July 1, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

Land use again major theme: "sidewalk" definitions; Kerrytown Place rezoning, South State Street corridor plan, R4C committee. Also: video privacy ordinance; DDA-city committee

Land use is frequently a dominant theme of Ann Arbor city council meetings – and the July 1, 2013 meeting agenda fits that pattern.

Door to Ann Arbor city council chambers

Door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber.

The council will be giving final consideration to an ordinance change that expands the definition of “sidewalk” – to include any sidewalks the city has formally accepted for public use. The change has implications for owners of property adjacent to several “cross-lot paths” in the city – which are on the meeting agenda for acceptance for public use.

One consequence of the definition change is that those property owners will not be responsible for the repair of those paths – because the paths will be eligible for sidewalk millage repair funds. But the adjacent property owners would become responsible for clearing snow from the paths.

Also related to land use on the meeting agenda are rezoning requests associated with two proposed developments. Up for an initial vote is the rezoning from PUD (planned unit development) to D2 (downtown interface) for the parcels on North Main and Fourth Avenue where Kerrytown Place is planned. The 18-unit townhouse development is much smaller than The Gallery, for which the PUD zoning had originally been approved.

Also up for initial consideration is a rezoning request for 2271 S. State St., where the owner would like to be able to sell automobiles. The planning commission recommended denial of that request, in part because that land use was not felt to be consistent with the draft South State Street corridor plan. At its July 1 meeting, the council will also be asked to adopt that corridor plan.

The re-establishment of a citizens advisory committee on changes to R4C zoning in the city also appears on the meeting agenda. The origins of that committee date back to 2009. The reconstitution of the 12-member committee comes as the planning commission has recommended changes to R4C zoning that the council will be weighing – to decide if ordinance language should be drafted to reflect those changes.

Another committee with its origins in 2009 is set to be reconstituted at the council’s July 1 meeting, but it’s not related to land use. The council will be asked to re-establish a “mutually beneficial” committee to work through recommendations to changes in the city ordinance that regulates the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance (TIF) capture. The council has already given initial approval to some ordinance changes. Committee members will be working with their DDA counterparts with a two-month window of time – because the council has postponed final action on DDA ordinance changes until Sept. 3.

The council will also be asked to take an initial vote on a video privacy ordinance, having postponed that initial vote several times previously.

And finally, Ward 2 will not have a city council primary election a month from now, but it appears on the agenda in connection with polling places. The Precinct 2-8 polling location will be changed for all future elections to the First United Methodist Church on Green Road.

Details of other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.

The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

6:55 p.m. Pre-meeting activity. The scheduled meeting start is 7 p.m. Most evenings the actual starting time is between 7:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Currently in chambers are mayor John Hieftje, city administrator Steve Powers, city attorney Stephen Postema. Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) has just arrived. Audience is a bit sparse so far. Less than a dozen people are here.

7:06 p.m. Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2) are the only councilmembers not yet here. Petersen will definitely not be here. Advocates for the video privacy ordinance have arrived. About a dozen or so. They barely outnumber the large box of Washtenaw Dairy donuts they’ve brought to share. “This is not going to be good for my beach body this summer, but it’s delightful for my tastebuds.”

7:07 p.m. Pledge of allegiance, moment of silence and the roll call of council. Petersen and Teall are absent. We’re under way.

7:07 p.m. Public commentary. This portion of the meeting offers 10 three-minute slots that can be reserved in advance. Preference is given to speakers who want to address the council on an agenda item. [Public commentary general time, with no sign-up required in advance, is offered at the end of the meeting.]

A pending rule change to be considered at tonight’s meeting would limit speaking time to two minutes. Another pending rule change would address “frequent flyers,” by only allowing people to reserve time at the start of the meeting, if they did not speak during reserved time at the previous council meeting. Only six of the 10 slots have been reserved tonight.

Three people are signed up to talk about the council rules changes on the agenda tonight: James D’Amour, Michael Benson and Thomas Partridge. Partridge is also signed up to talk about the video privacy ordinance, as are three other people: Will Leaf, Leslie Stambaugh and Kent Weichmann. Stambaugh is chair of the city’s human rights commission. The video privacy ordinance is up for its initial consideration after having been postponed several times. The ordinance would restrict the ability of local law enforcement officials set up un-staffed cameras for public surveillance.

7:11 p.m. James D’Amour is up first. [As former city planning commissioner, D'Amour has some experience with public commentary from the other side of the microphone.] Some of the changes, he says, are pretty good. The addition of a public commentary period during work sessions is a good step, he says. But the time reductions are a step backward, he says. If hundreds of people show up to speak, then the council has done something wrong. The game they need to play is to be more accessible, not less accessible, he says. There’s been a change in the dynamic of local politics, and it’s less collegial, he says.

7:14 p.m. Thomas Partridge reminds the council that he has run for election to the state legislature in the past. He accuses Hieftje of seeking to suppress public access to the council. Instead of diminishing public participation time, it should be increased, he says.

7:17 p.m. Will Leaf is now addressing the council on the video privacy ordinance. [His involvement with the topic dates back several years. He led Students Against Surveillance at the University of Michigan.] He rejects the idea that the ordinance would tie the hands of the police. Leaf is citing news media articles on the topic. They include a June 19, 2013 LA Times article about Muslims suing the New York City Police Department over surveillance of congregants at mosques that has included video surveillance.

