Archive for October, 2013

Halloween 2013: Cuteness in Costume

Editor’s note: Since 2008, Myra Klarman, a professional photographer based in Ann Arbor, has been sharing with Chronicle readers her images from the annual Main Street Halloween Treat Parade. [Take a look at her photos from 2012,  201120102009, and 2008 as well.] This year was a bit damp, but trick-or-treaters – and Myra – were undaunted. We hope you enjoy the festivities – Happy Halloween!

"These muscles are all natural – no scare-oid use was involved."

“These muscles are all natural – no scare-oid use was involved.”

[Full Story]

Liberty & Ashley

Some of the dignified portraits at the Old Town are sporting Halloween masks, thanks to Liz. [photo]

City Hall

Over 2 dozen Skyline High students showed up for a meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission’s capital improvements plan committee, forcing a chance of venue to the larger council chambers. They report it’s the last public meeting prior to Friday’s deadline for a class assignment. [photo]

A2: Lynn Rivers

Roll Call has published a feature on former Congresswoman Lynn Rivers, who lives in Ann Arbor and teaches at Washtenaw Community College. From the article: ”Rivers said that maybe she could help a campaign someday, but she doesn’t see herself ever running for anything again. She liked her former lifestyle, but she likes her new one, too. ‘There’s a certain appeal to eating dinner at a table, sleeping in your own bed, having pets,’ Rivers said.” [Source]

County Board Debates Taxes, State Laws

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Oct. 16, 2013): A packed agenda and extensive public commentary resulted in a meeting lasting over six hours, with the majority of discussion focused on three issues: (1) the state’s Stand Your Ground law; (2) an increase to the Act 88 tax, and questions about the legality of such a levy; and (3) the county’s participation in a Pittsfield Township corridor improvement authority for State Street.

Stand Your Ground, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A supporter of Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law brought his gun to the Oct. 16 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. (Photos by the writer.)

About three dozen people spoke to the board about the Stand Your Ground resolution, which urged the state legislature to repeal that law. Although there were speakers on both sides of the issue, more than 20 voiced opposition to the resolution, including several who attended the meeting wearing sidearms.

It was after midnight when the board took a 5-to-4 vote to pass the resolution, over dissent from Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1), Dan Smith (R-District 2), Alicia Ping (R-District 3), and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5). In support of the resolution were Felicia Brabec (D-District 4), Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 9).

The following week, David Raaflaub of Ypsilanti – a former candidate for county commissioner – filed a complaint against the board in the 22nd Circuit Court. The complaint asks the court to determine two issues: (1) what authority the board has that enables it to “draw conclusions of law,” and (2) what authority the board has to represent the county in seeking changes to state law. Dan Smith has indicated that he would bring forward a resolution to rescind the board’s Oct. 16 action, if it’s determined that the county will incur additional costs – such as fees for outside legal counsel – to defend the lawsuit.

Another major debate on Oct. 16 related to an increase in the Act 88 tax levy, which funds economic development and agriculture – including activities of Ann Arbor SPARK. The board ultimately gave initial approval to increase the tax from 0.06 mills to 0.07 mills, following a long discussion and a failed attempt by Conan Smith to increase the tax even more, to 0.09 mills. His proposal for a draft policy to guide the allocation of Act 88 funds did win support from the majority of commissioners, however.

The county’s position is that it’s authorized to collect the Act 88 millage – as well as a levy for veterans relief services – without seeking voter approval. That’s because the state legislation that enables the county to levy these taxes predates Michigan’s Headlee Amendment. During deliberations, Dan Smith raised questions about whether levying this kind of tax is constitutional. He also questions whether the language of the Act 88 statute allows the kind of general interpretation the county is using to define eligible uses of funds generated by the levy.

Dan Smith also proposed amendments for both the Act 88 and veterans relief millages in the future exempt them from capture by tax increment financing (TIF) districts or authorities in the county. Those exemptions, which were approved by the board, would apply to tax capture from a proposed State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA) in Pittsfield Township. After about 90 minutes of debate, the board gave initial approval to participate in that project, with Dan Smith casting the only dissenting vote. He had unsuccessfully proposed postponement, then floated an opt-out resolution that did not secure enough votes to pass. The board is expected to take a final vote on participating in the CIA at its Nov. 6 meeting.

