The Ann Arbor city council’s May 6, 2013 meeting agenda includes significant unfinished business – postponed from its meeting on April 15. Live updates on action taken at the May 6 meeting will be included in this article “below the fold.”
The April 15 meeting had lasted until 3 a.m. before the council decided to postpone all remaining items on its agenda until May 6. Two controversial issues left unfinished from April 15 – 413 E. Huron’s site plan and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority ordinance – could themselves potentially take up enough time to extend the May 6 meeting into the early morning hours.
In addition to a significant amount of new business on the council’s agenda, the May 6 docket includes a total of eight public hearings, including one on the fiscal year 2014 budget. The council will need to make any amendments to the city administrator’s proposed budget by the end of its May 20 meeting.
Based on discussion by councilmembers after their special workshop held on April 29, and subsequent follow-up by The Chronicle, the council has a contingency plan for the May 6 meeting. If it lasts too long, councilmembers may decide at a certain point to recess the meeting until May 13. That is, on May 13, the May 6 meeting would continue. That’s a different strategy from the one used on April 15, when the council chose to end that meeting, but postponed all remaining items until May 6.
Recessing a meeting, to be resumed at a later time, is a strategy the council last used two years ago. The council began a meeting on May 16, 2011 – when it was supposed to adopt the FY 2012 budget – but recessed the meeting until May 23, 2011. Then on May 23 councilmembers immediately recessed the meeting again, and finally ended the meeting on May 31, 2011.
Readers can follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network. But even for interested residents, the proceedings might be difficult to follow – due to their sheer length.
So in this report, we’ll be filing live time-stamped updates from the meeting. At the end of the May 6 session, these updates will provide a record of what items received council action and which (if any) were left until later.
6:45 p.m. Pre-meeting activity. Scheduled start time is 7 p.m. Roughly two dozen people are currently in the council chambers. The accordion doors have been opened to accommodate the anticipated large crowd. Typically the meeting doesn’t start until at least 7:10 p.m.
7 p.m. Scheduled start time. Around 50 people total are now here. So far only mayor John Hieftje, Margie Teall (Ward 4), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) are in council chambers.
7:12 p.m. Pledge to flag and moment of silence. Standard opening items are now concluded. Roll call of the council establishes all 11 members are present and correct.
7:16 p.m. Proclamation honoring Pioneer Global Improvement Society. Molly Cocco, Mallory Munzel, and Claire Crause Members were the honorees for their efforts to assist helping in the city parks like decorating the farmers market for the holidays. We’ve now begun public commentary reserved time. Only six of the 10 slots were reserved today.
7:31 p.m. Public commentary reserved time. Topics covered included: disability and human rights, 413 E. Huron site plan, and Palestinian rights and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. We’re now hearing communications from the council and the city administrator.
7:43 p.m. Council and city administrator communications. This communications slot is now concluded. Topics included a plug from Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) for input from the public on the plans for the Washtenaw Transportation Study (WATS). Also mentioned were anticipated revisions to the DDA ordinance proposal (which appears later on the agenda), from Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), that would earmark some of the TIF rebate for affordable housing. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) made remarks on the development process. Mayor John Hieftje and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) gave an update on their meeting earlier today with the Metro Alliance – which covered increased coordination of fire protection throughout the county. City administrator Steve Powers reminded the public of the Saturday, May 11 safety services open house to be held from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Justice Center, 301 E. Huron, next to city hall.
7:50 p.m. A public hearing on revisions to the outdoor sign ordinance. This public hearing has concluded after three people spoke. This public hearing was continued from the council’s April 1, 2013 meeting when the second reading of the ordinance was postponed until tonight. An indication it might be postponed again is the scheduling of a townhall meeting later this week.
A townhall meeting on billboards, hosted by Ward 5 councilmembers Chuck Warpehoski and Mike Anglin at Downtown Home & Garden at Ashley and Liberty streets, is scheduled to take place on May 8 starting at 7 p.m. [.pdf of town hall flyer] Most of the existing billboards in the city are located in Ward 5.
7:52 p.m. Public hearing on 413 E. Huron site plan. The public hearing is now underway. It was continued from a previous meeting.
7:57 p.m. Recess. Thomas Partridge attempted to speak at the public hearing, but he’d spoken at the same public hearing at a previous meeting. So mayor John Hieftje informed Partridge that he couldn’t speak. The meeting was recessed for a minute as the city attorney discussed the issue with Partridge. The meeting came out of recess with the next speaker, John Floyd. A highlight of Floyd’s turn was a blistering rebuke of councilmembers who did not appear to be paying attention.
8:15 p.m. Nine speakers have now addressed the council during the 413 E. Huron St. public hearing. At least seven people are standing in line to speak.