Leaf is also citing a Oct. 25, 2010 article in The Guardian about the dismantling of video surveillance cameras in Birmingham, England, and a Jan. 13, 2006 BBC News article about CCTV camera operators who pointed cameras into a woman’s apartment and observed her in a state of undress. Leaf says that if public surveillance cameras are installed, then they should be regulated. He points out that the ordinance wouldn’t affect any cameras currently in place. He gets a round of applause from the now roughly two dozen people who are here in support of the ordinance.

7:20 p.m. Leslie Stambaugh agrees with Leaf. She points out that the ordinance originated with a citizens group. Why can’t we just trust the police to adopt this practice when they need it? she asks. It seems modern and effective. But video surveillance hasn’t been shown to reduce or solve crime, she contends. For nuisance crimes, she allows it might have some benefit. Lansing installed 11 cameras, which wound up costing $2.3 million. The human rights commission didn’t like the ordinance surveillance she said, and the ACLU doesn’t like it. If the city wants to use video cameras for surveillance, it needs to be regulated, she says.

7:24 p.m. Michael Benson is now addressing the council on the topic of council rules. He points out that if he had a handout for the clerk, that would be attached to the minutes. He encourages the council to advertise that fact. He suggests that the council pay attention to their own question time as well. He suggests a way of addressing the problem of an agenda item clogging up the reserved commentary time.

7:25 p.m. Kent Weichmann weighs in for the video privacy ordinance. Benson had weighed in against it at the conclusion of his remarks.

7:25 p.m. Council communications. This is the first of three slots on the agenda for council communications. It’s a time when councilmembers can report out from boards, commissions and task forces on which they serve. They can also alert their colleagues to proposals they might be bringing forward in the near future.

7:31 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) says he wants the dialogue on safe streets to continue. People who live on all kinds of streets should be listened to, he says. He wants traffic directed away from residential streets that are not designed for that kind of traffic.

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) reminds the public about the July 2 public art forum on the East Stadium bridges project.

Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicates that the D1 zoning review will begin tomorrow. There will be two larger public meetings as well as smaller meetings. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) asks if a schedule has been established for the review and how it will be implemented. The executive committee of the planning commission will be interviewing potential consultants, Briere explains. Staff and commission members are felt to be too close to the process to lead a public meeting. So someone with an outside view will be used, Briere says. There’ll be A2 Open City Hall surveys or perhaps also Survey Monkey surveys. The consultant will look at those issues and move to have a public meeting in August. Briere notes that the timeline requires the work to be done at the end of September. How it relates to the Y lot, she says, she’s not sure – in response to a question from Lumm.

7:33 p.m. City administrator Steve Powers asks CFO Tom Crawford to explain what happened with the city’s website. Crawford says it was a software/hardware failure. He believes all the data is there, and will be back up by 8 a.m. on July 2. Powers gives the usual updates associated with national holidays with respect to trash pickup and the like.

7:34 p.m. Public hearings. All the public hearings are grouped together during this section of the meeting. Action on the related items comes later in the meeting. Three public hearings are on the agenda. The first hearing is on an ordinance change that will change the definition of sidewalk in the city. The second would adopt the 2009 International Fire Code as part of the city’s ordinances. And the third public hearing is on the South State Street corridor plan, which is proposed to be adopted into the city’s master plan.

7:39 p.m. PH: Sidewalks. A resident who lives next to one of the cross-lot paths addresses the council. He says they’re used by a limited number of people. He doesn’t think it’s fair to assign the responsibility for winter maintenance to those who live next to the paths. He urges the council to postpone the resolution accepting the cross-lot paths for public use.

A resident who uses a wheelchair is the next speaker. He wants to talk about a letter from the city that says he’s responsible for maintenance of a path. He says he doesn’t own that property. Every year for 47 years the city has cut the grass and maintained it. His property has a timber wall on the edge of it. The sidewalk is not for a general good, but for the entrance to a park. What the city is trying to do is shift the liability to him by calling it a sidewalk when it’s not a sidewalk. The city can’t impose an insurance liability on him for property he doesn’t own, he says. He doesn’t want to make his responsibility dependent on the passage of a millage every five years.

7:44 p.m. A resident who lives next to the walkway near Scarlett-Mitchell public schools objects to the idea that she’ll be made liable for maintenance. There’s no reason for her and her husband to take over maintenance, given that the school district is currently maintaining it. The ordinance is the easy way to go. She suggests that where there is someone already maintaining and snowplowing the path, that person or entity should be made responsible. She would not be able to shovel all the snow, she says.

A fourth resident wonders how a request for a sidewalk ordinance change comes about. There are another 28 paths beyond the 33 cross-lot paths, described in the staff memo, he points out. So the council would only be acting on half of the paths.

7:47 p.m. Thomas Partridge advocates for fairness and rejects the use of Republican Tea Party tactics in determining fees. Many residents of the county and the state are being driven out of their homes due to the unfairness of flat-rate taxes and fees, he contends, including sidewalk repair assessments.