In other action, the board (1) gave initial approval to a proposed brownfield redevelopment plan by the Chelsea Milling Co., makers of Jiffy Mix; (2) appointed Barb Fuller to the county road commission; (3) took an initial vote to extend the coordinated funding approach, which supports local nonprofits; and (4) authorized the annual apportionment report, with details of the 2013 taxable valuations for property in the county.

And in a vote taken after midnight, the board rejected a proposal that would have given notice to eliminate a lump-sum budgeting approach for Washtenaw County’s court system. That vote was 3-6, with support from only Dan Smith (R-District 2), Conan Smith (D-District 9) and Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1). [Full Story]

Monthly Milestone: Watching Words

The Chronicle’s November milestone column comes to you a few days earlier than the customary second day of the month. That’s because I wanted to include a quick preview of a performance scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Kerrytown Concert House – by mezzo soprano Laurie Rubin.

Laurie Rubin, photo from press kit.

Laurie Rubin. (Photo from press kit.)

The Chronicle has rarely, if ever, written about entertainment. And as I explained to Laurie, when she called me up to make her pitch, our approach to covering Ann Arbor’s community doesn’t include standard “preview” pieces for live performances.

The boilerplate explanation I typically use on the phone includes a description of The Chronicle’s preferred strategy for giving readers advance notice of interesting performances. That strategy is an event listing that runs off Internet standards-compliant data feeds and helps to strengthen the community’s “calendar web.” So obviously the tactic here is partly designed to bore the caller to death, so that they’ll just give up and accept the fact that I’m not going to write a preview article about their performance.

You will find Laurie’s Nov. 1 Kerrytown Concert House performance included in The Chronicle’s event calendar, categorized as music.

Fortunately for you, dear readers, Laurie declined my gambit that she surrender to my boring, rambling talk about data feeds and technology platforms. Instead she expressed a weirdly geeked-out interest in these data feeds and calendars, which I probably seemed very excited about. She instantly grasped the concept of maintaining a calendar that automatically generates a data feed that any publication or individual can access. I didn’t figure that an opera singer would be such a receptive audience for that sort of thing. But at least she had stopped talking about her Nov. 1 performance at Kerrytown Concert House, so that was a good thing, from my point of view.

But in closing out the conversation, Laurie renewed her pitch for a preview article, based on her memoir, “Do You Dream in Color: Insights from a Girl Without Sight.” Even though I was still thinking to myself, “No preview articles! Not even for blind opera singers!” I figured Laurie might be a receptive audience for some additional conversation about a different topic.

That topic is an accessibility project for public meetings that The Chronicle has been working on somewhat sporadically. The idea is to provide digital streaming text for members of the deaf and hearing-impaired community to read – either live at public meetings or during a video replay. Yes, I fully understood that I was talking to a self-described “blind girl” – for whom this particular accessibility project offered zero obvious benefit. Yet Laurie turned out to be a willing conversation partner. And in The Chronicle’s basic technological approach, she saw a potential benefit to the blind and visually impaired community that would never have occurred to me. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Grinds Gears But OKs Rail Study

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Oct. 21, 2013): The council did not adjourn its meeting until just before 1 a.m., but still left itself with unfinished business.

Mayor John Hieftje checked his computer screen before the meeting started. Six hours later, the meeting adjourned.

Mayor John Hieftje checked his computer screen before the meeting started. Six hours later he declared the meeting adjourned. (Photos by the writer.)

Some of that business – the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority ordinance revision on TIF (tax increment financing) capture – was postponed until the council’s next meeting, on Nov. 7. Other business – Ypsilanti Township’s membership in the AAATA – was postponed until Nov. 18. That will be the first meeting of the new, post-election composition of the council.

First, here’s a rundown of the main outcomes from the meeting.

Transportation was a main theme on the agenda. The postponement on admitting Ypsilanti Township as a member of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority was the clear majority consensus, as it succeeded on an 8-3 vote. After that, the council voted unanimously to approve a contract with URS Corporation Inc. (URS) to conduct the Ann Arbor Station project environmental review. The total approved for the Ann Arbor Station contract – which will cover public engagement, site selection and conceptual design – was $824,875, an amount that includes a $63,083 contingency.

The city would pay 20% of that, or about $165,000. The remainder will be covered by a federal grant. The council’s unanimous support was based on two factors: (1) the fact that there was to be no presupposed preferred alternative location for the station, and (2) that the public engagement process outlined in the project tasks was thorough.

