Rules for Environmental Commish Get Final OK

An amendment to the ordinance establishing the city’s environmental commission (EC) has been given final approval by the Ann Arbor city council. Action came at the council’s July 21, 2014 meeting. Initial approval was given on July 7, 2014.

The staff memo accompanying the ordinance changes summarizes them as follows. The ordinance amendment:

  • clarifies that the councilmembers currently serving on the environmental commission nominate persons for “at-large” appointments, which are then approved by council resolution;
  • clarifies that the planning commission, park advisory commission, and energy commission each designate a representative to the environmental commission without council approval and for a one-year term;
  • clarifies that the 3-year terms should be equally staggered;
  • removes references to the Leslie Science Center Advisory Board, which no longer exists;
  • requires the city administrator or the designated support staff of the environmental commission to notify council of vacancies – previously this was delegated to the clerk’s office, which does not always have immediate knowledge of vacancies;
  • contains a few minor, non-substantive corrections and clarifications.

The EC is one of the few boards or commissions in the city for which the mayor does not make nominations. The more familiar procedure – for most boards and commissions – includes a mayoral nomination at one council meeting, followed by the confirmation vote of the council at a subsequent meeting.

In the past, the council has mimicked this procedure for the EC by having some councilmember put a resolution on the agenda appointing a member to the EC, and then postponing the resolution until the next meeting. So the ordinance revisions include clarification that the nominations put forward by the council as a body to the EC are to be made by the two councilmembers who serve as the council’s representatives to the EC.

Besides two slots for council representatives, the EC includes positions for members of the planning commission, park advisory commission, and energy commission. The ordinance revision that was given final approval on July 21 makes clear that those groups make their appointments to the EC without further city council approval.

This specific revision comes after the planning commission had selected Kirk Westphal from its membership to serve on the EC earlier this year. Some councilmembers voted against his confirmation, when the council was asked to confirm his selection two months ago. For background on that vote, see “Hutton, Westphal Reappointed to EC.”

Mark Clevey’s name had been scheduled to be put before the council on July 7 to be confirmed as a member of the EC, but was withdrawn – because he is the selection by the energy commission to represent that commission on the EC. After enactment, the energy commission appointment to EC (like that of other boards and commissions to the EC) will be for one year and will not need city council approval.

In other business related to boards and commissions at its July 21 meeting, the council amended a resolution from last year that placed a member of the city council on the commission on disability issues.

The amendment clarifies that the city council representative will be appointed for a one-year term annually. Currently the council’s representative to the commission on disability issues is Sally Petersen (Ward 2).

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.