UM, Ann Arbor: No Agreement on ROW Issue

Ann Arbor city council action taken on May 13, 2013 at a meeting that had started on May 6 has failed to grant a right-of-way occupancy for the University of Michigan to install conduits in Tappan Street. The purpose of the conduits under Tappan Street is to connect a new emergency generator to the Lawyers Club buildings at 551 S. State Street. The Lawyers Club and the generator are located on opposite sides of the street.

The item was treated as if it required an 8-vote majority – that is, as if it conveyed an interest in land. But Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), and Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) voted against it. Because Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) left the meeting early, the item had only seven votes in support.

According to the staff memo accompanying the agreement, it could have broader implications – because the agreement on the Tappan Street conduit could serve as a template for long-term occupancy agreements. The city and the university legal staff appeared to have reached an understanding on how to disagree about the significance of the agreement. According to the memo:

The University has insisted that each occupancy agreement be processed as if the document grants to the University an interest in land, even if it doesn’t. The City does not believe that the occupancy agreement grants to the University any interest in land. As drafted, it grants to the University an interest in land only to the extent it grants to the University, by its terms, an interest in land.

Nevertheless, in accordance with the University’s request, but without agreeing that the agreement grants an interest in land, the document was submitted to City Council for approval with a requirement of 8 votes as if it granted an interest in land.

But because the council failed to give the agrement an eight-vote majority vote, the resolution did not pass.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]