The council also voted unanimously to give final approval to a change in the city’s sidewalk ordinance. As a result, cross-lot walkways in Ann Arbor will now be treated as “sidewalks” from the perspective of the city’s sidewalk repair millage. Even though the millage funds can now be used to repair the walkways, owners of property adjacent to cross-lot walkways will not bear responsibility for snow removal in the winter. Cross-lot walkways include those that connect streets to parks or school property, or connect two parallel streets.

The Ann Arbor DDA figured in other agenda items beyond the postponed vote on TIF capture. The council voted just 7-4 to approve a new budget allocation of $280,000 from the general fund to pay for a portion of a Main Street light pole replacement project. That didn’t meet the eight-vote majority requirement for the budget allocation to pass. The failed vote was the result of political wrangling between the council and the DDA board and staff over whether the DDA would not be able, or simply was unwilling, to fund the total cost of the $580,000 light pole replacement project. The poles are rusting out and pose some level of safety threat, although those deemed to be in immediate danger of falling have already been replaced.

The Ann Arbor DDA was also the topic of another agenda item – when the council voted 8-3 to reconsider its Sept. 16 vote on the appointment of Al McWilliams to the board of the DDA. On the 8-3 vote, the question of the appointment was again in front of the council. Councilmembers took 20 minutes to discuss the item before voting again 6-5 – along the same split as on Sept. 16 – to appoint McWilliams to the board. The 8-3 split on reconsideration was the same 8-3 split as on the postponement of the Ypsilanti Township membership in the AAATA – with mayor John Hieftje, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) declining to join the majority on both occasions.

The other nomination on which the council voted was Wayne Appleyard’s reappointment to the city’s energy commission – with a tally of 8-3. That was enough to satisfy the city charter’s non-city resident requirement of seven votes. Dissenters were Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2). Kailasapathy and Lumm had concerns about Appleyard’s long term of service (since 2002). So they’ll be bringing forward an ordinance revision at a future meeting to establish term limits for all boards and commissions. The city charter already imposes term limits on a specific category of boards and commissions.

The council had another significant item on its agenda related to the energy commission – a resolution on divestment from fossil fuel companies that the commission had recommended the council approve. It was the third time the council had seen the question, after first voting it down, then reconsidering and postponing it. At the Oct. 21 meeting, the council amended the resolution to soften it further, which gave it a 9-2 tally when the council voted. Ward 2 councilmembers Sally Petersen and Jane Lumm dissented.

Besides the unfinished business from the Oct. 21 meeting, future meetings of the council will include the Lumm-Kailasapathy initiative to amend the city’s ordinance on boards and commissions to include term limits. Other initiatives announced at the Oct. 21 meeting included an outdoor smoking ordinance that Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) reported he’s been working on with city staff – with an eye toward establishing non-smoking areas in city parks.

Petersen announced that she’ll be putting forward a resolution stemming from frequent mention by community members of the need for a council ethics policy. Among other direction, Petersen’s resolution would ask the city attorney to provide guidance on a state statute. Warpehoski announced that he and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) were working on a framework to establish a pedestrian safety citizens advisory committee – possibly to be seated at the Nov. 18 council meeting. The effort is not designed to determine or preempt the outcome of an effort to repeal the pedestrian crosswalk ordinance, Warpehoski stated.

And Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) announced that he and Margie Teall (Ward 4) would be bringing forth a resolution asking the University of Michigan to decommission the large digital billboard it has constructed on East Stadium Boulevard next to the football stadium. The fallback position of the resolution will be to ask that the university restrict the time of the billboard’s operation, Taylor said.

Some items considered by the council but not included in this report are reflected in the live updates filed from the Oct. 21 meeting. [Full Story]

A2: Giant Pumpkins

On her blog Mae Travels, Mae Sander documents the delivery by forklift of a large pumpkin to a house in the Burns Park neighborhood. [Source]

Feedback on Downtown Zoning Continues

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Oct. 15, 2013): Planning commissioners continued a discussion that began at their Oct. 8 working session over proposed changes to downtown zoning. But they took no action and will pick up the topic at their next meeting, on Nov. 6.

Running Fit, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Running Fit building at East Liberty and Fourth Avenue. A proposal calls for building three additional floors for apartments or condos. The adjacent building owner is concerned about blocking the three windows – barely visible in this photo – that are in apartments facing over the current one-story building. (Photos by the writer.)

