Stories indexed with the term ‘carbon monoxide’

Ann Arbor Restarts Talk on Vehicle Idling

At a work session held on Jan. 17, 2012, the Ann Arbor city council picked up on a conversation it started back in 2004, when it asked the city’s staff and environmental commission to craft an ordinance regulating the unnecessary idling of vehicles. Last summer, the environmental commission forwarded a draft idling ordinance and a white paper to the council, which was attached to the council’s Aug. 15, 2011 meeting agenda.

exhaust-from-idling-brick anti-idling ordinance

"Please do not leave engines idling. Exhaust damages historic properties." A private property owner has placed this sign in a downtown Ann Arbor alley to discourage delivery drivers from leaving their trucks running. It's advisory only. If an ordinance were enacted by Ann Arbor's city council, the city would post signs alerting drivers to the local law. (Photos by the writer.)

The council got a more detailed briefing on Tuesday, when the city’s environmental coordinator, Matt Naud, and two members of the city’s environmental commission addressed the council. The draft ordinance covers all engines, from heavy-duty trucks to passenger vehicles to generators. It would limit idling to 5 minutes in any given one-hour period. The draft ordinance includes a number of exceptions – for public safety vehicles and for cold weather, for example.

The goal of the ordinance is not to improve overall air quality in Ann Arbor, but rather to improve conditions in very specific localized contexts – school drop-off zones, for example. And the idea is not to create legislation that would then be aggressively enforced. Naud drew an analogy to the city’s ordinance regulating phosphorus-based fertilizers – no citations have ever been issued for ordinance violations, yet the city has achieved a measurable reduction in phosphorus loading in the Huron River since enactment of that ordinance.

Reaction from councilmembers was mixed. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) seemed more interested in exploring the possibility of changing drivers’ behavior through educational outreach than through enacting an ordinance.

Responding to the presentation and summarizing council commentary, mayor John Hieftje ventured that the council was interested in hearing about an educational program. He described that approach as a wiser course than talking about enforcement. Margie Teall (Ward 4), who until recently served as one of two city council representatives to the environmental commission, was more supportive of at least enacting an ordinance, in order to give the educational effort some “backbone.”

Any councilmember could choose to place the ordinance on a future meeting agenda. The council would then need to vote to give it initial approval, and a public hearing would be held, before a final council vote enacting a new ordinance. [Full Story]

Investments: Housing, Bridges, Transit

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (April 19, 2010) Part 2: In Part 1 of this meeting report, we focused on the city’s budget process, parking issues and the University of Michigan commencement exercises.

In Part 2, we wrap up other topics of the meeting. One common theme was capital investments in the community’s physical infrastructure of various kinds.

Michael Nearing city of Ann Arbor engineer

Michael Nearing, city of Ann Arbor engineer, was available for any city council questions on the East Stadium bridge project. (Photo by the writer.)

The council allocated a total of $313,000 for three different permanent affordable housing projects in Ann Arbor.

The city’s East Stadium bridge replacement project received discussion in the form of a resolution that authorized the city to go after state funding for the third time in the last three years. The anticipated construction start for fall of this year has been postponed until spring 2011 – the earlier date had been tied to the city’s application for federal funding, which was rejected this February.

The ongoing construction of the police/courts building, directly adjacent to city hall (the Larcom Building), received some tangential discussion in the form of an explanation from Roger Fraser about the recent closure of city hall due to elevated carbon monoxide levels. The police/courts building was also the subject of public commentary that prompted some extended remarks from the mayor – which were covered in Part 1 of this report.

Another construction project that will likely factor into the upcoming primary election campaigns is Fuller Road Station. The city-university collaboration to build a combined parking deck and bus station, which might eventually serve as a commuter rail station, was taken up during the council’s communications time. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and mayor John Hieftje both responded to some cautionary remarks made by Mike Anglin (Ward 5), which he made based on a recent park advisory commission meeting.

In business related to ethics and rules, the council voted on two occasions to excuse the participation of Taylor in a vote, because of a conflict of interest posed by his employment with the law firm Butzel Long. They also satisfied the requirement of a recent lawsuit settlement that they formally consider a rule about their use of government email accounts – by voting to remand consideration of the issue to council’s rules committee. [Full Story]