The Ann Arbor Chronicle » Civic News Ticker it's like being there Wed, 26 Nov 2014 18:59:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Live Audio: AAPS Candidate Forum Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:25:04 +0000 Chronicle Staff As part of its fall kickoff to be held on Oct. 20, 2014 at Haisley Elementary School, the PTO Council is hosting a forum for Ann Arbor Public School board candidates. Ten candidates will appear on the ballot for the four positions. Terms are four years.

Editor of the now-defunct Chronicle Dave Askins will be moderating the forum.

The forum is expected to begin around 7:15 p.m. and will last roughly 90 minutes. Our intent is to offer streaming live audio with the player below. The following day, we expect to be able to post .mp3 files for on-demand listening.

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Ann Arbor LDFA Gets OK Toward Extension Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:47:08 +0000 Chronicle Staff A 15-year extension of Ann Arbor’s local development finance authority (LDFA) has taken another step forward in action taken by the city council on Sept. 2.

The extension – which would still need approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – depends on establishing a relationship between the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone and some other “satellite” LDFA. So the Sept. 2 resolution designates Adrian/Tecumseh as that satellite and approves an agreement with Adrian/Tecumseh.

The council’s vote was 7-4 over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). It followed a discussion that lasted over an hour, with questions from councilmembers fielded by city CFO Tom Crawford and LDFA board members Eric Jacobsen and Stephen Rapundalo, a former city councilmember.

The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti LDFA – branded as one of about a dozen LDFA SmartZones statewide – is funded through capture of public school operating millages within the geographic areas of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti downtown development authority districts. However, no capture is made of the Ypsilanti school taxes.

The LDFA contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK to operate a business accelerator, which is meant to move start-up companies in the tech and biosciences sectors more quickly to a stage in their development when they are generating revenue from paying customers and adding jobs.

The city contracts separately with Ann Arbor SPARK for general business attraction and retention services. Also at its Sept. 2 meeting, the council voted to take SPARK’s $75,000 annual contract up off the table and consider it again, having tabled it three months ago. That contract won approval from the council.

The council’s Sept. 2 resolution on the LDFA extension specified the following as findings:

  1. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides unique characteristics and specialties through its public and private resources including the location of Adrian College, Siena Heights University and Jackson College within its TIF District and the opportunities for research partnerships and student/young entrepreneur involvement. In addition partnership with another multi-jurisdictional LDFA provides opportunities for shared experiences.
  2. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides regional cooperation and collaboration benefits to the LDFA and the Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti with joint focuses on technology (including expanding green technologies and agricultural technology) and entrepreneurial services.
  3. That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides value and support to the LDFA by strengthening existing collaboratives, making available a new/expanded technical assistance and support through its Innovation Center at Adrian College, and agricultural and manufacturing resources.

In connection with the extension, revisions to the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone TIF (tax increment financing) plan and development plan are being undertaken. Drafts of revisions are attached to the council’s Sept. 2 agenda item. Revisions appear to address concerns that have been raised about the current arrangement – to some extent by Ann Arbor city councilmembers.

Those concerns include the fact that TIF is not currently allowed to be spent outside the TIF district in the city of Ann Arbor; further, no TIF funds can currently be expended in Ypsilanti – inside or outside its TIF district – because no actual tax capture revenue is generated for the LDFA in that area. The revisions would allow TIF revenue to be expended anywhere in the entire cities of Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.

In addition, the revisions specify in greater detail that TIF revenue can be used to pay for high-speed communications infrastructure. Specifically mentioned as eligible expenditures is the “installation of technology related infrastructure assets, i.e. fiber lines, nodes, or work spaces.”

The LDFA extension comes in the context of lingering questions about the impact on school funding of the LDFA tax capture. In FY 2013, the total amount captured by the Ann Arbor SmartZone LDFA was $1,546,577, and the current fiscal year forecast is for $2,017,835. About the same amount is forecast for FY 2015. The majority of councilmembers were convinced that the mechanism by which the state of Michigan funds public education means that the LDFA tax capture has no negative impact on  local schools funding.

Separate from the LDFA business acceleration contract with Ann Arbor SPARK, the city of Ann Arbor has historically engaged SPARK for business attraction and retention services. However, this year the $75,000 annual contract with SPARK was tabled by the council – in a vote taken at the council’s June 16, 2014 meeting.

It was taken back up off the table for consideration at the Sept. 2, 2014 meeting and approved on a 9-2 vote over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5)

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

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AAHC Gets Council Support for Renovations Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:44:01 +0000 Chronicle Staff The Ann Arbor housing commission’s plan to renovate its properties has been given support by the Ann Arbor city council in three separate actions taken at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting.

