Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s April 21, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. The intent is to facilitate easier navigation from the live updates section to background material already in this file. Those updates will start closer to the scheduled meeting start time of 7 p.m.
The presentation of the city administrator’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which starts July 1, 2014, is the main event of the Ann Arbor city council’s April 21 meeting. As the second council meeting of April, it’s the occasion specified in the city charter for that presentation.
At its April 21 meeting, however, the council won’t be voting on next year’s budget. Under the city charter, the council will need to adopt the budget by the time of its second regular meeting in May, which falls on May 19 this year. The Chronicle has covered the FY 2015 budget preview in a separate article.
Related to this year’s budget is an agenda item for April 21 that will transfer $600,000 from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. The city administrator had been directed by the council to prepare the budget amendment at its March 3, 2014 meeting. The action was contingent on the final closing of the sale of the former Y lot. Net proceeds from that sale were roughly $1.4 million and were deposited into the affordable housing trust fund. The $600,000 will support AAHC’s efforts to make major capital improvements to its public housing properties.
The AAHC is featured in two other resolutions related to its plan of capital improvements, which include projects at North Maple Estates, North Maple Duplexes, Lower Platt, Broadway, and White/State/Henry apartments. One resolution approves a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for those AAHC properties. A second resolution approves a 50% waiver of the site plan, zoning and street vacation fees for the North Maple Estates and Lower Platt projects.
Also on the April 21 agenda based on previous action by the council, at its April 7, 2014 meeting, is the second and final reading of a local ordinance that would regulate smoking in certain outdoor places. Those places include locations near entrances of buildings and potentially in parts of city parks at the discretion of the city administrator. A public hearing will precede the council’s vote on the outdoor smoking regulations.
Measured by the number of items on the agenda, sidewalks are a significant highlight. Sidewalk gaps on Scio Church Road and Newport Road have two resolutions each – related to the special assessments that will be imposed on property owners adjoining the stretches where sidewalks will be constructed. One resolution directs the city assessor to prepare a special assessment roll of properties to be assessed. The other resolution sets a public hearing on the special assessment – for May 5, 2014 at the council’s regular meeting on that date.
The council will also be asked to approve $177,100 of city funds for the construction of the Scio Church sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive. The Barton Drive sidewalk will also be special assessed – with the associated resolutions to be presented to the council at a future meeting.
Rounding out the council’s April 21 agenda are some land use items. The council will be asked to approve the site plan for an overhaul of a Shell station and a new drive-thru restaurant at the northeast corner of the East Eisenhower Parkway and South State Street. Another site plan the council will be asked to approve is for the expansion of an office building at 278-280 Collingwood on Ann Arbor’s west side. A third site plan on the April 21 agenda is for an expansion to the Concordia University gym, which also includes reconfiguring nearby parking lots and stormwater management features on the 187-acre site at 4090 Geddes Road, just west of US-23 and north of the Huron River.
Also on the April 21 agenda are appointments to the environmental commission for David Stead, Kirk Westphal, and Susan Hutton. Appointments to this commission are different from most appointments to boards and commissions, in that the mayor does not nominate them. The appointments are under control of the council as a body.
The April 21 agenda includes the authorization for some street closings for upcoming events: NTI Block Party (July 30, 2014), Rolling Sculpture Car Show (July 11, 2014), and Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park (June 9 through July 9, 2014).
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Monday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article below the preview material. Click here to skip the preview section and go directly to the live updates. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Ann Arbor Housing Commission
Three resolutions on the April 21 agenda relate to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission: a $600,000 transfer from the city’s affordable housing fund to AAHC; approval of a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for AAHC properties; and approval of a 50% waiver of fees for capital improvement projects to be undertaken by AAHC.
AAHC: $600,000 Transfer
At its March 3, 2014 meeting, the council had directed the city administrator to prepare a budget resolution that would allocate $600,000 from the city’s affordable housing trust fund to support the AAHC’s plan to renovate its properties.
That allocation was to be contingent on the closing of the sale of the former Y lot to Dennis Dahlmann, as the net proceeds of that sale are to be deposited into the city’s affordable housing trust fund. The sale of the property closed on April 2.
So on the April 21 meeting agenda is the resolution the council had directed the city administrator to prepare.
The agenda also includes an item authorizing a payment in lieu of taxes for AAHC properties at North Maple Estates, North Maple Duplexes, Lower Platt, Broadway, and White/State/Henry Apartments. The period for which property taxes are being waived – under Section 15(a) of the State Housing Development Authority Act and Chapter 19, Section 1:651 of Ann Arbor City Code – is 50 years. In lieu of taxes, a $1 service charge must be paid.
AAHC: 50% Waiver
For the North Maple and Lower Platt AAHC renovation projects, the city would ordinarily assess fees for site plan approval, zoning approval and street vacation. Those charges break down as follows, for a total of $22,705:
- North Maple: $8,995 for site plan approval; $1,425 for zoning approval; and $2,565 for street vacation
- Lower Platt: $8,295 for site plan approval; $1,425 for zoning approval
But under Chapter 55, Section 5:108 of Ann Arbor city code, those fees may be reduced by resolution of the city council by up to 50% of the specified fees – if the reduction is based on a finding that the development would provide affordable housing for lower-income households.
The item on the council’s April 21 agenda would reduce the fees by 50%.