7:51 p.m. PH: Fire Code. Thomas Partridge rises to speak to this issue. He says that councilmembers and the mayor are out of touch. He says that the councilmembers who sponsored the ordinance change should explain it in their own words. He contends that the city looks for ways to impose costs on those who can least afford it. No one else speaks at this public hearing.

7:54 p.m. PH: State Street Corridor. Local attorney Scott Munzel addresses the council on the topic of the hearing. He’s representing the property owner of 2271 S. State St., which is seeking a rezoning of the parcel to allow for automobile sales. [At its May 21, 2013 meeting, the city's planning commission had voted against a recommendation of rezoning.] Munzel points out that the proposed rezoning was consistent with the master plan, before the South State Street corridor plan was put forward. He asks the council to remember this when the council hears the rezoning request.

7:55 p.m. Council communications. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) clarifies where Pilar’s Tamales is located – in Ward 5. [The business is located at 2261 W. Liberty St.] Munzel had mentioned Pilar’s in the context of the 2271 S. State St. property. Pilar’s was formerly located there.

7:59 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) says she’s going to say something nice about everyone, without there being any reason. Mike Anglin is praised for his ability to mobilize people. Jane Lumm, Christopher Taylor, and Stephen Kunselman are praised in turn. Chuck Warpehoski listens to people in a way that improves council discussion, Briere says. Marcia Higgins is described as deceptively quiet. Mayor John Hieftje is also deceptive, she says – in the way that leaders can be. His knowledge provides balance. Sally Petersen is practical and pragmatic. Margie Teall’s commitment to social justice affects everything she does, Briere says.

8:00 p.m. Lumm is thanking Briere for her remarks.

8:02 p.m. Police chief John Seto is explaining how a July 16 meeting for property owners on fire inspections will work.

8:02 p.m. Minutes and consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda includes a contract with Tanner Industries Inc. for purchase of anhydrous ammonia, which is used in the city’s drinking water treatment process. About 25 tons of anhydrous ammonia is used per year and Tanner will provide it at $1,540 per ton for a total cost next year of $38,500.

The consent agenda also includes an item to amend the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) exemption for the proposed Burton Commons affordable housing development. Instead of taxes, the developer would pay the city $1. The number of units would stay the same at 80. But the council’s action would approve a new development partner, Highridge Costa Housing Partners (HCHP), and change the mix of units. Previously some units had been set aside for supportive housing services, but now they will all be targeted for people with incomes at 30-60% of the area median income (AMI).

8:02 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Kunselman pulls out the PILOT for Burton Commons for separate discussion.

8:06 p.m. Kunselman wonders what the status of the project is. Brett Lenart comes to the podium. He’s with the Washtenaw County office of community and economic development development. He describes how the project was originally conceived as a 120-unit project with permanent supportive housing. But it was reconceived at a smaller scale – 80 units. And now there is no supportive housing component. Planning manager Wendy Rampson clarifies that building permits need to be pulled before the end of the extension of a site plan, at the end of the year. But there’s no limit to the number of administrative extensions that can be granted, Rampson explains.

8:07 p.m. Outcome: The council has now approved the consent agenda.

8:07 p.m. Ordinance: Sidewalk definition. The council gave initial approval to this definition change at its June 3, 2013 meeting. The new definition of “sidewalk” would expand the existing definition to include non-motorized paths that are [emphasis added] “designed particularly for pedestrian, bicycle, or other nonmotorized travel and that is constructed (1) in the public right of way or (2) within or upon an easement or strip of land taken or accepted by the city or dedicated to and accepted by the city for public use by pedestrians, bicycles, or other nonmotorized travel, …”

A resolution later on the agenda would accept 33 cross-lot pathways for public use. The impact of the definition change would make the paths eligible to be repaired by the city using sidewalk millage funds. However, adjoining property owners would be responsible for winter snow clearing. Here’s some examples of cross-lot sidewalks near Dicken Elementary School:

Example of cross-lot sidewalk in Ann Arbor

Example of cross-lot sidewalk in Ann Arbor.

[.pdf of maps for all 33 cross-lot sidewalks]

8:13 p.m. Kunselman leads off by saying that he’ll vote against it. It’s not a fair way to approach the topic. If the city has been maintaining a path for 47 years, he wondered why it would stop. If a school is currently maintaining a path, then arrangements should be made to continue that. He’s voting against it.

8:14 p.m. Briere, who sponsored the ordinance change, asks assistant city attorney Abigail Elias and public services area administrator Craig Hupy to the podium. Briere says that in her own research she’d learned it wasn’t clear who owns the property. Elias says the language is different in each of the plats. Responding to Briere, Elias doesn’t answer the question of whether the ordinance change would give the city an easement or title to the land. Elias says the ordinance would give “access.” Elias hasn’t looked at the issue of who the property belongs to.

Responding to Briere, Hupy says that if the ordinance doesn’t go forward, then the city doesn’t believe it can use sidewalk millage money to repair these cross-lot paths.