The council approved a $729,879 transfer from the affordable housing trust fund to the AAHC to support the “West Arbor” portion of the AAHC’s renovation plan. And the council also took two actions in specific support of the West Arbor portion of the plan. The council gave initial support to a zoning revision for a project at 3451 Platt Road, which will entail demolishing four 5-bedroom units – because of their current placement in the floodplain – and constructing 32 townhomes and a community center. A third council action on Sept. 2 was approval of a site plan for North Maple Estates, which currently offers 19 units. All those units will be demolished and replaced with 42 townhomes.

The $729,879 transfer from the affordable housing trust fund would leave a $850,920 balance in the trust fund. The trust fund’s current balance stems largely from the council’s decision late last year – on Dec. 16, 2013 – to deposit the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot into the trust fund.

By way of background, in 2012 the city was accepted into a new rental assistance demonstration program, known as RAD, offered by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program allows residents in selected housing units to receive rental assistance through long-term Section 8 subsidy vouchers that are tied to the buildings, rather than individuals. The RAD program also enables entities like the AAHC to partner with private-sector developers on housing projects – something the AAHC couldn’t previously do. The Ann Arbor city council gave necessary approvals in connection with the RAD program at its June 3, 2013 meeting. Financing for the RAD program is primarily through low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC).

According to the memo accompanying this item, out of the $16,564,370 project budget for West Arbor, low-income housing tax credits and permanent debt are expected to cover $14,091,491. That leaves a gap of $1,472,879. The AAHC has secured $50,000 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and $293,000 from a Community Challenge Planning Grant. So the AAHC has requested up to $729,879 in capital funding support from the Ann Arbor housing trust fund for the West Arbor portion of the RAD conversion.

The initial approval given by the council for the Lower Platt project is from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). Final approval of the zoning, as well as the site plan approval, will come before the council at a subsequent meeting, probably in October.

The planning commission had sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Road property to the city council with a recommendation of approval – in a vote taken at its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site’s location in the floodplain and stormwater management. The postponement was supposed to allow time to address staff concerns regarding the impact on natural features.

Zoning and site plan approval must ultimately be given by the city council. However, the zoning approval will require two votes by the council at two separate meetings – because changes to the zoning code are actually changes to a city ordinance. So the site plan’s delay would not necessarily delay the project, as long as the site plan is put in front of the council for consideration by the time the council takes a second vote on the rezoning.

The site includes a property currently owned by AAHC, as well as an adjacent parcel that’s being purchased by the city on behalf of AAHC.

The project calls for demolishing four single-family homes and one two-family building, and constructing a 32-unit apartment complex with five buildings, 61 parking spaces, a playground, and a community building. The new apartments will include: 8 one-bedroom units; 12 two-bedroom units; 6 three-bedroom units; 2 four-bedroom units; and 4 five-bedroom units.

Two of the proposed buildings would be in the floodplain, which raised concerns from city staff. The AAHC is working to address those concerns – possibly by eliminating or reducing the number of buildings in the floodplain. It had been expected that the AAHC could address the issues raised by city staff so that the site plan could return to the planning commission at its Aug. 19 meeting – but that didn’t happen. Nor is it on the planning commission’s Sept. 3 agenda. [.pdf of planning staff report] [.pdf of June 28, 2014 citizen participation meeting report]

The AAHC Platt Road project is different from a Washtenaw County-owned property at 2260 and 2270 Platt Road, the former location of the county’s juvenile center. That site is also being considered for affordable housing.

Other AAHC-related action by the council on Sept. 2 included site plan approval for North Maple Estates. It calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes at the public housing complex on North Maple and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms.

North Maple Estates, Ann Arbor housing commission, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of North Maple Estates site, outlined in green.

The rezoning of the 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road already has been given final approval by the city council at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning was changed from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district).

The Ann Arbor planning commission had recommended the zoning and site plan for approval at its meeting on June 17, 2014. The council gave initial approval of the rezoning at its July 7, 2014 meeting.

The site is on the west side of North Maple, between Dexter Avenue and Hollywood Drive. [.pdf of staff report]

The units in the eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex are proposed to have a total of 138 bedrooms. The units range in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms.

The project will include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings will be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There would be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive.

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

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Gift of Life Expansion Gets Final OKs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:36:44 +0000 Chronicle Staff At its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive in the mid-southern part of Ann Arbor. The rezoning will change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). At the same meeting, the council approved the site plan for the project.

