Stories indexed with the term ‘bylaws’

Kingsley Condo Project Takes Next Step

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (July 15, 2014): Commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a new condo project near downtown – 121 Kingsley West, at Kingsley and Ashley. But because recommendations of approval require six votes – and only five commissioners were present – the development will be forwarded with a recommendation of denial.

Wendy Woods, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Only five members of the nine-member Ann Arbor planning commission were present on July 15, so Wendy Woods was alone on her side of the table. She was later elected chair of the commission, and moved to a different seat to preside over the meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Developer Tom Fitzsimmons and his partners Peter Allen and Mark Berg were assured that the city council would be informed of the circumstances under which the vote was taken.

The plans call for 22 condos in two new structures and an existing building. The request is for approval of a site plan, development agreement and rezoning – from a planned unit development (PUD) to D2 (downtown interface district). The PUD, which has expired, was for a larger development on that same site that was never built – Peter Allen’s Kingsley Lane.

The tallest building at 121 Kingsley West would be 58.4 feet high – just under the 60-foot height limit for D2 zoning.

In other action on July 15, commissioners elected new officers for the coming fiscal year, which began on July 1. Wendy Woods was unanimously elected to serve as the commission’s chair, replacing Kirk Westphal. She has served as vice chair for the past two years. Ken Clein, who has served as secretary, was elected vice chair, replacing Woods in that position. Westphal reported that Jeremy Peters had expressed interest in serving as secretary, though he did not attend the July 15 meeting. Peters was unanimously elected to that position. None of the officer elections were contested.

Planning commissioners also unanimously adopted a master plan resolution and list of resource documents used to support the master plan. This is part of an annual evaluation of the master plan that’s required by the commission’s bylaws. There are no significant changes. Separately, they voted to approve the FY 2015 work program, which planning manager Wendy Rampson characterized as ambitious. [Full Story]

Planning Bylaws Clarify Council Interactions

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Feb. 20, 2014): Wrapping up a process that began last year, planning commissioners voted to revise their bylaws related to two issues: how city councilmembers interact with the commission; and public hearings.

Eleanore Adenekan, Diane Giannola, Bonnie Bona, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor planning commissioners Eleanore Adenekan, Diane Giannola and Bonnie Bona. (Photos by the writer.)

Commissioners had debated the proposed revisions at a Feb. 4, 2014 working session. Some of the same issues were raised during the Feb. 20 discussion, which was relatively brief.

One revision clarifies the limitations on a city councilmember’s interaction with the commission. The revised section states: “A member of the City Council shall not be heard before the Commission during the Councilmember’s term in office.” The intent is to prevent undue influence on the commission, and to avoid the possibility of legal action against the city.

Other revisions affect speaking turns at public hearings. The intent is to clarify how many turns the same person can speak at a public hearing, and how public hearings are continued if an item is postponed.

In other action, commissioners recommended rezoning a parcel on the city’s north side to public land (PL). The 2.2-acre site at 3301 Traverwood Drive, donated to the city by developer Bill Martin, is being added to the adjacent Stapp Nature Area, near the Leslie Park golf course. It was originally zoned R4D (multi-family dwelling) and had been part of a larger site that’s being developed with an apartment complex.

During communications, Kirk Westphal reported on a project that the environmental commission is working on: a neighborhood mini-grant program. Volunteers would coordinate a competitive grant program for community groups, who could apply to fund projects that address one of the city’s goals in its sustainability framework. That’s in the planning stages, he said.

Westphal also distributed a copy of a resolution recently passed by the city’s energy commission. It supports a recommendation to hire a full-time employee to focus on projects that help achieve goals in the city’s climate action plan. Westphal indicated that the planning commission’s executive committee would be discussing it. The energy commission would like a supporting resolution from the planning commission.

Commissioners also heard from two Skyline High School students, who spoke during public commentary as part of a class assignment. They talked about the importance of the Huron River and of the Huron River Watershed Council‘s River Up project. The planning commission’s work plan includes looking at how to implement recommendations from city’s North Main Huron River corridor task force. [Full Story]

Tax Question Focus of Transit Board Meeting

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meeting (Feb. 20, 2014): The audience for the board’s regular monthly meeting was the largest in at least five years, as 35-40 people attended to show support for the main item on the agenda.