8:17 p.m. Briere asks Hupy if the city thinks it’s appropriate to place the burden for winter maintenance on adjacent property owners. Hupy says the schools were not interested in making the capital improvements. Some of the winter maintenance that the schools are doing, he says, is actually done out of convenience to the school – to find a good place to turn around, for example. The burden of winter maintenance, Hupy says, is the collateral damage associated with the city’s use of sidewalk millage funds for the capital repairs. Briere says her problem is with the redefinition of who’s responsible for the winter maintenance.

8:21 p.m. Higgins ventures that these paths could be defined as a subset of “sidewalks.” She floats the idea of postponing the ordinance. Warpehoski notes that many councilmembers have a desire to use the sidewalk millage to repair the paths. But he says there’s another problem in that non-motorized connections have been lost because there’s not a mechanism for accepting them for public use. He’s inclined to support the ordinance change, because it puts a mechanism in place to accept a path into public use. But that doesn’t mean that the council has to accept all 33 of the paths for public use. It might be a much smaller set, he says.

8:24 p.m. Lumm notes that not all 33 paths were found to be in current need of repair. Hupy indicates that last year there were four paths in dire need of repair that were not done, because they were not accepted for public use. Lumm doesn’t like the “no-man’s land” aspect of the situation. She sees it as a positive that the millage funds could be used. But the winter maintenance is a problem.

8:32 p.m. Lumm says that she agrees with one of the public hearing speakers, who said that if there’s to be a transfer of responsibility for the maintenance, then the land transfer should be done in a way that is “favorable” to the property owner. Lumm elicits from Elias the fact that under some circumstances, an owner of property adjoining a path could be required to mow grass in the summer, as well as clear snow in the winter.

Anglin says that the 33 paths should be looked at individually and judged on an individual basis. Hupy ventures that schools might be reluctant to participate – because they’re barred by state law from making investments in property off of land that they own.

8:41 p.m. Taylor summarizes the situation. He follows up on a possibility raised by Higgins: Can we find a way to use the sidewalk millage without causing the burden of day-to-day upkeep to shift? Elias traces the issue to the definition of “sidewalk.” Taylor floats the idea of tabling or delaying in some other way.

Lumm moves to postpone until the first meeting in October. Warpehoski asks how a postponement would affect the sidewalks that are in dire need of repair. Hupy says they wouldn’t get repaired this year. Hieftje ventures that if the city has muddled along all this time, three months wouldn’t hurt. Kunselman moots the idea of not using sidewalk millage funds to do the repair. He gives an example of a path that was repaired with park maintenance millage funds. He says if the city asked for the public paths in the first place, then the city should maintain them. Kunselman ventures that it might be necessary to research the history of the platting.

8:42 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to postpone the change in the definition of sidewalks until its first meeting in October.

8:42 p.m. Ordinance: International Fire Code Adoption. The council gave this ordinance change initial approval at its June 17, 2013 meeting. While the change is essentially administrative – changing the version of the International Fire Code adopted in the ordinance from 2003 to a more recent 2009 – some councilmembers on June 17 indicated an interest in exploring the question of frequency of fire inspections. They’ve heard complaints that fire inspections are being conducted too frequently – as a way to generate revenue.

On June 17, fire chief Chuck Hubbard indicated that some of the confusion could be attributed to re-inspections, which are done when a deficiency is found. Hubbard indicated on June 17 that fire inspections have increased. He’s increased the number of personnel assigned to fire inspections from three to seven.

Ann Arbor Fire Inspections

Ann Arbor fire inspections: 2006-2012. (Data is from city financial records. Chart by The Chronicle.)

8:42 p.m. Lumm thanks staff for their work in responding to questions.

8:42 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to adopt the 2009 International Fire Code.

8:43 p.m. Recess. The council is now in recess.

8:55 p.m. The council is back from recess.

8:56 p.m. Ordinance: Video Privacy. This ordinance still hasn’t received an initial approval, as the council has delayed voting several times. It sets forth various conditions for the placement of public surveillance cameras. The most recent postponement came at the council’s June 17, 2013 meeting. The council seemed willing to postpone a vote on that occasion based on the fact that police chief John Seto was not available to answer questions about the impact on law enforcement activities. Some councilmembers indicated at that meeting a reluctance even to give the ordinance an initial approval.

9:01 p.m. Police chief John Seto is addressing the council from the podium. He’s reviewed many versions of the ordinance. He thanks everyone for their work. As chief, his responsibility is to provide service and protection for all. He says he wouldn’t apply technology that has negative implications for communications. He can’t predict the security concerns and policing needs of the future. Large crowds themselves create an added risk. He can’t support an ordinance that would limit his ability to monitor large crowds like those associated with the Ann Arbor marathon. To be able to use live monitoring only when there’s an imminent risk would be limiting, he says. Because he can’t know the policing needs of the future, there could be unintended consequences.

9:08 p.m. Anglin asks Seto if he sees the ordinance as limiting what’s been done in the past. Seto said that he can’t recall a case where that’s been done. Kunselman asks if Seto is familiar with the West Willow neighborhood. Seto wasn’t able to provide definitive information.