Gift of Life Michigan, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of Gift of Life Michigan site.

The proposal calls for building a three-story, 40,786-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 3161 and 3169 Research Park Drive, which are owned and occupied by the nonprofit. According to a staff report, the additional space will accommodate offices, a special events auditorium and “organ procurement suites.” The nonprofit’s website states that the Gift of Life is Michigan’s only federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. Cost of the expansion project will be $10.5 million.

The city planning commission had recommended approval of the rezoning at its July 1, 2014 meeting. City council action to give initial approval of the site plan came at its meeting on Aug. 7.

The project will reduce the four existing curb cuts to Research Park Drive to three, connecting one of the loop driveways to an existing driveway at the east end of the site. A parking lot at the back of the site will be expanded by 38 parking spaces. Two alternate vehicle fueling stations are proposed in parking spaces near the main entry, with the driveway at the center of the site providing access for ambulances. A new shipping and receiving facility will be located on the northeast corner of the site.

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

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Ann Arbor Sets Stage for Taxicab Rate Hike Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:34:19 +0000 Chronicle Staff Even though the Ann Arbor city council rejected one proposed change to its taxicab ordinance at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting – which would have regulated all drivers for hire in the city – initial approval was given at that meeting to another change in the part of the ordinance that regulates rates. And the council gave final approval of that ordinance change at its Sept 2, 2014 meeting.

The change establishes certain parameters to mitigate possible negative consequences to the setting of a very high maximum allowable taxicab rate, under which taxicab companies might eventually compete. Those parameters include a requirement that a taxicab company commit to a single rate annually and that the rate be advertised in a vehicle with signage in letters one-inch tall. New, higher rates have not yet been approved by the council.

The vote by the taxicab board to recommend the ordinance change came at its July 24, 2014 meeting.

These issues were also discussed at three monthly meetings of the taxicab board prior to that, on April 23, 2014, May 22, 2014 and June 26, 2014. Representatives of the taxicab industry at those meetings advocated for the establishment of a very high maximum – not tied to gas and insurance prices. They feel it’s one mechanism that would allow them to compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

The proposal to regulate all drivers for hire, which the council rejected, was also intended in part to allow taxicab companies to compete with Uber and Lyft on an even playing field. Taxicab drivers are already regulated by the city.

Regarding fare regulation, the city’s current structure already allows for the establishing of a maximum rate to be adopted by the city council. Currently the maximum rate in Ann Arbor is $3 to get in, $2.50 per mile, and 40 cents per minute waiting time. Those maximum rates were last adjusted upwards three years ago, on May 16, 2011, in response to gas prices that had nudged past $4 per gallon. At that time, the taxicab board indicated it did not anticipate considering another rate change until the gas prices were over $5 for at least two consecutive months.

So the taxicab board’s thinking is not being driven by gas prices, which are currently between $3.75 and $4 in the Ann Arbor area. Instead, a possible increase in allowable fares is based on concern that the taxicab industry in Ann Arbor might not be able to survive unless taxis are allowed to charge more.

At its Aug. 28, 2014 meeting, taxicab board members recommended the following maximum rate schedule for eventual consideration by the council, which could appear on the council’s agenda as soon as Sept. 15: $10 to get in, $5 per mile and 40 cents per minute waiting time. In addition, a $1 surcharge could be applied for each passenger over three passengers.

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves as the city council’s representative to the taxicab board – asked rhetorically if the taxicab board should be disbanded. At its Aug. 28 meeting, taxicab board chair Michael Benson announced that he’d received an email from board member Eric Sturgis, who indicated that he would be resigning from the board – because he’s moving to Jackson, Mich. It has historically been difficult to find residents willing to serve on the taxicab board.

On Sept. 2, eight people – including Benson and LuAnne Bullington, another taxicab board member – spoke during a public hearing on the ordinance change.

Other Sept. 2 action related to the topic of hired rides was a vote by city council that directed the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. The discussion on that item lasted about 45 minutes, resulting in approval on an 8-3 vote, over dissent from Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

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

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Ann Arbor to Pursue Deals with Uber, Lyft Wed, 03 Sep 2014 03:40:04 +0000 Chronicle Staff The Ann Arbor city council has directed city administrator Steve Powers to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. The council’s action came at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting, after a discussion that lasted about 45 minutes.

The council’s vote on the question was 8-3 over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

The resolution sets the second meeting in October – Oct. 20, 2014 – as the date on which Powers is to return to the council with operating agreements to be approved by the city council.