Questions and comments covered a range of issues, including potential conflict of interest over a lot next to city hall that’s owned by the University of Michigan Credit Union. Five commissioners are UMCU members, and the credit union president objects to a proposed rezoning of the site. Other discussion points included affordable housing premiums, the use of diagonals as a tool for influencing the shape of tall buildings, and concerns over rezoning public land.

Ten people spoke during a public hearing on the zoning review. Before the hearing began, planning commission chair Kirk Westphal stated that the hearing would likely continue at a future meeting, but that speakers would be allowed only one turn during the entire hearing – either that night, or at a subsequent meeting. Midway through the hearing, Sabra Briere raised an objection to Westphal’s ruling, and commissioners spent about 20 minutes debating the issue. The commission ultimately voted to allow for people to speak more than once when the public hearing is continued, over the objection of Westphal, Diane Giannola and Wendy Woods.

Consultant Erin Perdu of ENP & Associates attended the Oct. 15 meeting and answered questions from commissioners, but her contract for this project has now expired. Planning manager Wendy Rampson indicated that any additional work from Perdu would require city council approval.

In addition to the downtown zoning review, two development projects were on the Oct. 15 agenda. Commissioners recommended approval of an three-floor addition to the Running Fit building at East Liberty and South Fourth. The expansion will create six residential units.

During a public hearing on the project, Ali Almiri – who owns the adjacent building to the west at 119 E. Liberty – raised concerns that three bedroom windows in his building’s residential rental units would be blocked by this new structure. He and his attorney urged that the new project be required to accommodate those existing windows. The issue will continue to be investigated by planning staff, building staff and possibly the city attorney’s office prior to the project’s consideration by the city council.

Another proposal – related to plans for two new restaurants at Briarwood Mall, on the east side of Macy’s – was postponed, because of several outstanding issues that still need to be resolved.

During public commentary, Alex Perlman, a co-owner of the food carts The Beet Box and Cheese Dream, highlighted a project at 1215 S. University – the former location of Pinball Pete’s, which burned down in 2009. The project, called Eat the Hub, would repurpose the space as a temporary food cart yard that would accommodate between three to six carts. Perlman noted that current city ordinances “don’t reflect the ever-changing landscape that mobile food businesses require.” He said he’d appreciate any help to move this project forward. [Full Story]

Ingalls Mall near North University

The area was filled with mist as University of Michigan workers blew compressed air through the sprinkler system. A worker told me that people often ask if it is a toxic mist. Nope. Just water and air. They are winterizing the fountains and sprinklers all over campus, and the suggestion was made that everyone do the same this week before it is too late. [photo 1] [photo 2] [photo 3]

Ann Arbor Campaign Finance 2013

Candidates in Ann Arbor city council races have so far raised a combined total of more than $50,000 in contributions for the general election to be held on Nov. 5, 2013. The $20,875 raised by Ward 2 independent incumbent Jane Lumm made her total about twice as much as any other candidate. That included Ward 2 Democratic challenger Kirk Westphal, who raised $10,103 during the pre-election campaign period, which ended Oct. 20.

All Candidates

Dots correspond to addresses that made contributions to Ann Arbor city council candidates for the Nov. 5, 2013 election.

Lumm’s fundraising effort during the pre-election phase exceeded her total from 2011 when she contested the general election with incumbent Democrat Stephen Rapundalo. That year she raised $18,950 from 193 donors.

The third Ward 2 candidate, Conrad Brown, filed a reporting waiver, which is allowed if a candidate does not expect to raise more than $1,000.

Ward 1 incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere raised $11,800 in a race where she’s challenged by independent Jeff Hayner, who has raised $2,680 so far.

In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman, who survived a tough primary race with Julie Grand, did not raise any additional money during this most recent filing period. Kunselman’s independent challenger Sam DeVarti raised $945.

In Ward 5, Mike Anglin does not have an opponent on the ballot, but raised $4,299 in this most recent period. He’s spent $1,340 of that. In addition to Thomas Partridge, who declared his write-in candidacy much earlier in the year, Charles “Chip” Smith has just recently filed his paperwork to declare a write-in candidacy for the Ward 5 seat that’s up for election this year. Responding to an emailed query, Smith said he will try to keep his expenditures under the reporting-waiver limit of $1,000.