Warpehoski ventured that former police chief Barnett Jones felt that video surveillance would never be accepted in this community. He asks if Seto felt that the ordinance would give him the regulatory framework that would allow the community concerns to be addressed. Briere says one of her concerns about crowd surveillance was that almost all of the footage that was useful in the Boston marathon bombing was from private cameras. She appreciated that the human rights commission, Warpehoski and Anglin had tried to find a balance. But she wondered if the balance had actually been found. Seto said he’s not advocating the use of cameras, but felt that if the need does arise, he wants to make sure that there’s flexibility.

9:11 p.m. Kunselman refers to the comments made during the public commentary about the possibilty of police misconduct in the use of cameras. Seto says that the in-car video cameras already used by officers are subject to departmental policies. Hieftje cites a memo written by Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, about the use of cameras in parking structures. Hieftje cites the issue of the perception of safety – saying that some people say they’d feel more comfortable in an underground parking garage if there was video surveillance.

9:19 p.m. Hieftje said that back in 2001-02 there were problems in Liberty Plaza, and the city had filmed from the building overlooking the park. Those cameras were hand-held, Hieftje said. Hieftje wanted to know if Seto felt that the ordinance would inhibit his ability to undertake necessary operations.

Kailasapathy wondered if the required sign stating the presence of a camera would undermine the point of the surveillance. For short-term use, Seto said, the sign would have an impact. Lumm discusses with Seto the requirements for installation of cameras. Lumm recounts how all the windows of her car were smashed in the Fourth & Washington parking structure, but there were no cameras in place to capture any footage.

Taylor says that this ordinance might be “a regulation too far.” But he notes that the chief’s job description was similar to the council’s job: Law enforcement should be consistent with community values. So he felt it should be voted forward to a second reading, which would provide an opportunity for a public hearing.

9:24 p.m. Kailasapathy ventures that the FBI would not have to adhere to the local ordinance, if the FBI wanted to conduct surveillance. Higgins brings up University of Michigan football games. She says that crowds are monitored for football games. Seto says that on a liberal interpretation, it might have an impact on his ability to use cameras for football crowd monitoring. But UM would be able to continue to do that, Seto says.

Kunselman inquires what the law is when a camera catches someone doing something illegal on their own property – if they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. City attorney Stephen Postema says he has not researched the issue. Higgins ventures that if the city has been working on the ordinance for a long time, then surely the city has an understanding of what privacy in a home means.

9:28 p.m. Kailasapathy asks if it’s OK for a camera to be trained on a front door to monitor who is entering and leaving a residence. Postema says it depends on what is done with the footage. Briere brings up Google Street View cameras and how it blurs images of people’s faces. Briere agrees with Taylor that there should be a discussion in the community. Passive surveillance can be used well or not well, Briere says, adding that she wished it weren’t used at all.

9:36 p.m. Warpehoski says that placing a camera on a pole and pointing it into a neighborhood is an affront to privacy and the ordinance would prevent that affront. The ordinance tries to find a balance between privacy, property owner rights and law enforcement needs. He doesn’t want cameras to be put in over neighborhood opposition. Warpehoski says he put forward the best ordinance he knew how to put forward, but allowed that there were still things that could be worked on. He asks for support at first reading, but tells his colleagues not to vote for it on first reading just to please him – if they were definitely not going to vote for it on second reading.

Anglin says the ordinance is preemptive, and that the ordinance allows cameras to be installed as useful tools. He gives destruction of property in parks as a use case for the cameras. He doesn’t think it’s a solution looking for a problem, he says – a response to remarks from Kunselman at an earlier meeting.

Kunselman responds to the idea of a “regulatory framework” and wonders why the council is not providing guidance on policy to the administration. Ordinances are passed to regulate behavior, and there are punishments for violating them. He wondered if Seto violated the ordinance, would he be fired? Kunselman said he would support giving policy direction. In any case, the city can do what it needs to do, he says. If Seto needs to use a camera to catch a suspect, Kunselman says, then, “By golly, let him do it!”

9:47 p.m. Kunselman describes how the relationship between the police and young people has changed from the time when he was young. He returns to his idea of giving guidance through policy. Lumm says that it’s overly regulatory. The balanced approach that Seto would take would not result in the application of technology that would harm the community, Lumm says. She says she wouldn’t support such an ordinance unless it had Seto’s unequivocal support. So Lumm won’t support it at first reading.

Briere said generally she’s inclined to advance an ordinance to a second reading. She doesn’t like the ordinance, because she sees it as giving permission for surveillance. She distinguishes between speculative surveillance versus a situation where there’s a targeted deployment. But she’s still inclined to hear from the public. That will help the council make better decisions.

Hieftje says he likes the idea of a policy – alluding to Kunselman’s proposal that policy guidance would be better than an ordinance. Hieftje noted that Ann Arbor is host to events that have the spotlight of the nation on the city. He couldn’t say he’d support it at second reading, but he was willing to support it at first reading.

9:49 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted 5-4 to give the video privacy ordinance initial approval, so it failed. Voting against it were Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Lumm and Higgins.

9:49 p.m. Ordinance: Rezoning for car dealership. The council is being asked to give initial approval to a rezoning of 2271 South State Street from M1 (limited industrial district) to M1A (limited light industrial district). The owner would like to be able to sell automobiles on the site. The city planning commission’s vote on the recommendation was taken at its May 21, 2013 meeting. The vote was 1-8, with only Eric Mahler supporting it. So the planning commission’s recommendation was for denial.