The council’s Sept. 2 action comes after it rejected an ordinance change on Aug. 18, 2014 that would have required all drivers for hire to be registered with the city, to have commercial plates on their vehicles, and to maintain insurance commensurate with commercial plates. That rejected change had been recommended by the city’s taxicab board.

The absence of commercial plates on a vehicle that is observed being used for picking up or dropping off passengers would have provided a reason for a traffic stop by Ann Arbor police. At the taxicab board meetings over the last few months, representatives of the taxicab industry argued that the state statute regulating limousines already gives the city the ability to enforce against Uber and Lyft drivers.

At the taxicab board’s Aug. 28 meeting, representatives of the taxicab industry lamented the fact that they had not attended the council’s Aug. 18 meeting to advocate for regulating all drivers for hire through a city ordinance. Representatives of Uber and Lyft numbered over 50 people at the council meeting, some of whom addressed the council during public commentary time.

Ward 3 city councilmember and taxicab board member Stephen Kunselman indicated at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting that there might be a possibility that one of the five councilmembers who voted against the ordinance at first reading on Aug. 18 might bring it back for reconsideration.

On Aug. 18, the 5-5 vote totaling 10 on the 11-member body stemmed from the absence of Margie Teall (Ward 4). Voting for the regulation of all drivers for hire were Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Voting against the change were mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, during deliberations on the rejected ordinance change, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated that she’d concluded as early as April of this year that an operating agreement – instead of a local ordinance – would be the right approach. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) indicated he had been working with Briere to come up with that kind of approach.

The elements to be included in the operating agreement were specified in an attachment to the resolution read originally as follows:

Operating agreement principles include:

  • Company will provide a minimum of $1M in liability insurance coverage for the driver, vehicle and passengers and any other injured parties, from the moment a driver is linked with a passenger to the moment the passenger releases the vehicle.
  • Company will conduct the following at no cost to the city: background checks for each driver-applicant prior to allowing their participation. This background check will include a criminal background check, including a check for multiple relevant jurisdictions; a review of the applicant’s driving record; a mechanical inspection of the vehicle by a licensed inspector. The results of this data collection will be made available to the City for any driver / vehicle combination approved for participation in the company.
  • Company will not allow participation by a driver / vehicle combination if the driver has any felony conviction; any conviction for DUI; more than 2 moving violations in any calendar year or more than 4 moving violations in a six-year period, with no more than 4 accumulated points in any calendar year.
  • Company shall ensure that all driver vehicles pass an annual, mutually agreeable safety inspection conducted by a licensed mechanic.
  • Prior to participation in the program, drivers shall go through a driver-education program that provides training in customer service and improves familiarity with local streets and local traffic conditions.
  • Drivers shall not accept passengers except through the ride-sharing mechanism provided by the Company.
  • Company will provide requested data to the City about accidents and incidents with passengers, as well as a report on customer satisfaction and safety ratings.

During the Sept. 2 meeting, an amendment was made that would restrict the felony convictions referenced in the principles to just those that are relevant for drivers for hire.

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

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Splitt Reappointed to DDA Board Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:04:46 +0000 Chronicle Staff John Splitt has been confirmed for a third four-year term of service on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. The vote on the 11-member council was 7-4. Voting against Splitt’s confirmation were Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

The council’s action came at its Sept. 2, 2014 meeting.

Splitt is still within the three-term limit for DDA board members that was included as part of a set of ordinance changes made by the city council at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. Some councilmembers had wanted a two-term limit, but the three-term limit emerged as part of a compromise. In addition to board governance, the council amended the ordinance regulating the DDA’s TIF (tax increment finance) capture.

Some councilmembers voting against Splitt’s confirmation cited recently reported raises awarded to DDA executive director Susan Pollay for FY 2013 and FY 2014 that appear to have been decided in a way that violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

Several others were uncontroversially confirmed to other boards and commissions at the Sept. 2 meeting. Anna Ercoli-Schnitzer had been nominated to fill a vacancy on the commission on disability issues. Tamara Burns and Dick Mitchell had been nominated to be reappointed to the design review board. Sofia Franciscus had been nominated to fill the vacancy on the planning commission due to Paras Parekh’s resignation. All of those nominations were confirmed without discussion.

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

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FDD Lawsuit: Shelton Delays on Sanctions Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:18:24 +0000 Chronicle Staff At an Aug. 27, 2014 hearing, judge Donald Shelton has refused to grant two of three motions by plaintiffs in the footing drain disconnection lawsuit that was filed in February of this year.