To be considered for final approval at the council’s April 21 meeting is a law regulating smoking in some outdoor locations. It was given initial approval by the council on April 7. The law would regulate smoking outside of public buildings and also potentially in areas of some city parks.
Made punishable under the proposed ordinance through a $50 civil fine would be smoking within 20 feet of: (1) bus stops; (2) entrances, windows and ventilation systems of the Blake Transit Center; and (3) entrances, windows and ventilation systems any city-owned building. Community service could be ordered instead of the payment of a fine.
The ordinance would also authorize the city administrator to have signs posted designating certain parks or portions of parks as off limits for outdoor smoking, and to increase the distance from entrances to city buildings where outdoor smoking is prohibited.
Where no signs are posted noting the smoking prohibition, a citation could be issued only if someone doesn’t stop smoking immediately when asked to stop.
A public hearing on the new ordinance will be held at the April 21 meeting.
The initial approval at the council’s April 7, 2014 meeting came after it had been postponed on March 3, 2014, and before that on Feb. 3, 2014. The initial approval came over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Jack Eaton (Ward 4). They cited concern that enforcement of the smoking law could distract from other policing duties and could have a disparate impact on the homeless population.
Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), sponsor of the proposed new local law, appeared before the city’s park advisory commission on Feb. 25, 2014 to brief commissioners on the proposal and solicit feedback.
An existing Washtenaw County ordinance already prohibits smoking near entrances, windows and ventilation systems, according to the staff memo accompanying the resolution – but the county’s ordinance can be enforced only by the county health department. The memo further notes that the Michigan Clean Indoor Air Act does not regulate outdoor smoking.
Ellen Rabinowitz, interim health officer for Washtenaw County, attended the April 7 meeting and spoke to councilmembers about the county’s experience. She supported the city ordinance, as did Cliff Douglas, director of the University of Michigan’s Tobacco Research Network. Douglas addressed the council during public commentary and answered questions later in the meeting.
Council deliberations from the initial approval of this item are included in The Chronicle’s live updates filed during the April 7 meeting.
Sidewalk gaps on Scio Church Road and Newport Road have two resolutions each – related to the special assessments that will be imposed on property owners adjoining the stretches where sidewalks are to be constructed. One resolution directs the city assessor to prepare a special assessment roll of properties to be assessed. The other resolution sets a public hearing on the special assessment – for May 5, 2014 at the council’s regular meeting on that date.
The total amount to be special assessed for the Newport Road project is $49,746. But residents of the Newport Creek Site Condominium – who would not ordinarily be assessed, as their property isn’t adjacent to the sidewalk – have volunteered to contribute $10,228 to the project to help offset their neighbors’ assessments. Details of that arrangement are being finalized.
For the Scio Church Road sidewalk project, the total cost is expected to be $365,100. Of that, about $164,000 will be paid from a Federal Surface Transportation grant. The remaining $201,100 will be paid out of the general fund and by the special assessment of just $1,626.
The council will also be asked to approve $177,100 of city funds for the construction of the Scio Church sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive. The Barton Drive sidewalk will also be special assessed – with the associated resolutions to be presented to the council at a future meeting.
Approval of the design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church stretches of new sidewalk was approved by the city council at its March 3, 2014 meeting.
By way of additional background, at its July 15, 2013 meeting, the council approved $15,000 for preliminary design of a sidewalk along Barton Drive. And at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting, the council approved $15,000 for preliminary study of a sidewalk to be constructed along Scio Church, west of Seventh Street. On Nov. 7, 2013, the council approved another $35,000 for Scio Church sidewalk design work. The design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church stretches of new sidewalk, drew on the previously authorized funding.
The preliminary planning budget of $15,000 for the Newport Road sidewalk gap was approved over a year ago by the council at its Jan. 23, 2013 meeting.
Three site plans appear on the council’s April 21 agenda: Concordia University’s proposed gym expansion; an expansion of an office building on Collingwood; and the overhaul of a Shell station on South State.
Land Use: Concordia University Gym Expansion
A site plan to expand the existing Concordia University gym is on the agenda for city council approval.
The plan also includes reconfiguring nearby parking lots and stormwater management features on the 187-acre site at 4090 Geddes Road, just west of US-23 and north of the Huron River. The city planning commission recommended approval of the site plan at its March 4, 2014 meeting.
Planning commissioners granted a special exception use for the project. That’s required because the private university is located on a site zoned R1B (single-family residential district). The site plan requires city council approval, but the special exception use does not.
The proposal calls for a three-story, 34,391-square-foot addition to the current 22,021-square-foot gym that was built in the early 1960s, located on the west side of Concordia’s main campus. [.pdf of campus map] The addition will include men’s and women’s locker rooms, athletic office space, classrooms and an auxiliary gym.
A second phase of the project entails constructing a single-story, 5,280-square-foot athletic training room. An existing gravel parking area west of the gym will be paved and landscaped, and another lot north of the gym along Geddes will get new landscaping and bioswales. A total of 92 new parking spaces will be created, mostly in the former gravel lot.
A new stormwater management system will be completed to address a 100-year storm event, including a detention pond with an outlet into a bioswale south of the developed area. The site plan is for a planned project, which allows variations in height and placement. The proposed addition would be 39 feet high. The site’s zoning has a height limit of 30 feet. The existing gym is about 33 feet high, measured at the midpoint of the roof.
Land Use: Collingwood Office Building
The council will be asked to approve a site plan that expands an office building at 278-280 Collingwood. The proposal received a recommendation of approval from the Ann Arbor planning commission at its March 18, 2014 meeting.