In Ward 4, Jack Eaton does not face any opponents on Nov. 5 on the ballot or as write-ins, but does have a write-in opponent in William Lockwood. Eaton won the Democratic primary against incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins.

The Ann Arbor city council includes a total of 11 members – two from each of the city’s five wards and the mayor. All city council positions are elected for two-year terms, with one of the wards’s seats up for election every year. The position of mayor is elected in even years, so not this year.

The filings, which were due on Oct. 25, are available through the Washtenaw County clerk’s searchable campaign finance database. Charts and maps by The Chronicle are presented after the jump. [Full Story]

Ashley & Liberty

Sarah and the other Downtown Home and Garden crew have moved aside the bulbs and were busy unwrapping Christmas ornaments. It is almost the season. The whole front barn area was cordoned off as they worked. [photo]

Fifth & Washington

A mural is being painted in the alley off of E. Washington between Fourth and Fifth avenues, next to the not-yet-opened Aventura, a new tapas restaurant at 212-216 E. Washington. The most prominent image so far is a bull. [photo] [photo]

Column: Why Jim Leyland’s Way Worked

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

When you’re 68, working in a young man’s game, announcing your retirement is not a surprise. But Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a few underappreciated qualities that are worth remembering.

Jim Leyland was a baseball man to the core. Raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, the son of a glassworker, he grew up wanting to do one thing: Play baseball.

He was good, very good, so the Tigers signed him up to play catcher in their minor league system. But just to get to the majors, you need to be great – and after seven years battling to get to the big leagues, Leyland realized he wasn’t great. Not as a player, at least.

So he decided to become a manager, and worked his way up from Detroit’s lowest minor league team to its highest. That climb took him from Bristol, Virginia, to Clinton, Iowa, to Montgomery, Alabama, then Lakeland, Florida, and finally Evansville, Indiana – Detroit’s top farm club. [Full Story]

Leadership Changes Set at Trial Court

David S. Swartz has been named chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court, effective Jan. 1, 2014. The appointment was made by the Michigan Supreme Court and announced in a press release issued on Oct. 24 by court administrator Dan Dwyer.

Swartz will replace current chief judge Donald Shelton, who has served in that position for four years. Because of his age, Shelton will be ineligible for re-election when his term ends next year. The state constitution requires that judicial candidates at the time of election must be younger than 70 years old. According to the press release, as of Jan. 1 Shelton will be presiding judge of of the trial court’s civil/criminal division through the end of 2014, … [Full Story]

Washtenaw Board Sued Over Stand Your Ground

Ypsilanti attorney David Raaflaub has filed a lawsuit against the Washtenaw County board of commissioners over a resolution that the board passed on Oct. 16, 2013. The resolution, which was approved on a 5-4 vote, urged state legislators to repeal Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. [.pdf of board resolution] [.pdf of Raaflaub complaint]

The complaint, filed on Oct. 21 in the 22nd Circuit Court of Washtenaw County, asks the court to determine two issues: (1) what authority the board has that enables it to “draw conclusions of law,” and (2) what authority the board has to represent the county in seeking changes to state law.

Curtis Hedger, the county’s corporation counsel, stated in an Oct. 24 email to The … [Full Story]

Maynard & William

Maynard Street: Pavement striping truck lays down a fresh center line in front of Nickels Arcade.

Charles “Chip” Smith to File as Ward 5 Write-In

Voters in Ann Arbor’s Ward 5 city council election on Nov. 5, 2013 will have a choice of an additional write-in candidate: Charles “Chip” Smith. The Ward 5 resident set up a Write in Chip Facebook page announcing his candidacy on Oct. 23.

The deadline for filing a declaration of write-in candidacy is Oct. 25. Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Smith indicated he plans to file the necessary paperwork this afternoon, on Oct. 24.

Smith is a municipal planner in Wade Trim’s environmental design and planning group. He holds a masters degree in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan. [More background on ArborWiki]

Already filed as a write-in candidate for Ward 5 is Thomas Partridge. The only … [Full Story]

Stadium & Packard

Hot tip: Due to a permit issue, Peet’s coffee trailer  offers free coffee every morning til Nov. 17.

Library Wary of Downtown Park Proposal

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Oct. 21, 2013): Expressing concerns over the possible addition of a downtown park on the city-owned Library Lot site – adjacent to the downtown library – AADL trustees discussed but took no formal action related to a recent recommendation of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission.

