current draft of the city charter amendment associated with that ballot question would read [added language in italics]: ”The city shall not sell, lease, or contract for any non-park or non-recreational long-term use, without the approval, by a majority vote of the electors of the city voting on the question at a regular or special election, any city park, or land in the city acquired for park, cemetery, or any part thereof. For purposes of this subsection long-term shall be defined as a period greater than 5 years.”  [.pdf draft resolution for July 16, 2012 council meeting]

A charter amendment passed in 2008 had added the section on the sale of parkland. At that time, there was concern over possible sale of Huron Hills golf course. The current concern is over the possibility of using a portion of Fuller Park as a train station. The portion of the park in question currently functions as a surface parking lot.