CEO of the AAATA Michael Ford

Michael Ford, CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, just before the start of the Feb. 20, 2014 AAATA board meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

That main item was a board vote to place a millage request before voters on May 6, 2014. The request – on a 0.7 mill tax that would be levied to pay for additional services over the next five years – would need a majority of votes across the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township to be approved.

The millage is supposed to pay for a set of service improvements over a period of five years. Those improvements include increased frequency during peak hours, extended service in the evenings, and additional service on weekends. Some looped routes are being replaced with out-and-back type route configurations. The plan does not include operation of rail-based services.

The AAATA has calculated that the improvements in service add up to 90,000 additional service hours per year, compared to the current service levels, which is a 44% increase.

The board’s vote to put the question on a May 6 ballot was unanimous, and came after more than a dozen people spoke during public commentary at the start of the meeting, urging the board to take the step of making a funding request of voters.

Elected officials as well as leaders of the faith, labor and disability communities all spoke in favor of making the request of voters to fund the service expansion, citing arguments based on economic and social justice. They pointed to the long period of planning that had begun about three years ago with a much more ambitious effort to expand service countywide. The current, more limited approach – focused just on the “urban core” area of the city of Ann Arbor and the two Ypsilanti jurisdictions – was a way to meet urgent transportation needs, they said.

After the board’s vote, during public commentary at the end of the meeting, one Ypsilanti resident recalled her own history marching with Rosa Parks down Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Although she’s been involved in activism for many years, she told the board, she could not think of anything that she was in the room to witness that was this important to her personally and to the city in which she lives.

Compared to typical AAATA board meetings, the atmosphere was relatively boisterous, as supporters at times chanted, “More buses, more places, more often!” But one speaker at the end of the meeting cautioned against the celebratory mood, saying there was now a lot of work to do. A counterpoint to the solid support the board heard from most of the speakers had been offered by the very first speaker of the evening. He asked the board to delay the election until November, arguing that it would save the roughly $80,000-$100,000 cost of holding the May election, and result in broader participation in the vote. Another point raised by that speaker was concern that everyone pay an equitable share for the additional transportation.

Although the main event was the resolution that placed the millage question on the ballot, the board’s agenda featured nine other items, many of which were at least tangentially related to the millage question.

For example, in other action the board approved a change to its budget to allow for up to $100,000 to be spent on the cost of holding the special election. The board also approved a funding agreement with Ypsilanti Township, to make explicit what will happen to the township’s existing purchase of service agreement (POSA) if the millage is approved. And as part of the board’s routine annual business, it approved a funding request to the state of Michigan – but did not factor in an increased level of service in the budget submitted to the state. That was done on the instruction of the Michigan Dept. of Transportation. That request can be amended if the millage succeeds.

Also at the Feb. 20 meeting, the board approved changes to its bylaws. Those changes were prompted by a change in governance to the AAATA last year – the addition of the two Ypsilanti jurisdictions. With the increase from seven to 10 members, the definition for the number of board members constituting a quorum or a majority needed to be modified. Out of that review of the bylaws came a decision to increase public speaking turns from a two-minute time limit to three minutes.

In other business, the board approved the hiring of a consultant to help the AAATA with a planned upgrade to its computer-aided dispatch and vehicle locating software. The board also approved the recently completed audit report for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2013.

Another item approved by the board was a new contract for unarmed security services. And finally, the board authorized a contract for an insurance broker.

Among the various operational updates received by the board was the announcement that the newly constructed Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor would be open by March 17, 2014. [Full Story]

AAATA Bylaws Now Give Public More Time

Speakers during public commentary at Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meetings will now have an extra minute per turn to address the board. The time limits per speaker for each of two slots on the agenda have been increased from two to three minutes. So someone could now address the board for a total of six minutes at a meeting.