On his last motion day before retirement, Shelton chose to deny a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office in its representation of the city. He also declined to rule on the merits of a motion to reassign the case away from judge Timothy Connors – who will be taking over all of Shelton’s civil cases after Shelton’s retirement at the end of this week. On that motion, Shelton pointed out in denying it that he did not have the power to grant it and indicated that such a motion should go through the regular disqualification process.

However, Shelton delayed ruling on a third motion, on sanctions against the city’s attorneys – for making statements in a brief in support of summary disposition that plaintiffs contend did not have a well-founded basis. Shelton questioned assistant city attorney Abigail Elias closely on the matter, and appeared to indicate agreement with plaintiff’s contention that the city had, in its brief filed with the court, mischaracterized the plaintiff’s position.

However, Shelton indicated that the motion on sanctions should be heard when the motion on summary disposition is heard – on Sept. 18. So Shelton indicated he would be adjourning that motion until Sept. 18. That hearing is scheduled before Connors.

For additional background, see “Shelton to Hear Motions in FDD Case.”

This brief was filed from Shelton’s courtroom shortly after the hearing ended. A more detailed report will follow: [link]

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County Issues Call for Winter Warming Space Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:21:10 +0000 Chronicle Staff The Washtenaw County office of community & economic development and the Washtenaw Housing Alliance are seeking suggestions for sites that can be used during the upcoming winter months as warming spaces for the homeless.

In a press release issued on Aug. 22, the OCED described a list of specifications needed for these sites [.pdf of press release]:

  • Include a single room to accommodate approximately 50 adults lying down on thick mats (approximately 1,500 square feet)
  • Be accessible to limited-mobility individuals
  • Have multiple, accessible bathrooms on site
  • Ideally equipped with showers and/or a kitchen prep space
  • Space should be available every night of the week (roughly 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) minimally from January 1 to March 31, 2015 – with potential to begin earlier than January 1 if weather dictates
  • Ideally have storage space for stacked sleeping mats during daytime hours.

Any information about possible sites should be directed to to Amanda Carlisle, director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, at by Friday, Sept. 5.

This outreach is the result of efforts by a Winter Emergency Shelter/Warming Center Response workgroup, which has been focused on ensuring a more coordinated and sufficient response to the demands for the 2014-15 winter. From the press release: “As a result of the initial meetings of this workgroup, a need has been identified for space to host an expanded overnight warming center for individual adults for the 2015 winter season. The committee has identified a provider for the staffing of this additional overnight warming center and is working to identify the resources to support the operation of it; however, the committee has not yet identified an ideal space to host this temporary overnight warming center for the winter months.”

For background on this issue, see Chronicle coverage: “County Board Briefed on Shelter Services” and “County Board Discusses Homelessness.”

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AAATA Search Committee to Replace Ford Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:45:04 +0000 Chronicle Staff The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board has authorized board chair Charles Griffith to appoint an ad hoc subcommittee to conduct a search for a replacement for outgoing CEO Michael Ford.

Ford will depart the AAATA in mid-October to take the post as the first CEO of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Ford formally tendered his resignation on Aug. 21, 2014.

The resolution approved by the board at its Aug. 21 meeting also approves $50,000 for consulting services to help with the search. At the Aug. 21 meeting, Griffith said the committee will consist of himself, Anya Dale, Gillian Ream Gainsley and Eric Mahler. Griffith said he hoped that a search could be completed within three months, but allowed that might not be achievable. He said he hoped an RFP (request for proposals) for a search firm could be sent out the next day. He felt that the search firm could help the board establish realistic expectations about a timeframe for a new hire.

Ford was picked for the job as CEO of the Regional Transit Authority three months ago, on May 21, 2014. The RTA board approved Ford’s contract on Aug. 20, 2014. Ford’s announcement as a finalist and his selection for the RTA job came amid the AAATA’s successful campaign for a new millage to fund additional transportation services in the geographic area of the member jurisdictions of the AAATA – the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. That millage was approved by voters on May 6, 2014.

The four-county area of the RTA includes the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland as well as the city of Detroit. It was established by the Michigan legislature in late 2012.

The RTA’s hiring of a CEO has been frustrated by a lack of state funding. John Hertel, general manager of SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation), was appointed CEO by the RTA board last year, but he eventually left the post in early 2014 over issues of funding availability.

Ford was hired by the AAATA in 2009. He began the Aug. 21 meeting by thanking the board, his executive staff, the AAATA operators and mechanics, and the staff of the entire organization.

This brief was filed from the AAATA headquarters building at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, where the board held its Aug. 21 meeting – due to the closure of its regular meeting location at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. The library building was closed to due to the repair of the public elevator.

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