City Council Special Meeting: Dec. 9, 2013

A special meeting of the Ann Arbor city council will be held starting at 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 in the council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron St. The special meeting is being called for the purpose of holding a closed session under Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. In the call for a special meeting, two exceptions to the OMA are cited as the purposes for holding the closed session: discussion of attorney-client privileged communication, and discussion of land acquisition issues.

The land acquisition component of the closed session likely relates to the pending sale of the Edwards Brothers property on South State Street to the University of Michigan for $12.8 million, which was announced in a press release last week. A right of first refusal on the property is held by the city of Ann Arbor as a condition of a tax abatement granted by the city council almost three years ago, on Jan. 18, 2011.

Under Ann Arbor’s city charter, a special meeting can be called on request of the mayor or by any three councilmembers. In the case of the Dec. 9 special meeting, it was Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Jack Eaton (Ward 4) who signed the call for the special meeting.

The unusual 4 p.m. start time for the special meeting results from the fact that the council already had its annual budget planning work session scheduled to start at that time and to last as long as 11 p.m. The location of the budget planning session will be the jury assembly room in the Justice Center adjoining city hall. The special meeting will be held in city hall, however – under the city charter provision requiring that “Special meetings of the Council shall be held at the regular meeting place thereof …”

The sequence of a special city council meeting followed by the budget planning session was also played out last year in mid-December. That’s when the council convened a special meeting to take a vote protesting the establishment of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. Like last year, the council’s budget planning session will be led by Julia Novak of the Novak Consulting Group.