That additional change to their bylaws came as AAATA board members reviewed their rules and revised them to reflect the addition of two new member jurisdictions in addition to the city of Ann Arbor: the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. It was last year, under separate processes, that the two Ypsilanti jurisdictions were admitted into the AAATA. The authority … [Full Story]

Planning Commission OKs Change to Bylaws

Revisions to the bylaws of the Ann Arbor planning commission were adopted by commissioners at their Feb. 20, 2014 meeting. The changes relate to two issues: how city councilmembers interact with the commission, and public hearings. [.pdf of staff memo and proposed revisions at start of Feb. 20 meeting]

Commissioners had debated the proposed revisions at a Feb. 4, 2014 working session. Some of the same issues were raised during the Feb. 20 discussion, which was relatively brief.

One revision clarifies the limitations on a city councilmember’s interaction with the commission. The revised section states:
Section 9. A member of the City Council shall not be heard before the Commission during the Councilmember’s term in office.
Other revisions affect speaking turns at … [Full Story]

Planning Commission Bylaws Still Delayed

Approval of a change to the Ann Arbor city planning commission’s bylaws has again been postponed by the city council at its Feb. 3, 2014 meeting.

The changes relate to the order of agenda items, and the length of time required for special accommodations. The change would require additional lead time so that special accommodations, including a sign language interpreter, can be made for people with disabilities, when requested at least two business days in advance of a meeting. The current bylaws specify just a one-day advance request.

The planning commission had given approval to changes in its bylaws about six months ago – at its July 16, 2013 meeting.

The bylaws changes were considered but postponed twice by the city council … [Full Story]

Column: Connecting Dots – DDA, FOIA

Some good news for open government came out of Lansing this last week, on Nov. 12.

Extract from Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority records of attendance at committee meetings.

Extract from Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority records of attendance at committee meetings. Scanned by The Chronicle.

A piece of legislation that would “modernize” Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act moved out of the House Oversight Committee.

Progress on that legislation will be interesting to track as the bill possibly makes its way into state law. [.pdf of HB 4001]

For now, I’d like to focus on just one clause of the proposed legislation. And I’d like to connect that to some otherwise unrelated dots, one of which is an upcoming Ann Arbor city council vote.

That vote – on an appointment to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – will take place either at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 18 or possibly at its following meeting on Dec. 2. [Full Story]

Traverwood OK’d, More Heard on D1 Zoning

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Nov. 6, 2013): In its one matter involving a substantive vote, the commission recommended all necessary approvals for the Traverwood Apartments project – a planned complex of 16 two-story buildings on the west side of Traverwood Drive, north of Plymouth Road. Commissioners recommended approval of the site plan, development agreement, rezoning and wetland use permit.

Kirk Westphal

Planning commission chair Kirk Westphal. (Photos by the writer.)

In a non-voting item, the commission was presented with a possible change to its bylaws – that could clarify whether someone is allowed to speak more than once at the same public hearing. The bylaws themselves prescribe that changes to the bylaws can only be voted on after their presentation at a previous meeting. The city council would need to give final approval to any bylaws changes.

The following evening, on Nov. 7, the city council delayed consideration of an earlier bylaws change that the planning commission had approved (dealing with accessibility issues) – to allow for the possibility that the council could eventually approve both changes in one action.

The bylaws issue involving public hearings had stemmed from an Oct. 15, 2013 debate among commissioners about the ability of a person to address the commission more than one time during the same public hearing. The Oct. 15 public hearing involved the downtown zoning review that the planning commission was directed by the city council to complete by Oct. 1. That public hearing continued at the commission’s Nov. 6, 2013 meeting. It marked the third time in the past month that commissioners have heard public input on a consultant’s report with recommendations to changes in the city’s downtown zoning.

The commission didn’t vote on the zoning review item, however. It will be taken up again at a Nov. 12 work session, with an eye toward eventually making a recommendation to the city council.

The majority sentiment among the nearly dozen people who spoke to the commission about the zoning review on Nov. 6 was that the consultant’s recommendations did not adequately address the need for buffering between areas zoned D1 and those zoned residential. However, the owner of the building on property at the southeast corner of William and Main – where DTE offices are located – did not share that sentiment. He offered his perspective that the parcel should not have zoning applied that splits the parcel between D1 and D2 zoning, which is the consultant’s recommendation.