9:58 p.m. Briere points out that the council in the past has put off rezoning decisions based on the pending work on the South State Street corridor plan. Planning manager Wendy Rampson responds to Higgins by giving the example of the Biercamp property, which was not approved because the South State Street corrdidor study was just getting started at that time. There was also a request across the street from Biercamp, so that a property could be used as a medical marijuana dispensary.

Higgins ventures that the city council has the final say on the South State Street corridor plan – to which Rampson says, “kinda sorta.” The planning commission and the city council have to concur, Rampson says. Higgins felt like the property owner had been in the pipeline for a while before the South State Street corridor study was under way. Rampson and Higgins engage in back-and-forth on timing of the citizen participation meetings for the corridor plan and the proposed project requiring rezoning.

Kunselman draws out a letter of support from McKinley for the corridor plan. Kunselman notes that the adjoining bus parking lot might no longer be a factor – as the school district may not continue to offer transportation.

10:01 p.m. Kunselman wonders if it’s good policy to get rid of manufacturing zoning. Rampson explains that the planning commission had also grappled with that. She points to Areas 1C in the plan that recommends maintaining the current uses, which include manufacturing. The area around the parcel that’s requested to be rezoned, Rampson says, has already seen some transition to office use.

10:01 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to deny initial approval to the rezoning of 2271 S. State Street.

10:01 p.m. Ordinance: Kerrytown Place rezoning. There are two items on the agenda related to the zoning that would be necessary for Kerrytown Place – the project that Tom Fitzsimmons is planning to build instead of The Gallery, on the site of the former Greek Orthodox church on Main Street. The rezoning would be from PUD (planned unit development district) to D2 (downtown interface base district).

The first rezoning item affects the parcels with Main Street frontage. The second rezoning item affects the parcels on Fourth Avenue. The city planning commission gave a unanimous recommendation of approval at its May 21, 2013 meeting. On the North Main Street side, the project would include a 16-unit townhouse building with an underground parking garage, 12 carport parking spaces and 24 surface parking spaces. On the North Fourth site – now a surface parking lot – the plan calls for constructing a duplex with a 2-car garage for each unit and a 21-space parking lot. Each unit of the duplex would face North Fourth. The council is just being asked to consider an initial vote on the rezoning tonight, not the site plan. Rezoning requires a second and final vote – at a meeting when the site plan is likely to be presented as well.

10:03 p.m. Briere introduces the items and briefly recites the history of the previously proposed project by a different owner. Kunselman says he’s pleased to support it. He reminds his colleagues that when the property was in the hands of the Washtenaw County treasurer, he’d proposed doing something similar – rezoning the property on the council’s initiation.

10:03 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to give initial approval to the rezoning changes necessary for the Kerrytown Place project.

10:03 p.m. Bond Re-Funding: Sewage. This item refinances $21,500,000 worth of sewage disposal system revenue bonds, which were issued in 2004. The expected savings, according to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, is more than $2 million over an 11-year term.

10:04 p.m. Lumm commends staff for staying on top of these issues. She notes the savings of $2 million.

10:04 p.m. The council has voted to approve the sewage disposal bond re-funding.

10:04 p.m. 2013 City Council Rules. For Chronicle coverage on these changes, see “Council Mulls Speaking Rule Changes.” Highlights include adding public commentary to council work sessions, but reducing public speaking time to two-minute turns. A “frequent flyer” rule would prevent people from signing up for reserved time at the start of a meeting two meetings in a row. The total time that each councilmember could speak on an item of debate would be reduced from eight minutes to five minutes. The council postponed a vote from its previous meeting on these changes.

10:05 p.m. Higgins says she wants to postpone the issue, in light of the absence of Petersen and Teall, who wanted to be a part of the conversation.

10:06 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to postpone the rule amendments until the July 15 meeting.

10:06 p.m. Resolution: Re-establish the mutually beneficial committee. The phrase “mutually beneficial” in connection with the sorting out of issues between the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority was first mooted in a Jan. 20, 2009 resolution. The main issue at that time was the contract under which the DDA administers the city’s public parking system. Subsequently, committees for both organizations were appointed, but they did not achieve any results. The following year, new committees were appointed and those committees met over the course of several months, culminating in a new parking agreement ratified in May 2011. The council formally disbanded its “mutually beneficial” committee at the end of 2011.

10:06 p.m. The current source of friction between the DDA and the city concerns the interpretation of Chapter 7 of the city code, which regulates the DDA’s tax increment finance (TIF) capture. The DDA has chosen to interpret the Chapter 7 language in a way that does not recognize the cap on TIF revenues that is set forth in Chapter 7. That led to a proposal by some councilmembers earlier this year to revise the ordinance so that the DDA’s alternate interpretation is clearly ruled out. The council gave the ordinance change initial approval on April 1, 2013. But later, on May 6, 2013, the council chose to postpone the vote until Sept. 3, the council’s first meeting that month.

In this resolution, the mutual beneficial committee is tasked with coming up with a recommendation for Chapter 7 revised language with a deadline of Sept. 2. The council will be represented by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). The DDA’s July 3 meeting agenda also includes its appointments to a mutually beneficial committee.