The site plan calls for removing the existing second floor on the east side of the office building and constructing a 2,451-square-foot second floor over the entire building for office use.
A new staircase will be added at the southwest corner of the building. The second floor will overhang the first floor along the front of the building and along part of the north side. An existing curbcut on the north side of the property will be removed. The current 22 parking spaces on the site will be reduced to 17.
Planning commissioners approved modifications to the city’s landscaping requirements for this site. Total construction cost for this project is estimated at $300,000. The office building is located in Ward 4. Collingwood Drive is a street off of West Stadium Boulevard, just south of West Stadium’s convergence with South Maple Road. [.pdf of staff memo]
Land Use: Shell Station Overhaul
The council will be asked to approve the overhaul of a Shell station and a new drive-thru restaurant at 2991 S. State. The site is located at the northeast corner of the East Eisenhower Parkway and South State Street.
The city planning commission recommended approval of the site plan at its March 18, 2014 meeting. The plan calls for demolishing the current one-story convenience store and car wash on this site, which total 2,435 square feet. In its place, the owner – Joseph Kafi of JAK Cubed LLC – would put up a single building with a 1,250-square-foot drive-thru restaurant and 3,000-square-foot convenience store.
The existing gas pump island canopy will remain in place, and two pumps will be relocated to spots under the canopy. According to a staff memo, a single lane drive-thru would be primarily accessed from the existing East Eisenhower Parkway curb cut. Vehicles would move in an east-to-north direction before exiting onto either South State or East Eisenhower.
The drive-thru lane provides stacking for up to nine vehicles and would be screened to the west by the proposed new building. A total of 22 parking spaces are proposed for the site, including eight that are located at the four gas pump islands. The project, located in Ward 4, is estimated to cost $800,000. The business is expected to remain open during construction. The existing convenience store will then be demolished after the new building is finished.
The specific restaurant to be located there is still being negotiated. [.pdf of staff report]
Environmental Commission Appointments
Also on the April 21 agenda are the appointments to the environmental commission for Kirk Westphal, David Stead, and Susan Hutton. All three would be re-appointments.
Westphal is being put forward as the planning commission’s representative to the environmental commission. He currently serves as chair of that commission. The planning commission voted at its Jan. 23, 2014 meeting to recommend Westphal’s reappointment. Westphal did not participate in the vote on that recommendation.
Westphal, a Democrat, is contesting the Ward 2 seat to which Sally Petersen is not seeking re-election – because she is running for mayor. Nancy Kaplan, who’s currently a member of the Ann Arbor District Library board, is running for that same Ward 2 seat.
In 2013, mayor John Hieftje declined to nominate Jeff Hayner to serve on the public art commission, citing a policy against nominating candidates for city council to serve on city boards and commissions. Hayner ran for Ward 1 council against Sabra Briere that year – a race in which Briere prevailed.
However, appointments to the environmental commission are different from most other appointments to boards and commissions – in that the mayor does not nominate them. The appointments are under control of the council as a body.
Past practice as been for the appointments to the environmental commission to mimic the typical two-step mayoral appointment process – with nomination at one meeting followed by confirmation at the next meeting. The council has customarily had the environmental commission appointments on its agenda for initial consideration and postponed a vote until the next meeting.
Stead was originally described in the agenda item as having served on the commission since 2007. That was subsequently corrected. City records in Legistar indicate he was among the first members to be appointed, on Sept. 18, 2000 after the council established the commission in a resolution approved on April 3, 2000. Based on Legistar records, he has served continuously since that initial appointment. Stead also served on the city council representing Ward 5 from April 1993 through November 1994.
Stead is vice president of Resource Recycling Systems. City council minutes show that the council has approved roughly $300,000 in contracts for consulting work by RRS for the city of Ann Arbor between 2007 and 2009.
Hutton was first appointed to the environmental commission in 2011 and is concluding her first three-year term.
4:42 p.m. Now available in Legistar are the staff responses to councilmember questions about agenda items: Agenda Responses 4-21-14. Also available are the slides for the city administrator’s FY 2015 budget presentation.
5:36 p.m. Here’s the spreadsheet referenced in the agenda response items: .pdf of budgets for Phase 1 Ann Arbor Housing Commission Projects
6:10 p.m. Based on councilmember questions posed to staff, deliberations on the outdoor smoking regulations and the sidewalk special assessments could be drawn out. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) posed a series of questions asking about the cost of educational efforts and the cost of posting a no-smoking sign ($70 without a post and $120 with a post). And a question was posed on the use of federal surface transportation funds for one of the sidewalk special assessment projects but not for a previous project. (Both projects were eligible, but funds were not available for the Pontiac Trail project.) A question on the number of terms David Stead has already served on the environmental commission (4 terms) hints at a likely debate over his appointment.
6:13 p.m. Community Television Network tech has installed and tested microphones. Testing includes wiggling them back and forth, which generates a prodigious amount of static.
6:45 p.m. Channel 2, Detroit’s Fox News affiliate, is here to film the possible action on the outdoor smoking regulations. Cameraman is chatting with Cliff Douglas, director of the University of Michigan’s Tobacco Research Network.
6:57 p.m. Chambers are starting to fill with audience and councilmembers.
6:57 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.
7:06 p.m. We’re off.
7:07 p.m. Call to order, moment of silence, pledge of allegiance.