Planning commissioners did not engage in substantive discussion on the downtown zoning review. Instead they focused on what procedure to use in delaying consideration of a resolution that would make a recommendation to the city council. The inclination to delay stemmed from a request by two commissioners who were absent due to illness – Sabra Briere and Wendy Woods.

The outcome of the scheduling discussion was to postpone consideration until the commission’s next working session on Nov. 12 – which will start at 7 p.m. in a basement conference room at city hall. The public will be heard at the end of the commission’s working session discussion. Commissioners at the Nov. 6 meeting indicated that they’ll likely need more than just one additional discussion to come to a consensus on what the recommendation to the city council should be. They won’t be voting on anything at the Nov. 12 working session.

This report also includes material on the downtown zoning review from the meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board earlier in the day on Nov. 6.  [Full Story]

Bylaws OK’d, Delayed for Planning Groups

In action taken by the Ann Arbor city council at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting, new bylaws for the city’s design review board and for the city planning commission were considered, but only the bylaws for the design review board were approved. Approval of changes to the city planning commission’s bylaws was postponed until Dec. 16.

The design review board has not had bylaws up to now. The purpose of the board is to “foster excellence in the design of Ann Arbor’s built environment and to advise petitioners on how a project can meet the spirit and intent of the Downtown Design Guidelines.” [.pdf of design review board bylaws]

The planning commission had given approval to changes in its bylaws at … [Full Story]

Changes Floated for Planning Group’s Bylaws

In response to a debate at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s Oct. 15, 2013 meeting, commissioners are weighing a revision to their bylaws that clarifies the rules for speaking turns at public hearings. The revisions were brought up for review at the commission’s Nov. 6, 2013 meeting, but no vote was taken.

The idea would be to clarify the definition of a public hearing so that when a matter is postponed, its public hearing is continued – as opposed to starting a fresh public hearing. Applying a time limit of three minutes for each speaker would effectively rule out a situation where a person could speak multiple times in a public hearing on the same matter. But the bylaw revision … [Full Story]

Hampton Inn Progresses, U-Haul Project Slows

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (July 2, 2013): In their first meeting of fiscal year 2014, planning commissioners recommended approval of a new Hampton Inn on Jackson Avenue, but postponed a proposed expansion of the U-Haul business on South State Street.

Jeremy Peters, Paras Parekh, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Jeremy Peters and Paras Parekh cast their first votes as Ann Arbor planning commissioners on July 2, 2013.

The proposal for a Hampton Inn at 2910 Jackson Ave., across the street from Weber’s Inn and next to Clarion Inn, had been postponed at the commission’s June 18, 2013 meeting. The owner was asked to address concerns over pedestrian access within the site.

A June 28 letter from Andy Wakeland, the project’s civil engineer, outlined several changes that the design team made in response to commissioners’ concerns. [.pdf of Wakeland’s letter] The changes include building a wood chip path with a picnic table area along the front wooded area of the site, connecting to two previously proposed entrances from Jackson Avenue. The plan now also includes an alternate pedestrian route at the west entrance, crossing the front parking lot in a more direct route to the hotel’s front door. Several commissioners praised the changes and thanked the development team for being responsive.

In other action, commissioners followed the planning staff’s recommendation and voted to postpone a proposed $1.2 million expansion to the U-Haul business at 3655 S. State St., south of the I-94 interchange. Commissioners spent about an hour raising concerns and asking questions, many related to landscaping, site visibility, and how the site will look from South State Street after the changes are made.

This was also the commission’s annual organizational meeting, when officers are elected and bylaws are reviewed. Kirk Westphal and Wendy Woods were re-elected chair and vice chair, respectively, and Ken Clein was elected secretary, replacing Bonnie Bona. Planning manager Wendy Rampson introduced staff recommendations for changes to the bylaws, including an item regarding the provision of special accommodations for the public, such as a sign language interpreter. The proposed amendment would change the advance notice required for special accommodations from 24 hours to 48 hours. This change is consistent with recent changes adopted by the city clerk’s office, according to Rampson.