10:10 p.m. Briere introduces the item by saying that back in May, several people had said that the staff should be working on the issue. Whatever changes might come to Chapter 7, she felt councilmembers should have a voice. The mechanism for that was proposed to be to “reinvigorate” the mutual beneficial committee. Kunselman says that when the council approved the ordinance at first reading, he and Petersen had begun having conversations with DDA board members and staff. He sees the resolution tonight as solidifying a process that’s already underway.

However, Kunselman doesn’t like the label “mutually beneficial.” It’s now changed to the “joint DDA-council committee.” Higgins wants to add a member – for a total of four councilmembers. Higgins wants Lumm to be on the committee, saying that Lumm has put a lot of work into the issue. That proposal is accepted as friendly.

10:11 p.m. Kailsaspathy brings up the existing DDA partnership committee.

10:12 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to appoint a joint DDA-council committee.

10:12 p.m. R4C Committee. The planning commission had voted at its April 16, 2013 meeting to send recommendations to the city council for revisions to the R4C zoning areas – but without the actual wording of the ordinance changes. Any affirmative action by the council at this point would be to direct the planning commission to develop ordinance language that would reflect the recommendations. At that point, the planning commission would need to approve the proposed ordinance language, with final action still required by the council.

The zoning change recommendations resulted from work done by a citizens advisory committee that was established in the summer of 2009. Due to dissatisfaction about how the recommendations were handled, the council is reconstituting the citizens advisory committee. On the committee, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) will represent the planning commission. Chuck Carver will represent rental property owners. From the wards: Ilene Tyler and Ray Detter (Ward 1); Wendy Carman and Carl Luckenbach (Ward 2); Ellen Rambo and Michelle Derr (Ward 3); Julie Weatherbee and Nancy Leff (Ward 4); Eppie Potts and Anya Dale (Ward 5). Weatherbee will chair the group.

10:14 p.m. Higgins introduces the resolution, alluding to a neighborhood meeting that had taken place the previous week. Lumm thanks Higgins for her work. She wonders when the council might be asked to act on the recommendations. Higgins said that the committee would meet only two or three times. She said that before the council acts on the planning commission recommendations, the committee should be able to weigh in.

10:14 p.m. The council has voted to re-establish the R4C citizens advisory committee.

10:16 p.m. Appointment of Jean Cares to the greenbelt advisory commission as the agriculture landowner representative. Taylor, who also serves on GAC, introduces the resolution. He mentions that Cares owns the Dexter Mill. Hieftje says that it’s a difficult slot to fill.

10:16 p.m. The council has voted to postpone the appointment. This is a standard procedure, as this initial consideration is considered the nomination by the council. GAC is one of the few boards and commissions for which the council, not the mayor, makes the nominations.

10:16 p.m. South State Street Corridor Plan. This resolution would adopt the South State Street corridor plan into the city’s master plan. The city planning commission voted unanimously to adopt the plan at its May 21, 2013 meeting.

10:19 p.m. Higgins says she has concerns about adding the corridor plan to the city’s master plan. She asks for postponement.

10:20 p.m. The council has voted to postpone the South State Street corridor plan for two weeks.

10:21 p.m. The council has voted to go into a closed session to discuss pending litigation, which is one of the reasons allowed by the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

10:40 p.m. The council has emerged from closed session.

10:41 p.m. Box hangar bonds for airport. This is a notice of intent to issue up to $900,000 of bonds to fund construction of a new box hangar at the Ann Arbor municipal airport.

10:41 p.m. The council has voted to give notice of intent to issue the bonds for the box hangar construction.

10:41 p.m. Miller Avenue assessment for sidewalk curb and gutter. The special assessment would apply to 18 private property owners, who would pay an average of $365 apiece. The total construction cost of the project is stated in the table of assessment as $42,860 – with about 75% of that to be paid for with federal funds. This resolution is the fourth and final one in the process. A public hearing was held at the council’s previous meeting.

10:41 p.m. The council has voted to approve the special assessment for Miller Avenue improvements.

10:41 p.m. Arbor Oaks Rain Gardens. This item would award a $149,925 contract to Erie Construction LLC for construction of rain gardens.

10:41 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to award the rain garden construction contract.

10:41 p.m. Accept 33 sidewalks for public use. Under the city charter, a land transaction requires an eight-vote majority, and this qualifies as a land transaction. The item relates to the ordinance change that was postponed earlier in the meeting, which would have changed the definition of “sidewalk” in the city code. The staff summary of the result of a meeting with adjoining property owners includes this: “There was a general consensus amongst attendees at the public meeting that City Council should postpone voting on these items until further discussion can be had and more details can be worked out.” For many of the specific paths, there was a reluctance to accept the responsibility of snow removal during the winter.

10:42 p.m. The council has voted to postpone the acceptance of the sidewalks for public use until its first meeting in October.

10:42 p.m. Fair Food Network grant to Ann Arbor farmers market. This item accepts $36,000 in funding from the Fair Food Network to administer the Double Up Food Bucks program at the Ann Arbor farmers market. The program provides a match of up to $20 per person per day to people using BSNAP (Bridge Cards/EBT/Food Stamps) to purchase produce at Michigan farmers markets.