7:07 p.m. Roll call of council. All councilmembers, except for Sabra Briere (Ward 1) are present and correct.
7:08 p.m. Mayor John Hieftje indicates that Briere will be arriving a bit later.
7:08 p.m. Approval of agenda The volunteer of the month proclamation is moved ahead of the budget presentation.
7:08 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved the agenda.
7:09 p.m. INT-2 Volunteer of the Month. This proclamation honors Dorothy Hastings for her volunteer efforts to improve Cloverdale Park.
7:11 p.m. INT-1 City Administrator’s FY 2015 Budget Presentation. For background on the proposed budget see: “FY 2015 Budget Preview: Cops, Trees” [.pdf of April 21, 2014 pre-dated memo from Powers to city council]
7:13 p.m. Powers is reviewing the council’s priority areas. He’s reviewing the work sessions that were held earlier in the year. May 12 will be a work session on public safety and infrastructure.
7:14 p.m. Revenues are improving modestly, Powers says. Property taxes are up 2.4%.
7:15 p.m. State shared revenue from sales taxes is up 4%. Road funding from Act 51 is flat. City millages will remain unchanged from last year.
7:16 p.m. Pension contributions are up 10% and VEBA is up 2%.
7:17 p.m. Here again are the slides Powers is presenting: [.pdf of slides]
7:17 p.m. The budget reflects two major impacts, Powers says: impact of GASB 68 accounting standards; and $1 million for street tree maintenance.
7:18 p.m. Powers is reviewing the historical trend of the number of employees. Y axis on the chart starts at 500, so the trend is somewhat amplified.
7:19 p.m. Powers is reviewing the addition of three police officers and one firefighter. A rental housing inspector will also be added.
7:21 p.m. The $1 million for streets in the public right-of-way is based on the significant deferred maintenance that has accumulated. He’s now reviewing the difference between recurring and one-time revenues. Post-employment health insurance funding is tied to revenue growth, Powers says.
7:22 p.m. He’s about to wrap up, as it’s not meant to be an in-depth review. As much opportunity as councilmembers would like can be provided to go over the budget, he says.
7:22 p.m. Powers notes that this is the second year of a two-year planning cycle, even though the council adopts a budget every year.
7:24 p.m. Because it’s in the second year of a two-year plan, Powers doesn’t think this budget reflects a lot of substantial changes. Powers notes that amendments to the budget can be undertaken after the budget has been adopted to improve the ability of the staff to deliver on city goals.
7:24 p.m. Budget questions will receive answers on a weekly basis through next month when the council must adopt the budget. Powers is now done with his presentation.
7:24 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.] Tonight’s lineup for reserved time speaking includes Kermit Schlansker, Lou Glorie and Alan Haber.
7:28 p.m. Kermit Schlansker is talking about the importance of geometry in attaining sustainability. Big cities have less use of energy per capita than small towns, he says. Geometry is more important than solar or wind. But big cities can’t grow food, he says. Geometry is important in considering travel distances between the places where food is grown and where it’s consumed. People need to learn to use sewage for fertilizer. He describes burying people when they die and planting a fruit tree on top of them: “I’d rather become a useful apple”… than spend the energy on cremation, he says. If we don’t pay attention to the future there will be no future, he concludes.
7:32 p.m. Lou Glorie introduces herself as an Ann Arbor resident. She says that the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority millage request is being framed as a question about public transit and as a moral obligation. But there are legitimate reasons for opposing the millage, she says. She contends that the system is still difficult if not impossible to use, because of the downtown-centric system. The system only makes sense if one assumes that everyone wants to go downtown. Someone on North Maple might want to get to Briarwood, she says. It costs between $7,000 and $15,000 to maintain a car, but they have no other way to get around. The AAATA’s service model is more appropriate for those who live outside Ann Arbor than for residents. It’s not just okay to vote no, she says. It might be the only way to get the kind of transportation system for residents that we need.
7:35 p.m. Alan Haber is talking about his efforts to establish a public part on the top of the Library Lane underground parking structure. When he’d approached the Downtown Development Authority to ask how that land could be used for the public, the DDA had said that’s not their mission, because they focus on economic development, he says. He’s describing his unsuccessful effort to get the DDA to allow an Earth Day event on top of the Library Lane parking structure to take place this year. He calls for a public discussion of the maximum public use of the space. He’s got a list of people in this town who have a lot of money, he says.
7:35 p.m. Communications from council.
7:37 p.m. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) says that the three additional police officers are welcome, but he’s not yet clear about what their responsibilities will be. He holds the door open for amendments to the budget. He also reports that he’s asked Steve Powers to see if the city has resources to do targeted enforcement of additional community standards in campus areas. He’s looking forward to a report that’s due in May on meeting environmental goals.
7:38 p.m. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) announced there will be a meeting on the AAATA millage proposal on April 29 at 7 p.m. at the Earhardt Village club house.
7:41 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) is giving announcements related to Humane Society of Huron Valley animal control services. She says that the Humane Society has given the city invoices that have not yet been paid. She says a meeting has been scheduled to move the ball forward.
Lumm is now talking about the deer population. She calls for developing a strategy for dealing with the problem. She’ll be bringing forward a resolution concerning that. On the budget, she says she’s tried unsuccessfully to add police officers, so she’s glad to see that. She calls on the DDA to come forward with funding for downtown beat cops.
7:41 p.m. Briere has arrived.