July 2 was the first meeting for two new planning commissioners: Jeremy Peters and Paras Parekh. They were appointed last month by the Ann Arbor city council for terms ending June 30, 2016. The former commissioners whose seats they filled – Tony Derezinski and Eric Mahler – were on hand to receive recommendations of appreciation. Derezinski said he was reminded of an old saying from law school: Whoever loves good laws and good sausage should observe neither in the making. “Well, we made a lot of great sausage here,” he said. [Full Story]

Regents Take Action on Security Investigation

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Feb. 16, 2012): In the wake of a mishandled incident involving child pornography allegedly viewed on a UM health system computer, regents voted last week to start an external investigation into the matter.

Student groups at UM regents meeting

Members of student groups at the Feb. 16 UM regents meeting stood in support of a speaker during public commentary who was advocating for tuition equality for students who are undocumented immigrants. (Photos by the writer.)

Martin Taylor, who introduced the resolution at the start of the meeting, described the situation as “one that is unacceptable to the regents and that we, the regents, feel we must do everything within our power to ensure that it is not repeated.” There had been a six-month lag between the time the incident was initially reported in May of 2011, and action taken by university officials to investigate. A former medical resident, Stephen Jenson, was arrested in mid-December. [.pdf of Taylor's statement]

The university administration had issued its own report on an internal audit earlier this month, with recommendations to improve security and communications. [.pdf of UM report] But regents felt more needed to be done, and have asked UM president Mary Sue Coleman to work with board chair Denise Ilitch to make recommendations for outside consultants who could be hired to carry out an additional investigation.

During public commentary at the meeting, Coleman was sharply criticized for her handling of the situation. One speaker accused her of a repeated pattern of attacking whistleblowers. The remarks prompted some regents to come to Coleman’s defense, calling the accusations unfair.

The ongoing debate about whether to allow graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) to unionize also emerged during the Feb. 16 meeting, when three students spoke about the topic during public commentary. The same issue was the focus of an unusual special meeting that regents held the following week, on Feb. 21. At that meeting – which included heated debate among regents over whether the meeting had been called in conformity with the state’s Open Meetings Act – the board voted 6-2 to oppose Michigan senate bill 197. The bill would prohibit GSRAs from collective bargaining. It was subsequently passed by the Republican-controlled state senate on a 26-12 party-line vote.

Regents acted on a range of other issues during their Feb. 16 meeting. There was no mention of the Feb. 8 special meeting that had been called to approve the use of Michigan Stadium for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013. However, one item on the Feb. 16 agenda did relate to UM athletics: a vote to rename the basketball player development center at Crisler in honor of William Davidson, who died in 2009. His family, via the William Davidson Foundation, recently donated $7.5 million to the University of Michigan athletics department.

Another renaming was also approved – for the Computer Science and Engineering Building, in honor of Bob and Betty Beyster. Bob Beyster, who received multiple degrees from UM and founded Science Applications International Corp., recently gave a $15 million gift to the College of Engineering.

In other business, regents voted to revise the board’s bylaws, including a change that eliminated a previous requirement that executives retire after their 70th birthday. Coleman will be 70 when her current contract expires in 2014, but regent Martin Taylor said the change wasn’t being made to accommodate her – it’s to comply with the law, he said. Regents also authorized the appointment of six Thurnau professorships, and took votes that moved forward several previously approved projects, including major renovations at East Quad and the residences in the Lawyers’ Club.

Two presentations were given during the meeting – by Martin Philbert, dean of the School of Public Health, and Doug Engel, chair and professor of cell and developmental biology. Engel’s presentation highlighted recent news that the U.S. National Institutes of Health has authorized an embryonic stem cell line developed by UM researchers to be eligible for federally funded research.

The meeting concluded with public commentary on a variety of issues, including (1) better access to a childcare subsidy available to parents who are UM students; (2) equity for students who are charged out-of-state tuition because they are undocumented immigrants; and (3) criticism of the university’s relationship with China. [Full Story]

UM Bylaws Eliminate Retirement Cap

A change to University of Michigan regents’ bylaws – approved at the board of regents at their Feb. 16, 2012 meeting – removed a provision requiring the president and executive officers to end their service no later than the end of the fiscal year in which their 70th birthday occurs. UM legal staff determined that the provision violated protections against age discrimination contained in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

UM president Mary Sue Coleman will turn 69 in October of 2012. In November 2010, regents voted to extend her contract through July 31, 2014. If the retirement cap had remained in place, she would not have been eligible for additional contract extensions.

