Stories indexed with the term ‘climate action plan’

Ann Arbor Council Acts on Energy Issues

Two energy policy items on the Ann Arbor city council’s March 17, 2014 agenda received action at the council’s meeting.

First, the council directed the city’s energy office to draft a commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. It’s an effort to help achieve goals in the city’s climate action plan. That succeeded on a 7-3 vote. Dissenting were Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Sally Petersen (Ward 2) was absent.

Second, the council directed the city administrator to “report back to council by May 5, 2014 with a plan to make significant progress on creating and implementing additional community energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy programs that further the Climate Action Plan’s adopted targets, reduce … [Full Story]

Concordia Takes Step in Campus Upgrade

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 4, 2014): A gym addition at Concordia University in Ann Arbor is moving forward, following action by planning commissioners to recommend approval of the project’s site plan.

Curt Gielow, Concordia University Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Curt Gielow (right), campus chief executive for Concordia University Ann Arbor, talks with Ann Arbor planning commission chair Kirk Westphal before the commission’s March 4, 2014 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The project signals a larger effort to double the size of the current institution’s enrollment of 740 students and return Concordia – which was near bankruptcy in recent years – to financial stability.

Curt Gielow, Concordia University Ann Arbor’s CEO, told commissioners that because of its distressed financial state, the Ann Arbor campus was absorbed by Concordia University Wisconsin last year. Plans are in place to invest between $10 million to $20 million in the coming years on a variety of improvements, he said.

Gielow estimated Concordia’s economic impact on Ann Arbor is in excess of $10 million annually. “I don’t think anybody wants this university to close.”

The 187-acre campus is located at 4090 Geddes Road, just west of US-23 and north of the Huron River. The Ann Arbor campus is one of the smallest of the 10 Concordias nationwide, which all are owned by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The LCMS Michigan district offices are located near the Ann Arbor campus, at 3773 Geddes.

The site plan will now be forwarded to the city council for consideration. Planning commissioners also granted a special exception use for the project, because the private university is located on a site zoned R1B (single-family residential district). No additional city council approval is required for that.

In other action, commissioners voted to support a resolution passed by the city’s energy commission and environmental commission, recommending that the city fill a vacant full-time position to focus on implementing Ann Arbor’s climate action plan.

During the March 4 meeting, energy commission chair Wayne Appleyard explained the rationale behind the recommendation, noting that one of two positions in the energy office has been vacant for about two years. While the office has been short-staffed, he said, climate change continues. “Greenhouse gases are cumulative, so the faster we can move to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the better off everybody’s going to be.”

Near the end of the meeting, planning commissioner Diane Giannola announced that she and Bonnie Bona would be bringing a resolution forward on March 18 related to the Library Lane site. At recent city council meetings, she noted, there has been discussion about potentially selling the air rights for the Library Lane underground parking structure to a developer. So the resolution would describe the kinds of uses that the planning commission would like to see on top of that site, she said. Giannola likened it to a similar resolution that the planning commission passed prior to the sale of the former Y lot. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council Handles Green Agenda

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Dec. 17, 2012): The agenda for the council’s final regular meeting of the year was relatively light, but was weighted toward “green” issues – including parks and more general environmental items.

Chart showing projected greenhouse gas emissions if the city of Ann Arbor does nothing, compared to enacting the steps outlined in the climate action plan, which was adopted by the city council at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting.

Chart showing projected greenhouse gas emissions if the city of Ann Arbor does nothing, compared to enacting steps outlined in the climate action plan, which was adopted by the city council at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting.

The council approved two grant applications for future development of at least part of the city-owned property at 721 N. Main St. as a park. It’s seen as an element of a future Allen Creek greenway that would arc northward along the railroad tracks, starting from the East Stadium bridges to the Huron River. The applications were for unspecified amounts from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) and the Washtenaw County parks & recreation Connecting Communities program. Last year the city received two $300,000 grants from the MNRTF – for the future skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park, and for renovations to the boating facilities at Gallup Park.

The current grant applications came in the general context of an initial recommendation made by a council-appointed task force that has been meeting since the summer. That task force has a much broader geographic charge, which includes the North Main corridor, extending eastward to the Huron River and over to the MichCon property. The task force is due to make recommendations to the council on that broader area by the summer of 2013. However, the group was asked to weigh-in specifically on the 721 N. Main property by the end of this year – because of the grant application deadlines.

The North Main task force had been appointed at the same May 7, 2012 meeting when the council had heard from representatives of 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios on the physical survey work necessary for another city-owned property – at 415 W. Washington. At least part of that property is also envisioned as part of a future Allen Creek greenway. After appropriating $50,000 for physical testing at its July 16, 2012 meeting, the council on Dec. 17 allocated another $32,583 after bids came back.

In addition to green space, the council’s Dec. 17 agenda included two “green” resolutions – one that adopted a climate action plan and the other calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Air Act. Ann Arbor’s climate action plan calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 8% by 2015, 25% by 2025, and 90% by 2050. The reductions are compared to baseline levels measured in the year 2000. The action steps identified in the climate action plan are divided into four main categories: energy and buildings; land use and access; resource management; community and health. Those categories align with the city’s sustainability framework. The plan is also coordinated with a similar effort by the University of Michigan.