7:45 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) reports out on a public meeting on the Jackson Road reconstruction project. He’s talking with MDOT to find out how the pilot project for the lane striping (three lanes with the center lane a turn lane). He’s responding to Lou Glorie’s comments during public commentary. About the AAATA millage, he says that the new service plan includes some cross-town routes that are not part of the hub-and-spoke plan. He notes that because Ann Arbor is not laid out on a grid, it poses a challenge. He stresses the importance of frequency in providing adequate service. He points to proposed Route G as a connection that would help cross-town connections.
7:47 p.m. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) reminds people of the Friends of Dicken Woods fundraiser on April 24. The Friends have taken care of the nature area for 10 years and fund education programs at the neighboring elementary school: dickenwoods.org
7:48 p.m. MC-1 Confirmations. Several confirmations are on tonight’s agenda – of nominations that were made at the council’s April 7, 2014 meeting:
- Airport Advisory Committee: Mary Karen McClellan (filling a vacancy, for a term ending May 30, 2016);
- Ann Arbor Housing Commission: Gwenyth Hayes (serving out rest of term for Gloria Black as a residents’ representative, through May 4, 2015) and Daniel Lee (re-appointment, for a term ending May 6, 2019);
- Design Review Board: Shannan Gibb-Randall (serving out rest of term for Mary Jucari, through May 30, 2015);
- Employees Retirement Systems Board of Trustees: Mark Heusel (re-appointment for a term through May 2, 2017);
- Public Market Advisory Commission: David Santacroce (re-appointment for a term through May 30, 2017).
7:49 p.m. Briere notes that Santacroce has celebrated the birth of his second child today. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) congratulates Santacroce, and gets clarification that Santacroce also serves on the park advisory commission.
7:50 p.m. Outcome: The appointments are all confirmed.
7:50 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. Four public hearings are scheduled: (1) Outdoor smoking ordinance [for additional background, see Smoking above]; (2) Concordia University gym expansion [for additional background, see Land Use: Concordia University Gym Expansion above]; (3) Collingwood office building expansion [for additional background, see Land Use: Collingwood Office Building above]; and (4) State Street Shell station site plan [for additional background, see Land Use: Shell Station Overhaul above].
7:50 p.m. PH-1 Outdoor Smoking Ordinance.
7:53 p.m. Leon Bryson, who’s running for Ward 5 council, is addressing the council. He’s speaking in support of the ordinance that is being proposed by Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) [against whom he's running]. There are two main components of this ordinance: places where smoking would be banned; and the enforcement. The 20-foot distance is reasonable, he says. The city administrator is given a great amount of authority to set areas for non-smoking in public parks. It’s not his expectation that the city administrator would ban smoking in all areas of all city parks. Based on the discussion at the last council meeting, Bryson does not think enforcement will be a problem. He does not expect that the ordinance will be enforced in a way that has a disparate impact on the homeless. He thanks Warpehoski for his work.
7:56 p.m. Jeff Hayner asks the council to modify the ordinance in light of another problem: chewing gum. It’s not a problem unique to Ann Arbor. In Great Britain, they spent $230 million on removal of chewing gum, he says. He suggests that we look to Singapore as a model, which restricted the trade and use of chewing gum. Smuggling fines can go up to $3,000 or a beating with a bamboo cane. So he asks for the ordinance to be modified to include a fine for littering of cigarette butts and a ban on chewing gum.
8:01 p.m. Seth Best rises to speak against the ordinance because he thinks it will have a disparate impact on the homeless, the poor and the LGBT community. He notes that it’s legal to purchase cigarettes. He says there are more important things to worry about that are more worthy of the council’s time. Going after smokers is a way to push those who are poor and the homeless further away. He thanks the council for modifying the original proposal to include community service instead of a fine.
8:02 p.m. Colin Yee is addressing the council as a graduate student in public health in support of the ordinance. As a student over the last six years, he’s noticed a decline in smokers as a result of a tobacco-free campus initiative. There’s less of a haze walking across the Diag, he says. The ordinance further reduces the social acceptability of smoking and will reduce the exposure of young people to second hand smoke. It’s time to walk the walk and show why we are the leaders and the best, he says.
8:05 p.m. Julie Grand, who’s running for Ward 3 council, speaks in support of the ordinance. She has passed out some best practices for health policy. This policy has to balance individual liberty with public good. The benefits outweigh the burden on individual liberty, she says. She’ll be able to point to a sign next to a swingset and ask someone to refrain from smoking. Do we want high school students to be standing at a bus stop near smokers, she asks? [Grand is a lecturer in public health at University of Michigan, Dearborn]. She points to the fact that enforcement of the ban in restaurants has not been problematic.
8:08 p.m. Cliff Douglas thanks the council for its 8-3 vote on first reading at its previous meeting. The support that the council is hearing tonight is typical of public sentiment, he says. These ordinances save lives, he says, as they keep smoke away from infants. These ordinances also reduce litter from cigarettes, he says. No-smoking rules will join other, familiar rules for public parks, like no alcohol, and no dogs offleash. He’s now reading a letter from the manager of the People’s Food Co-op who contend with smokers at Sculpture Plaza.
8:09 p.m. Channel 2 cameraman unhooks TV microphone from the podium.
8:09 p.m. PH-2 Concordia University gymnasium addition. No one speaks at this public hearing.
8:10 p.m. PH-3 278-280 Collingwood site plan. No one speaks at this public hearing.