Library Lot, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

View looking north toward the city-owned Library Lot, taken from the fourth floor of the Ann Arbor District Library building. (Photos by the writer.)

The idea for a new park was among several recommendations approved by the commission at its Oct. 15, 2013 meeting, to be forwarded to the city council for consideration. The AADL was specifically mentioned in the Library Lot recommendation: “In order to adequately address issues of safety and security, the Ann Arbor District Library must also be strongly represented in the planning process.”

AADL director Josie Parker stressed that neither she nor board president Prue Rosenthal had indicated that the library is in any way capable of advising the city regarding security and safety of a park. They had attended a meeting of the downtown park subcommittee, she said, and had related the library’s experiences regarding a range of security issues at the downtown building. Parker reported that so far in 2013, the library has made police requests to its downtown building on average every 3.5 days.

Trustees generally expressed caution and noted that many questions remained about whether a downtown park at that location would be viable, without adequate oversight and additional development. Parker planned to relay the board’s concerns to the park advisory commission.

Another major item of discussion at the Oct. 21 meeting related to Pittsfield Township’s proposed State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA). Craig Lyon, director of utilities and municipal services for Pittsfield Township, and Dick Carlisle of Carlisle Wortman Associates were on hand to answer questions, as was CIA board member Claudia Kretschmer of Gym America. Trustees asked a range of questions, covering other financing options, the process for receiving federal funds, and the procedure for opting out of this new tax increment financing (TIF) authority.

If the board decides that AADL will opt out, a resolution would need to be passed. Taxing entities have a 60-day period in which to make an opt-out decision. That period began with an Oct. 9 public hearing held by the Pittsfield Township board, and will end in early December. The only AADL board meeting currently scheduled before then is on Nov. 11.

In its one main action item on Oct. 21, the board authorized a $40,000 adjustment to AADL’s 2013-14 budget to cover costs of repairs and testing of the downtown library roof. The adjustment transfers $40,000 from the library’s fund balance to the repair and maintenance line item. According to the most recent financial report, the library had a fund balance of $8.03 million as of Sept. 30, 2013.

During her director’s report, Parker highlighted some of the niche services that the library provides – such as hosting a Minecraft server and a recent Oculus Rift Hackathon. She said she wanted the board to think about the things that go beyond just lending books – services that are important to some but completely irrelevant to others. “The combination of it all is what makes the Ann Arbor District Library the amazing library system that we all know it is,” Parker said. “It’s the sum of all these parts, not one aspect or service.”

During committee reports, Nancy Kaplan noted that the communications committee hopes to receive a report later this month from Allerton-Hill Consulting to review. The consultants were hired earlier this year to conduct a communications audit for the library – a move that’s been criticized by some residents who believe the work is positioning AADL for another bond proposal to build a new downtown library.

For the first time in several months, no one spoke during public commentary at the board meeting. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Receives 5 Bids on Old Y Lot

The city of Ann Arbor has received five bids for the purchase of the old YMCA lot on William Street, between Fifth and Fourth avenues in downtown Ann Arbor:

  • Smart Hotels Opus Development: $5.2 million. Contingencies include: off-site parking in Library Lane and 4th and William public parking structures; and 700% floor area ratio (FAR) [(1) apartment – at least 130 market-rate units; (2) hotel – at least 120 guest rooms; (3) retail]. The offer expires if the city doesn’t indicate the terms are acceptable within 10 business days after receipt of the Oct. 18 letter (Nov. 1). [.pdf of Smart Hotels Opus Development offer 10.18.13]
  • Hughes Acquisition: $5.2 million. The approach would be to agree to purchase, pending approval of … [Full Story]

Public Art Commission Sets Retreat

The Ann Arbor public art commission voted to schedule a retreat on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m., at a location to be determined. The action took place at AAPAC’s Oct. 23, 2013 meeting. The item to create this committee was added to the agenda at the start of the meeting.

The point is to review the selection of projects for the commission’s annual plan, as well as to help build rapport among commissioners. Three new commissioners have joined AAPAC this year: Devon Akmon, Ashlee Arder, and Nick Zagar. The retreat will be held in place of the commission’s regular Nov. 27 meeting, which has been canceled. Update: The Nov. 20 retreat was subsequently canceled, as was AAPAC’s Nov. 27 regular … [Full Story]