Other business handled by the council included another request to the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner’s office in connection with stormwater infrastructure for a street reconstruction project. The petition requested an application for $1.4 million in low-interest loans for a three-year project in the Platt-Packard neighborhood. Also connected to bricks-and-mortar infrastructure was an additional allocation of about $148,000 for the 2012 sidewalk repair and ramp installation program – the first year of a five-year cycle, corresponding to a millage approved by voters in 2011. The total mount of the 2012 sidewalk program was about $965,000.

The council also gave its recommendation to grant a micro brewer license to Biercamp Artisan Sausage & Jerky, a retail shop located at 1643 S. State St.

Initial approval was given by the council for a revision to the city’s ordinance regulating parking on front lawns. The change will make it easier to make arrangements for events other than University of Michigan football games.

And the council approved a $90,000 project budget that will allow for documents to be submitted digitally to the planning and development department. The project includes a public kiosk for reviewing plans.

The council also heard its typical range of public commentary, with topics including pedestrian safety, towing, and Palestinian rights. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council Acts on Climate Plan

A climate action plan was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Ann Arbor city council at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting.

Also at the meeting, the council passed a separate resolution that urges the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Air Act. A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case gave the EPA the authority to regulate emission of green house gases (GHGs) as pollutants – such as water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone (O3).

Ann Arbor’s climate action plan calls for a reduction in GHG emissions of 8% by 2015, 25% by 2025, and 90% by 2050. Baseline for the reductions are 2000 levels. The action steps identified in … [Full Story]

Climate Action Plan Moves to City Council

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Nov. 20, 2012): An ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025 – with the goal of a 90% reduction by 2050 – was recommended for approval by the city’s planning commission at its most recent meeting.

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

Former Ann Arbor planning commissioner Evan Pratt hugs Wendy Woods, the commission’s vice chair, after receiving recognition for his service at the group’s Nov. 20 meeting. On Nov. 6, Pratt was elected Washtenaw County water resources commissioner, and resigned from the city’s planning commission because of obligations for his new job. (Photos by the writer.)

The climate action plan includes about 80 recommended actions to help achieve those goals, ranging from possible changes in city code to actions that individuals or organizations can take voluntarily, like weatherizing buildings. [.pdf list of recommendations]

In his presentation of the plan, Nate Geisler of the city’s energy office told commissioners that the plan doesn’t tie the city to making firm commitments about these actions, but “it sets us on the path to doing this.” He indicated an urgency in taking action, highlighting the negative impact of global warming and the risks associated with doing nothing. The plan – which is coordinated with the city’s sustainability framework and with a similar effort by the University of Michigan – has already been recommended by the city’s energy and environmental commissions, and will be forwarded to the city council for its consideration.

Bonnie Bona, a planning commissioner who served on the task force that developed this plan, praised Geisler and Wayne Appleyard, chair of the city’s energy commission, for their role in leading the initiative. She offered the planning commission’s help in implementing the recommended actions. More information about the overall effort is online at

Also on the Nov. 20 agenda was a site plan and zoning request for a residential project at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road – called the Summit Townhomes. A similar version of the project had been previously postponed by commissioners in June of 2012. The current plan calls for building 24 attached residential units in four separate buildings, with each building between 80 to 160 feet in length. Each of the 24 units would have a floor area of about 1,300 square feet, and an attached one-car garage. The plan includes two surface parking areas on the east and west sides of the site, each with 12 spaces.

On Nov. 20, the commission recommended approval of zoning the property R3 (townhouse dwelling district). That zoning proposal will be forwarded to the city council. But because of outstanding issues – including questions related to regrading the site’s steep slope – commissioners followed planning staff’s advice and voted to postpone a recommendation on the site plan.

In other action, the commission granted a special exception use that will allow the Memorial Christian Church to use a building at 1900 Manchester Road, off of Washtenaw Avenue. The building has been owned by and used as the Ann Arbor regional headquarters for the Girl Scouts Council. And six parcels in the northeast Ann Arbor Hills neighborhood – on Geddes, Seneca and Onondaga – were recommended for rezoning from R1B to R1C. Both are types of single-family dwelling districts. The rezoning would allow some of the larger lots to be divided.

During the Nov. 20 meeting, commissioner Eric Mahler gave a brief update from the commission’s ordinance revisions committee (ORC), which is reviewing recommendations on changes to the city’s R4C/R2A zoning district, including a report from a study advisory committee. He said ORC is still working on the project and hopes to have a report ready for city council in the spring of 2013. [For an overview of the R4C/R2A initiative, see Chronicle coverage: "Planning Group Weighs R4C/R2A Report."]

The meeting included a formal commendation for former planning commissioner Evan Pratt, who recently stepped down from the group after winning election on Nov. 6 as Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. Pratt had served on the planning commission since 2004, and had been its most senior current member. [Full Story]

Planning Group Supports Climate Action Plan

A draft climate action plan for the city of Ann Arbor, two years in the making, was endorsed by Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Nov. 20, 2012  meeting. [.pdf of executive summary] The plan’s goals include a 25% reduction in community greenhouse emissions (over the year 2000 baseline levels) by 2025. This is the same goal set by the University of Michigan. In the shorter term, the goal is a reduction of 8% in emissions by 2015. Long-term, a 90% reduction is sought by 2050.

The plan provides a range of strategies for achieving these goals, divided into four categories: (1) energy and buildings, (2) land use and access, (3) resource management, and (4) community and health. … [Full Story]