8:10 p.m. PH-4 State Street Shell station/drive-thru. No one speaks at this public hearing.
8:10 p.m. Minutes of previous meeting. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the minutes of the previous meeting.
8:10 p.m. 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:
- CA-1 Approve a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the AAHC for North Maple Estates, North Maple Duplexes, Lower Platt, Broadway, and White/State/Henry Apartments. [For additional background, see AAHC: PILOT above]
- CA-2 Approve AAHC site plan and zoning fee waiver request Maple and Platt. [For additional background, see AAHC: 50% Waiver above]
- CA-3 Award a Contract to DLZ Michigan, Inc. to design repairs to the wastewater treatment plant access bridge ($32,752).
- CA-4 Resolution No. 2: Newport sidewalk special assessment. [For additional background, see Sidewalks above]
- CA-5 Resolution No. 3: Establish a public hearing for the Newport sidewalk special assessment project
- CA-6 Approve an emergency increase to the Osburn Industries Purchase Order for Aggregate Materials ($36,750).
- CA-7 Approve street closing for the NTI Block Party: July 30, 2014.
- CA-8 Approve street closing for the 2014 Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park (June 9 through July 9, 2014).
- CA-9 Approve street closings for the 2014 Rolling Sculpture Car Show (Friday, July 11, 2014).
8:11 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Sabra Briere pulls out CA-1 and CA-2.
8:11 p.m. CA-1 Approve a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the AAHC for North Maple Estates, North Maple Duplexes, Lower Platt, Broadway, and White/State/Henry Apartments.
8:13 p.m. Briere says she wanted to pull this out because it’s an example of every creative effort that the city can find to help the AAHC. She commends staff for being creative in solving the problem.
8:13 p.m. Outcome: The council approved CA-1.
8:13 p.m. CA-2 Approve AAHC site plan and zoning fee waiver request Maple and Platt. Briere says this is another example of creativity to help the AAHC.
8:13 p.m. Outcome: The council approved CA-2.
8:14 p.m. Outcome: The council now completed its approval of all items on the consent agenda.
8:14 p.m. B-1 Outdoor Smoking Ordinance. This is the final approval of a new law regulating smoking in some outdoor locations. It was given initial approval by the council on April 7. The law would regulate smoking outside of public buildings and also potentially in areas of some city parks. Made punishable under the proposed ordinance through a $50 civil fine would be smoking within 20 feet of: (1) bus stops; (2) entrances, windows and ventilation systems of the Blake Transit Center; and (3) entrances, windows and ventilation systems any city-owned building. Community service could be ordered instead of the payment of a fine. The ordinance would also authorize the city administrator to have signs posted designating certain parks or portions of parks as off limits for outdoor smoking, and to increase the distance from entrances to city buildings where outdoor smoking is prohibited. Where no signs are posted noting the smoking prohibition, a citation could be issued only if someone doesn’t stop smoking immediately when asked to stop. [For additional background, see Smoking above]
8:15 p.m. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) is reviewing some amendments that have been made. The buffer around bus stops has been reduced to 10 feet, after consultation with AAATA. And the language describing the non-smoking zone around Blake Transit Center has been tweaked.
8:18 p.m. Warpehoski is addressing the argument based on disparate impact, saying that it’s a public health impact that can have a positive effect on lower-income populations. He reminds people that the fine is only levied if they fail to stop smoking when asked to do so by a police officer.
8:19 p.m. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) is proposing that the fine be reduced from $50 to $25. It’s greater than the marijuana possession fine of $25. He felt that smoking a cigarette should be on par with that. The amendment is accepted as friendly by Warpehoski.
8:21 p.m. Kunselman says he’s going to support the ordinance, thanking Warpehoski for bringing forward some very convincing speakers at the last council meeting. On a personal note, his stepdad passed away over the weekend – and he was a life-long smoker, so Kunselman felt there was nothing he could do except vote for the ordinance.
8:24 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) is reviewing the issue of police resources. She says that if the ordinance is self-enforcing, then she wonders why there needs to be police enforcement. Any time a police officer spends on this is time that could be spent on more important issues, she says. Lumm says she lives next to a large park and says she sometimes quips that it’s the city’s largest off-leash dog park – because the city doesn’t have the means to enforce that or many other issues. She doesn’t think the decision on areas for non-smoking in parks should be left to the city administrator. Lumm notes that she’s a staunch non-smoker – and you can ask her husband what happens when he lights up a cigar.
8:28 p.m. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) thanks Kunselman for the amendment. Not making it punitive is a step in the right direction. He’s against diverting police resources to a public health issue. These are issues that are best addressed through education, he says. This is fraught with potential for conflict – because a smoker who is asked to stop smoking by a civilian would know that a police officer could not possibly arrive soon enough to enforce the ordinance. Banning smoking, for example, in Sculpture Plaza, will simply move smokers to other locations. He ventures that the cost of placing signs will be greater than the cost that was given by the city administrator [$70 without a pole, $120 with a pole].
8:29 p.m. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) says he’ll support the ordinance, because it’s reasonable, prudent and measured. It’s public health problem and an environmental problem, he says, that is being solved. This provides non-smokers with the tools to educate smokers, he says.
8:29 p.m. Taylor says this will help create a set of social norms that says that smoking is not acceptable in these locations.