10:42 p.m. The council has voted to accept the $36,000 grant.

10:43 p.m. Precinct 2-8 polling place relocation. This would change the polling place for Precinct 2-8 from St. Paul Lutheran School, 495 Earhart Road, to First United Methodist Church, 1001 Green Road. According to a letter sent earlier this year by school principal Brad Massey to the city, the decision to stop offering St. Paul Lutheran Church and School as a polling place to the city was based on “recent events affecting the safety of school children.” [.pdf of April 16, 2013 letter]

10:43 p.m. Lumm thanks St. Paul for allowing the city to use the facility as a polling location for many years.

10:43 p.m. The council has voted unanimously to change the Precinct 2-8 polling location to the First United Methodist Church.

10:44 p.m. Appointments. The council is being asked to confirm tonight the nominations put forward at the council’s June 17, 2013 meeting. Among them is Jeremy Peters to the planning commission. Also on the agenda for confirmation are Eric Jacobson to the local development finance authority (LDFA) board and Jan Davies McDermott to the economic development corporation board.

10:46 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to confirm all the appointments.

10:46 p.m. Nominations. Russ Collins was nominated for a re-appointment to the board of the DDA. The nomination actually came chronologically before the confirmation votes.

10:47 p.m. Council communications. Taylor updates the council on the park advisory commission’s action at its June 18, 2013 meeting to recommend a waiver of fees for Liberty Plaza – in response to a request from Camp Take Notice to make sure that Pizza in the Park can continue at that location.

10:48 p.m. Public Commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.

10:54 p.m. Seth Best addresses the council, beginning by thanking everyone. He’s speaking on behalf of Camp Take Notice’s advocacy for humanitarian aid generally, not just for Liberty Plaza. He was concerned that humanitarian aid was being excluded because of concern for music, bands and art. He tells his story of becoming homeless in Texas, eventually making his way to Ann Arbor. Pizza in the Park had allowed him to be human again, he said – at least for an hour.

10:57 p.m. An EMU faculty member and MISSION board member is now addressing the council in support of the Camp Take Notice advocacy for Pizza in the Park. Caleb Poirer speaks next, and quips that this is too early to end a council meeting. He characterizes the PAC resolution as an attempt to address the concerns that Camp Take Notice had raised, but says that it doesn’t actually address their concerns. That’s why they’re continuing to push for a more general ordinance. He allows that the homeless are not natural constituents of any politician. So he was grateful that the council had been willing to give them “the time of day.”

10:57 p.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.

Ann Arbor city council, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

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  1. July 2, 2013 at 10:31 am | permalink

    With regard to the proposal to change the definition of “sidewalks”, the article notes: “The impact of the definition change would make the paths eligible to be repaired by the city using sidewalk millage funds.”

    The illustration used as an example for this article shows three walkways from public streets to Dicken Elementary School. Two of those walkways (PED-00014 and PED-0032) were repaved by the City last year without regard to ownership or the definition of sidewalks.

    I wonder whether those projects were funded with sidewalk millage money or some other source. If the City can address these two walkways without running afoul of the sidewalk definition or the limits on using the sidewalk millage, why can’t the “four paths in dire need of repair” be paved before the definition is changed?

  2. July 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm | permalink

    I’m happy to see these footpaths discussed. During my six years on the Eberwhite Safe Routes to School committee we tried many times to get the status of the footpaths clarified, in particular who is responsible for maintaining them and clearing the snow. In spite of the best efforts of City staff and a few councilmembers, we never did get this figured out.

    There are a few other paths not mentioned here. The most important one for Eberwhite kids is the Fair Street path. As far as I can tell it’s strictly private property, in spite of signage obviously installed by the City.

  3. July 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm | permalink

    Re: “The most important one for Eberwhite kids is the Fair Street path.”

    Jim, could you describe where that path runs? (From looking at Google Maps I wasn’t able to come up with anything – partly because there’s too many trees to see much of anything at the scale of a cross-lot path.)

  4. By John Floyd
    July 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm | permalink

    Glad Sabra has found something nice to say about everyone. I’m not sure what she meant by the comment on the mayor, and I’m curious about the remarks to Lumm, Taylor, and Kunsleman.

  5. July 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm | permalink

    Re: “I’m curious about … ”

    John, in case you mean “curious” in the sense that you wonder what the full-on remarks actually were as opposed to the super-brief summary, the link in the update above, repeated here, goes to the blog entry where Briere lays out the whole thing in its entirety.

  6. July 17, 2013 at 8:29 am | permalink

    Dave, sorry for the late reply, I’ve been out of town.

    The Fair Street path connects the two halves of Fair Street, and runs from the intersection of Fair and Glendale to the parking lot of the Westwood Apartments. It actually shows up on Google maps as a thin gray line.

    And I must have had my brain disengaged when I wrote that. The Fair Street path was important to me because its status was the least clear and it was (and still is) in the worst shape of the footpaths used by Eberwhite kids. For the kids, the most important path is probably whichever one they use to get to school.

    We recently lost another path to urban encroachment. There used to be a path across a vacant lot from Elder Street to Seventh, but houses have now been built over the path and I don’t think you can get through there any more.