That change to the bylaws was one of seven … [Full Story]

AATA Board Revises Bylaws

At its Oct. 20, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board voted to revise its bylaws so that its meeting time is set each year at the same time that it approves the budget.

Before revision, the bylaws stipulated 6:30 p.m. as the meeting time. That mention was struck from the bylaws in favor of the language: “The Board shall set the time of Board meetings at such time as the budget is passed for the fiscal year.” The bylaws still specify the third Thursday of the month as the regular meeting time.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow. [Full Story]

UM Regents Hear from Grad Student Union

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Feb. 17, 2011): About midway through Thursday’s meeting, dozens of graduate students quietly streamed into the boardroom, many of them carrying signs of protest and wearing brightly-colored T-shirts emblazoned with the Graduate Employees’ Organization logo.

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and instructors at Feb. 17, 2011 regents meeting

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) crowded the boardroom at Feb. 17, 2011 board of regents meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

They came to support four speakers during public commentary, who were advocating for better benefits and working conditions for graduate student employees. Also speaking during public commentary were five professors from the medical school, urging regents to support a flexible “tenure clock” that would give faculty more time to achieve that professional milestone.

The meeting’s main presentation focused on international aspects of the university – students from other countries who study at UM, and American students who study abroad. Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs, told regents that three-quarters of the UM students who study abroad are female – they’re trying to find out why male students aren’t as interested.

The presentation led to several questions from regents, who wanted clarification about why UM doesn’t offer an international program in Israel. They also cited the importance of finding incentives to keep international students in Michigan after graduation.

Regents also voted on several items, mostly without discussion, including: approving the next step in a major renovation of Alice Lloyd Hall; giving departmental status to the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies; and officially naming the new Law School commons in honor of Bob Aikens, a UM alumnus who donated $10 million to the project.

Another UM alum, Gov. Rick Snyder, had released his proposed state budget earlier in the day. Prior to the meeting, several university executives huddled with Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, to get updated on the implications for their own budget – funding for higher education is among the many cuts Snyder has proposed. President Mary Sue Coleman also addressed that issue in her opening remarks. [Full Story]

DDA Board Retreat to Focus on City Talks

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Sept. 1, 2010): On its surface, the first regular meeting of the DDA board after its July election of new officers seemed to be a relatively uneventful gathering. Two topics that could have prompted extended deliberations were handled in short order.


Washington & Fifth Avenue, looking northwest. The concrete mixer is parked directly in front of the DDA offices. The entry for the board's Sept. 1 meeting was through the alley and the garage, which makes up part of the ground floor of the Fifth Avenue Building. (Photos by the writer.)

The first issue, handled with relatively little comment, was the report out from the DDA’s “mutually beneficial” committee, given by Roger Hewitt. The committee has been meeting over the course of the summer with a corresponding committee from the Ann Arbor city council to renegotiate the parking agreement under which the DDA manages the city’s parking system.

While board members Newcombe Clark and Russ Collins commented in a general way on the status of the conversations, it did not lead to any specific directive to the DDA’s committee for its next meeting, which will take place on Sept. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

However, at the suggestion of DDA executive director Susan Pollay, the board will schedule a retreat between now and its monthly board meeting in October – but likely after Sept. 13 – to focus on the “mutually beneficial” issue. In the meantime, the DDA’s committee will request of its city council counterparts that they provide their own assessment of the status of the negotiations. The Sept. 13 meeting of the two committees will also be the occasion when Pollay provides a detailed version of the outline, which she’d provided at the last committee meeting on Aug. 23, for a possible role for the DDA in the development of city-owned surface lots.

The second issue dispatched by the board with little overt controversy was a resolution that Newcombe Clark had brought through the operations committee last Wednesday to allocate $50,000 for support of skatepark facilities. Clark himself suggested that the resolution be tabled, alluding to the “prism through which everything is looked at this time of year.” DDA board members went along with that suggestion.