8:31 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) said after Sunday night caucus the smoker’s corner was set up right next to the ventilation system on the Ann Street side of city hall. She also noticed the litter of cigarette butts. She appreciated the concern of councilmembers who were concerned that police would be required to run hither and yon to monitor smokers. Briere allows that Jane Lumm (Ward 2) is right that there are not enough resources to monitor other issues – like offleash dogs.
8:34 p.m. Briere is talking about problems with enforcing the leash laws. She says the penalty for this ordinance is small. Mothers don’t take their children to a park near her house until they spend time picking up cigarette butts, because they don’t want their children to eat cigarette butts. We should think about those people who want to use the city’s parks and feel like they’re being crowded out of the parks by smokers.
8:36 p.m. Margie Teall (Ward 4) says she’s supported this from the beginning. She thanks Warpehoski for putting a lot of time and thought into it. As Julie Grand suggested, Teall thinks it might help shift social norms.
8:39 p.m. Mayor John Hieftje says he will support this. He doesn’t have a concern about the policing of this –because 900 other communities aren’t finding their police forces are tied up dealing with smokers.
8:39 p.m. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) says that everything that can be said has already been said. He thanks Warpehoski for revising the punitive parts of the original proposal. When someone sits near him and is smoking, he has to move, Anglin says.
8:39 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give the outdoor smoking ordinance final approval, over dissent from Eaton and Lumm.
8:39 p.m. DC-1 Environmental Commission appointments. Nominations to the environmental commission are the council’s privilege to make, not the mayor’s. On tonight’s agenda are three re-appointments: Kirk Westphal as the planning commission’s recommended appointment as that group’s representative on the environmental commission; David Stead, who’s served on the environmental commission since it was established in 2000; and Susan Hutton who’s completed her first three-year term. [For additional background, see Environmental Commission Appointments above]
8:40 p.m. Briere moves to postpone, as it’s customary to do so for EC appointments.
8:40 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone consideration of the EC appointments.
8:40 p.m. DB-1 Site Plan: Concordia University Gymnasium Addition This item approves a site plan for the expansion of the gym at Concordia University. The plan also includes reconfiguring nearby parking lots and stormwater management features on the 187-acre site at 4090 Geddes Road, just west of US-23 and north of the Huron River. The city planning commission recommended approval of the site plan at its March 4, 2014 meeting. [For additional background, see Land Use: Concordia University Gym Expansion above]
8:40 p.m. Lumm is reading aloud a description of the project.
8:41 p.m. Lumm thanks the CEO of Concordia for answering all her questions.
8:43 p.m. Petersen also thanks the CEO of Concordia.
8:43 p.m. Lumm is concurring with Petersen’s thanks. Lumm said that she’d heard from people who were interested in what was going on across the street from Concordia. Longer term, they’re thinking about building a football stadium. No site plan has been submitted to the city on that, she says.
8:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the Concordia University gym expansion site plan.
8:43 p.m. DB-2 Site Plan: 278-280 Collingwood. This item approves a site plan that expands an office building at 278-280 Collingwood. The site plan calls for removing the existing second floor on the east side of the office building and constructing a 2,451-square-foot second floor over the entire building for office use. [For additional background, see Land Use: Collingwood Office Building above]
8:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the Collingwood site plan.
8:43 p.m. DB-3 Site Plan: State Street Shell station/drive-thru restaurant. The council is being asked to approve the overhaul of a Shell station and a new drive-thru restaurant at 2991 S. State. The site is located at the northeast corner of the East Eisenhower Parkway and South State Street. [For additional background, see Land Use: Shell Station Overhaul above]
8:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the Shell station site plan.
8:43 p.m. DS-1 Approve transfer of $600,000 from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. At its March 3, 2014 meeting, the council had directed the city administrator to prepare a budget resolution that would allocate $600,000 from the city’s affordable housing trust fund to support the AAHC’s plan to renovate its properties. That allocation was to be contingent on the closing of the sale of the former Y lot to Dennis Dahlmann, as the net proceeds of that sale are to be deposited into the city’s affordable housing trust fund. The sale of the property closed on April 2. So on tonight’s meeting agenda is the resolution the council had directed the city administrator to prepare.
8:44 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the $600,000 transfer.
8:44 p.m. DS-2 Accept easement for sanitary sewer. This would accept an easement for a sanitary sewer from Subaru Research and Development Inc. at 3995 Research Park Dr.
8:45 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the easement.
8:45 p.m. DS-3 Approve agreement with Black and Veatch for the water treatment plant alternatives analysis project ($220,339). According to the staff memo accompanying this item, the goal of the water treatment plant alternatives analysis project is “to evaluate the need and feasibility for addressing several challenges facing the water treatment plant, including the replacement of the Plant 1 treatment basins.” The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) evaluates all public water system every three years. And the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (Act 399) requires all public water systems to complete a master plan every so often. Included in the 2013 MDEQ evaluation and the city’s own 2006 master plan are recommendations that the treatment basins be modified or replaced. The memo describes the facilities as follows: “The basins were built in 1938, are inefficient, do not meet current recommended design standards, and have exceeded their useful life. These basins provide reliability on average days and capacity during peak demand periods.”
8:48 p.m. Anglin has asked public area administrator Craig Hupy to come to the podium to answer questions. Anglin says that it appears the scope of work will allow the staff to make some decisions. He asks if Hupy would be considering delivering water on the west side of the city for less money. No, says Hupy. This project would evaluate the options – from replacing in-kind at that location, to purchasing wholesale from elsewhere. Anglin wants to know the timeline. Hupy says the design process would come in FY 2017 with construction in FY 2018 or FY 2019. Anglin ventures that this project will have huge implications for the city.