8:41 p.m. A total of 21 people have now spoken during the public hearing on 413 E. Huron. Opposition is based on a variety of points. Speakers worked together to produce a booklet, which they’re citing in turn as they speak. Issues identified include impact on landmark trees, configuration of the service drive, lack of detail on a retaining wall, logistics for student move-in week, and shading on historic properties to the north. One speaker referred to it as a “slum in the sky.” But he allowed that a benefit to the 413 E. Huron project was that city hall would no longer be the ugliest building in the city.
9:11 p.m. The public hearing on the 413 E. Huron site plan has concluded. A total of 31 people addressed the council during the hearing.
9:24 p.m. Recess. After the conclusion of the 413 E. Huron public hearing, the council recessed to take a break. The council is still in recess. People are milling about in small conversational pods. Those who brought snacks are snacking and sharing same.
9:31 p.m. Public hearing on revisions to the DDA ordinance. The council is now out of recess. The revisions to the ordinance would impose term limits for Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board members and place restrictions on elected officials serving the board. [.pdf of DDA ordinance as it appears on the council's May 6, 2013 agenda]
The ordinance revisions would also prevent an interpretation that the DDA is giving to the existing ordinance language. The existing language appears to cap the amount of tax increment financing (TIF) revenue that the DDA can receive. More background on TIF calculations in this Chronicle op-ed: “A TIF with A2Y Chamber.” [.jpg of graph showing impact on DDA planning]
10:00 p.m. DDA ordinance public hearing has concluded. A total of 11 people spoke.
10:08 p.m. Public hearing on Hideaway Lane Planned Project Site Plan. This is a proposal to build 19 single-family houses on a 4.6-acre site on Hideaway Lane off Traver Road – near the city’s Leslie Park Golf Course. The city planning commission recommended approval at its March 19, 2013 meeting. No one spoke at this public hearing.
10:09 p.m. Public hearing on fee adjustments for public services area. Background here: [public services area fee schedule] No one spoke at this public hearing.
10:10 p.m. Public hearing on fee adjustments for community services area. Background here: [community services area fee schedule] No one spoke at this public hearing.
10:11 p.m. Public hearing on fee adjustments for safety services. Background here: [safety services area fee schedule] No one spoke at this public hearing.
10:21 p.m. Public hearing on FY 2014 budget. The basic theme through the first four speakers on the FY 2014 budget is human services and affordable housing.
10:30 p.m. After seven speakers, the public hearing on the FY 2014 budget has concluded.
10:37 p.m. Communications. Another opportunity for communications from council has now concluded. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) announces a town hall meeting at Downtown Home & Garden on May 8. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) heaps praise on Water Hill Music Fest that took place yesterday, on May 5. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) asked mayor John Hieftje to clarify the mayoral appointment process. The question stems from a public hearing comment from Mark Koroi, who noted that none of the “members” of the downtown citizens advisory council have current appointments. The meeting agenda now includes a re-appointment of all those members.
Another nomination of interest on tonight’s agenda is Susan Baskett to replace Jesse Bernstein on the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. Baskett currently is a member of the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education, an elected position.
10:39 p.m. Consent agenda. Outcome: The council unanimously approved the consent agenda.
10:40 p.m. Sign ordinance. Outcome: The council voted unanimously to postpone the consideration of the second reading until June 17, 2013. [Civic News Ticker on sign ordinance]
11:01 p.m. DDA ordinance revision. Outcome: The council voted unanimously to postpone consideration of the DDA ordinance until the council’s first meeting in September – on Sept. 3, 2013. [Civic News Ticker on DDA ordinance.]
11:17 p.m. Video privacy ordinance. Coming out of recess, the council’s first item was the video privacy ordinance. Outcome: The council voted unanimously to postpone the item until May 20, 2013. [Civic News Ticker on video privacy ordinance]
11:21 p.m. Appointment of Stephanie Buttrey as a member of the greenbelt advisory commission (GAC). This had been postponed from the April 15, 2013 meeting. The council considered it a nomination. Action will take place on May 20. Outcome: The council formally postponed action until May 20.
11:22 p.m. Summit Townhomes site plan. Outcome: The council unanimously approved the site plan for Summit Townhomes on Ellsworth Road. [Civic News Ticker on Summit Townhomes]
11:24 p.m. Withdrawal of Ann Arbor’s objection to renewal of liquor license for The Arena. The Arena paid all outstanding obligations to the city on April 30, 2013. The renewal of liquor licenses is the purview of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Outcome: The council voted unanimously to withdraw its objection to the renewal of The Arena’s liquor license. [Civic News Ticker on Arena Liquor License]
11:30 p.m. Fourth Avenue street improvements. Outcome: The council voted unanimously to approve the contract.
11:31 p.m. Recess until May 13. The council will resume the May 6 meeting at 7 p.m. on May 13. The first item to be considered will be the 413 E. Huron site plan. [Details on some individual voting items can be found in The Chronicle's Civic News Ticker.
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