The prism to which Clark alluded is a political one. Clark is running an independent campaign for the Ward 5 city council seat currently held by Democrat Carsten Hohnke. Hohnke has positioned himself as a champion of the skating community’s efforts to construct a skateboarding facility at Veterans Memorial Park, which is in Ward 5.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the newest member of the board, former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel, and the member he replaced, Jennifer S. Hall, were acknowledged by chair Joan Lowenstein – but neither was present. The board passed a resolution of appreciation for Hall’s service, and Lowenstein welcomed Guenzel “in absentia.”

Other business at Wednesday’s meeting included the usual updates from the board’s committees. Notable from the transportation committee was an effort to collaborate with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to enhance bus service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. And from the partnerships committee came a summary of a presentation they’d received from the chief of police – there’s a difference between being statistically safe and the perception of safety. [Full Story]

Planning Commission Bylaws Tweaked

Ann Arbor Planning Commission meeting (Aug. 17, 2010): A light agenda – including two items that were recommended for postponement – prompted planning commissioner Jean Carlberg to quip, “I told you we should have canceled this meeting!”

Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald, senior assistant city attorney, discusses revisions to the planning commission's bylaws at the group's Aug. 17 meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

The bulk of the hour-long meeting was spent reviewing and approving revisions to the commission’s bylaws, a task that’s been going on for several months. Questions that arose during the commission’s July 20 meeting prompted the group to ask for clarification from the city attorney’s office. Kevin McDonald, senior assistant city attorney, attended the Aug. 17 meeting and addressed those unresolved issues.

In other business, planning staff recommended postponement of two proposed rezonings at Arbor Hills Nature Area and Kilburn Park. The areas are currently zoned as part of a planned unit development (PUD) and were proposed to be rezoned as public land for park use. Wendy Rampson, the city’s planning manager, said the items had been inadvertently added to the agenda, but needed additional work.

Rampson also reported that the commission would be hosting a public event featuring Pat Murphy, a nationally recognized speaker in the field of planning, climate change and sustainability, and author of the book “Plan C – Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change.” Murphy will be speaking on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at the Malletts Creek branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, 3090 E. Eisenhower Parkway, from 7-8:30 p.m. The presentation will be taped and available for viewing at a later date on Community Television Network (CTN). [Full Story]

Library Board Adopts 2010-11 Budget

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (May 17, 2010): At its May meeting, the AADL board adopted a budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year – keeping the millage rate at 1.55 mills. Though the tentative budget discussed at the board’s April meeting had projected a $200,000 shortfall, the library staff is now anticipating less of a drop in tax revenues for the coming fiscal year. That increased optimism on the revenue front means that the approved budget does not require tapping the library’s fund balance.

Board members also discussed awarding a contract for HVAC work, and heard from the representative of a company that’s not being recommended for the contract. The board revised the library district’s boundaries in the Northfield Township area, and approved new legal compliance and conflict of interest policies. [Full Story]

DDA Amends Bylaws, OKs Management Fee

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Feb. 3, 2010): The DDA board passed two resolutions at its Wednesday meeting. The first authorized a $45,000 discretionary part of the management fee in Republic Parking’s contract.

The Big Drill

The view from Division Street to the Library Lot work site, where the Christman Company is managing the construction of the underground parking garage. The drilling is part of the earth retention work. (Photos by the writer.)

The second resolution amended the DDA bylaws. The change eliminates the ability of the executive committee to act on behalf of the board between regular board meetings, and clarifies the role of the executive director in relationship with the board. Efforts to change the bylaws have accumulated over two years worth of history, and still need the approval of the Ann Arbor city council to take effect.

Another main theme of Wednesday’s meeting was finances – from parking revenues to tax increment finance (TIF) capture, to the housing fund.

And in a nod to the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day,” we note that The Chronicle’s report of the DDA board’s February meeting from last year also featured a big drill as lead art. Both drills are related to the construction of the underground parking garage along Fifth Avenue. The board received updates on that and other construction projects, as well as on planning and development downtown. [Full Story]