8:48 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the agreement with Black and Veatch for the water treatment plant alternatives analysis project.
8:48 p.m. DS-4 Award contract to Evergreen Civil LLC ($616,806) for the Yellowstone water main replacement project. This project will replace the existing water main with about 1,700 feet of new 8-inch water main. The existing water main on Yellowstone Drive, bounded by Bluett Drive on both ends, had experienced frequent breaks and is in poor condition, according to the staff memo accompanying this resolution.
8:50 p.m. Lumm says that residents could not be happier. This main has had multiple breaks, she says. She’s happy the construction will start in May and be done in July. The public meeting at Clague Middle School was helpful, Lumm says. She calls it great customer service by the staff.
8:50 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to award the contract to Evergreen Civil LLC ($616,806) for the Yellowstone water main replacement project.
8:50 p.m. DS-5 Scio Church sidewalk: Approve the Scio Church and Barton sidewalks project appropriation of funds from the general fund ($177,100). The council is being asked to approve $177,100 of city funds for the construction of a Scio Church sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive. Like the Scio Church sidewalk project, the Barton Drive sidewalk will be special assessed – with the associated resolutions to be presented to the council at a future meeting. [For additional background, see Sidewalks above.]
8:54 p.m. Teall is thanking Peter Houk for his advocacy on the Scio Church sidewalk, which began several years ago. Eaton echoes Teall’s sentiments, saying that it will be an important addition. The link to the Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor District Library will be important, he says.
8:55 p.m. Kailasapathy says she and Briere had attended a lot of neighborhood meetings on this issue. Roads, traffic calming, and sidewalk gaps seem to be topics that are of great concern for residents, she says. So this is a very good move to help make the city’s parks more accessible to children.
8:57 p.m. Kunselman appreciates the financing that’s been used, and goes as far as to propose that the special assessments be eliminated. He wants to take that money out of the general fund and make it a city-funded project. Hieftje proposes a short recess to work out that language.
8:57 p.m. We are in recess.
9:08 p.m. We’re back.
9:09 p.m. Kunselman says that in the future he wants to make sure that 80% of the funding is provided through non-special assessed funds. But he’ll support this resolution at this time.
9:09 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the appropriation of funds from the general fund for the Scio Church and Barton Road sidewalk projects.
9:10 p.m. DS-6 Scio Church sidewalk: Resolution No. 2 Special Assessment ($1,626). This is the second in a series of resolutions necessary for a special assessment, directing the setting of the assessment roll. For the Scio Church Road sidewalk project, the total cost is expected to be $365,100. Of that, about $164,000 will be paid from a Federal Surface Transportation grant. The remaining $201,100 will be paid out of the general fund and by a special assessment of just $1,626.
9:11 p.m. Kunselman asks that this be postponed. The amount to be special assessed isn’t worth the amount that will be special assessed, he says. Eaton seconds.
9:11 p.m. Hupy indicates that the second meeting in May would be a good meeting to which to postpone, because the Barton Drive special assessment could then be brought forward at the same time.
9:14 p.m. Hieftje says that he doesn’t want to set a precedent – given the number of people who have needed to pay a special assessment. Hieftje says he’ll support the postponement, but says that the issue needs a larger discussion. Kailasapathy notes that general funds are limited, and she’s afraid that a commitment to using general funds might stall the process of filling sidewalk gaps.
Briere says there’s an issue of legal equity. The council just earlier in the evening approved the special assessment for Newport’s sidewalk. She notes that property owners who weren’t legally required to contribute had stepped forward and volunteered. Those residents will feel that the city has really “offended” them if the city pays for other projects out of the general fund.
9:17 p.m. Lumm agrees with Briere and Kailasapathy. “If we do this here, we gotta do it citywide,” she says. The history of the way these improvements have been done needs to be recognized, Lumm says. Hieftje calls Hupy to the podium. He wants to know if the project would be delayed if this is postponed until the second meeting in May.
9:18 p.m. Kailasapathy ventures that there could be a de minimis rule that if the total amount is less than $1,000 then the city would pay.
9:20 p.m. Kunselman asks why the city is so gung ho about eliminating sidewalk gaps that have been there for decades. He calls it “ridiculous” that the city is setting up a special assessment for a little more than $1,000. In his neighborhood, there’d been a project that was originally planned to include sidewalks and the plan was to special assess 100% of the cost. The result was that no sidewalks accompanied the project, because neighbors objected.
9:20 p.m. Hieftje notes that everyone seems inclined to postpone.
9:21 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone the setting of the assessment roll for the Scio Church sidewalk project until the second meeting in May.
9:21 p.m. DS-7 Scio Church sidewalk: Resolution No. 3 Set public hearing. This is the third in a series of resolutions required for a special assessment. The public hearing is being set for May 5, 2014, the council’s first meeting in May.
9:21 p.m. Kunselman also wants to postpone this one.
9:21 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted postpone the setting of the public hearing on the Scio Church sidewalk project special assessment.
9:22 p.m. Communications from council. Lumm is asking that an LDFA issue come to the council at its next meeting, not May 19.
9:22 p.m. Clerk’s report of communications, petitions and referrals. Outcome: The council has approved the clerk’s report.
9:22 p.m. Public comment. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
9:22 p.m. No one rises to speak.
9:22 p.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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